People all over the world battle with their weight, and everyone is always looking for a new way to get rid of a little extra fat or shed a few pounds. Crash dieting is a new fad that gains more popularity year after year. People look at these diets as a quick way to lose weight, whether it be before a special event, a holiday, as a New Year’s resolution, or for another purpose.
Although these diets can help you lose a bit of weight in a short period of time, they can actually end up doing more harm than good to your body in the long run. Crash diets force your body into starvation mode, and the way your body responds can actually result in increased weight gain after the fact and cause bone and muscle damage, degenerative disc disease, chronic pain, and other health issues.
What is Crash Dieting?
This type of dieting involves consuming minimal amounts of calories in order to cause rapid weight loss. The principle behind this diet is built upon the fact that in order to lose weight, the body must burn more calories each day than it takes in. These types of programs can include fresh juice diets, the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, and many others.
Oftentimes, these diets only allow a person to consume around 1,000 calories or less each day. This is well below the advised minimum daily value of around 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men.
In order to lose a pound of bodyweight, you are required to burn 3,500 calories. This means that burning an extra 500 calories each day will result in one pound of weight loss each week. Crash diets go well beyond this, sometimes causing weight loss of up to a few pounds a week. While this seems good when you look down at the scale every week, your diet can actually be damaging your body more than you think.
How Can Crash Diets Harm the Body?
While the initial weight loss may make it seem like the diet is working well, the potential negative effects of it may not manifest themselves for quite some time. In actuality, there is no such thing as an overnight weight loss solution, and in most cases, the weight loss programs that provide large amounts of weight loss over a short period of time actually cause people to gain back the weight they lost, and in some cases a little bit extra as well.
Crash diets can cause a number of different health problems relating to physical health. Some of the major health effects relate to muscle and skeletal strength and can result in chronic pain. Most people think that when the body needs to dig into its own energy reserves to make up for the lack of calories they consume, the majority of calories burned are directly from fat.
While this is true to an extent, when the body determines that it is on a calorie restriction for an extended period of time, which is recognized as starvation, it begins to lower its metabolic rate. This means that it begins to burn fewer calories each day so that it can preserve what energy stores it does have.
The body uses energy to upkeep every tissue each day, and maintaining muscle costs more energy than preserving fat. Because of this, the body begins to break down muscle tissue to generate energy instead, leaving your fat stores more intact. Then, after muscle stores have been used, vital organs begin to be digested to ensure the brain has enough energy to survive.
The Effect on Muscle, Bone, and Spine Health
When the body begins to break down muscle tissue to generate energy, your muscles begin to waste away and lose both strength and functionality. Muscles are not only responsible for moving the body, but they are also responsible for holding the skeleton in the correct posture as well. If the muscles become too weak, it can increase pressure on the spine and joints throughout the body, resulting in damage.
Intervertebral discs are located between each of the vertebrae in the spine. Over time these discs can wear down, leading to degenerative disc disease. This disease occurs when the discs dry out, crack, or leak, and it can cause pain and discomfort. These discs can degenerate even faster than normal if they have to absorb increased pressure due to muscle weakness caused by dieting.
Crash diets can also have a negative impact on your bones. If your diet does not have all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs, it can lower your bone density, reducing your skeletal strength. Having weak bones can also cause spinal misalignments or other issues that can cause muscle compensations.
Losing weight is a great goal for many people, and it is associated with a number of health benefits, including lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, crash dieting is not the best way to do so, and it can actually cause many health problems. Instead, making lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly and selecting healthier foods for meals, is a healthier way to approach weight loss.