Why is crash dieting a bad idea?

Qualified nutritionists are in agreement that crash dieting is a terrible idea.


20 Jun 2021


With the coming of summer, many people are looking for a quick fix for their recent post-pandemic weight gain and a crash diet presents a tempting proposition. It promises that you will lose weight in a short period of time by implementing some drastic changes in your diet for a few weeks or even a few days!

However, qualified nutritionists are in agreement that crash dieting is a terrible idea, and here are some of the top reasons why should you should definitely stay away from it.


Crash diets will cause you to lose lean body mass.

When someone makes a lifelong commitment to healthy eating and to losing weight they are less likely to lose what is called lean body mass (bone and muscle tissue). Although some lean body mass is lost by following any type of diet you are at a significantly higher risk of causing this type of damage to your organism if you follow a crash diet. In fact, depending on how strict your crash diet is, you can lose up to 25% of your lean body mass which is disastrous! The reason it is bad is that when you damage your bone tissue through crash diet you become frailer later on in life when you age, and when you lose muscle tissue you become less strong and your metabolism rate decreases (and metabolism is essential for burning up the calories in the long run).


Crush dieting provides extremely poor nutritional value.

We have to get a minimal amount of essential nutrients (such as healthy fats, vitamins, protein, and minerals) per day to maintain our general health and when you are on a crash diet your body does not get all of these vital nutrients. In addition some crash diets demand that you cut out certain types of foods altogether (such as fatty foods, dairy, foods that contain carbohydrates, and so on) which is also detrimental to your health because we need a healthy balance of nutrients daily. The damage you cause to your health varies depending on how long your crash diet lasts; in some severe cases these nutrient deficiencies can cause long-term health issues.


The rebound effect.

If you have ever lost weight before you probably already know that the hardest part is to keep it off. And while crush dieting may give you favorable results in the initial few days 40% of people who lose weight in this manner gain it back. This happens because of our body's natural protective mechanism; when you reduce the intake of calories dramatically your brain thinks that you are starving so as a way of preserving energy and protecting you it slows your metabolism down (which of course makes it harder to continue losing weight). You are very likely to regain all those pounds you have lost as soon as you come off the crash diet.


The psychological impact of crush dieting.

When you are on a crash diet you become weak and irritable. You are also much less likely to resist junk food cravings and if you succumb to them once you might become demotivated and give up on your weight loss journey. Frequent crash dieting has been linked to such mental health issues as depression and they might also cause eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia.

Nowadays most of us are under a lot of stress either at work or at home and we need to maintain a healthy nutritious diet to cope with this pressure and if you follow a crash diet you will do damage not only to your body but to your mental health as well.

In addition, a study conducted in 1998 found that severe calorie restriction also causes impairments in working memory and reduced performance in some other areas of our cognitive function.


Other dangerous side effects of crash dieting.

Since crash diets do not provide you with all the necessary nutrients your immune system becomes weaker which means that you are more likely to become susceptible to viruses and the common cold (which is the last thing we need right now).

In addition, your body becomes dehydrated which affects not only your internal organs but also the appearance of your skin. Dehydration also leads to irregular bowel movements and constipation, frequent headaches, and possibly even hair thinning.


So as you can see although crash dieting might seem tempting at first glance, but it is not worth it in the end. You cannot do it in the long run, and the amount of weight you will lose in a short period of time is not worth all the damage you will do to your physical and mental well-being. Clean eating is a lifelong commitment and you are much better to go with healthier alternatives such as healthy ready meals.