Trying one of those extreme diets you see advertised online can be very tempting when you want to lose weight quickly. If you’re unhappy with extra weight you’ve gained over time, sometimes you want to do anything and everything you can to lose it quickly. We understand; and most of us have been there before. And we know that body positivity isn’t always easy to achieve, because body image issues take time to heal. The thing is, extreme diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and you really should not try an extreme diet.
Some of these extreme diets out there can be pretty dangerous, and rapid weight loss can have a negative effect on your health as well as your metabolism. Check out this article on the drawbacks of losing weight quickly. Slow and steady really does win the race, even with dieting, and while it can feel a little demoralizing that it takes time, your body will thank you for it.
Let us take you through what extreme dieting is, and we’ll discuss the risks associated with it so that you can make an informed decision about your nutrition.
What are Extreme Diets?
Extreme diets are also commonly referred to as crash diets, and they involve severe food restriction and calorie intake restrictions so that you lose weight very quickly. Generally speaking, it involves removing most (or all) of the major food groups from your diet.
Some of the most well-known extreme diets are:
- Juice diet
- Egg diet
- Cabbage Soup diet
- Maple Syrup diet
The reason these extreme diets are so popular is because it’s so much easier to get caught up in the fast results from these diets than to take the time to think about the long-term implications of extreme dieting on our health.
It’s not a sustainable form of dieting, and most people can’t lose a lot of weight without gaining it back very quickly.
Furthermore, medical professionals have found that there is an increased risk of developing long-term eating disorders when you try following extreme diets, because of the unrealistic results caused by this type of dieting.
What Happens to Your Body During an Extreme Diet?
When you dramatically restrict the number of calories your body is getting, it goes into survival mode because it believes that there is not enough food and so it will need to conserve energy.
As a result, during an extreme diet, your body will burn through less fat because this is what the body feeds on when it is no longer getting the regular nutrition it needs and thinks you’re starving yourself.
This is why crash diets tend to lead to the loss of lean body mass, such as muscle and fat. The loss of this mass is what can cause fragility in later life, and the loss of muscle is harmful to both the metabolism and your overall strength.
So, while the initial weight loss from your crash diet seems exceptional, the truth is that you aren’t shedding any fat - you’re losing your muscle instead.
Furthermore, extreme diets can result in low blood sugar levels, which leaves us feeling lethargic, and much hungrier than normal.
Low blood sugar tends to cause brain fog, dizziness, lightheadedness, and it can easily trigger a dangerous cycle of binging and starving - reinforcing the potential to form eating disorders as a result of strict dieting.
What are Other Risks of an Extreme Diet?
There are further risks associated with taking part in an extreme diet, and some of the side effects include:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Hair Loss
However, in addition to strong research for the above, there have also been studies and observations by medical experts for the below additional risks of extreme dieting:
Gallstones and Gallbladder Attacks
Rapid weight loss can significantly increase your chances of forming gallstones, which can be very small or the size of golf balls. Gallstones cause exceptionally painful gallbladder attacks, and can make you quite sick. The high probability of suffering from them is likely due to the extreme changes in fat metabolism when you lose weight rapidly.
Since crash diets involve the severe restriction of nutrients, often leaving out whole food groups, it can lead to malnourishment and illness if you maintain this cycle of regular eating and crash dieting over prolonged periods of time. Most people have good nutritional stores, so deprivation in the short term isn’t going to have any adverse effects. It’s the long-term that’s worrying.
Weakened Immune System
When your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs in order to function properly; it takes a toll on your immune system. Your body becomes less able to fight off viruses and bacteria because it isn’t strong enough to produce the white blood cells needed.
As a result, you will likely find that you become sick more often, and it might take you longer to recover as a result. Even cuts and scrapes may take longer than usual to heal.
Since your body won’t be getting the nourishment it needs or enough calories, you will find that you are more exhausted than usual. Even after a full night of sleep, you will likely feel your energy fading fast throughout the day because you’re burning more energy than you’re producing. A balanced diet that is nutritionally rich will leave you feeling energized.
Rebounding or Yo-Yoing
Once you have lost all that weight, keeping it off is going to be even harder. This is because of the starvation mode we mentioned earlier. Your body no longer knows when its next full meal is going to be, so your metabolism will slow, and it will store more of the fat ready for the next time you fast. It also means that you’re going to regain the weight you lost much quicker.
You Don’t Stand to Benefit from Extreme Diets
There is very little research to indicate that extreme diets are good for anything except very short-term weight loss results that you can’t sustain, and that you’ve compromised your overall health to achieve. You might feel great that you lost masses of weight in a few weeks, but the long-term effects on your body and the potential risks of illness aren’t worth it.
Find Out the Healthiest Diet Plan For You by Using DNA Insights
Your DNA can tell you a lot about which diet plans suit you best, such as the mediterranean diet versus a low-carb diet. Depending on your genetic makeup, your body will respond better to certain diets. You can find this out by taking a CircleDNA test and reading your genetic diet and nutrition reports.
Extreme diets are just not worth the effort. There are so many potential risks, especially for your long-term health, and all of that to achieve drastic weight loss that will be almost impossible for you to maintain without entering a harmful cycle of indulging and fasting.
The best diets to use are those that shift your habits to healthier eating habits, and are carried out over a long period of time, leading to healthy weight loss without a negative impact on your metabolism or your health. We know that for some people, it’s not always easy following the traditional route of a healthy balanced diet, limiting excess calories in the form of limiting late-night snacking, and exercising regularly. Traditional methods of losing weight work better , they’re just slower, but that’s okay. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Penn Medicine, Seven Reasons Why Crash Diets Don’t Work: https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2018/june/crash-diets-and-weight-loss
- Obesity Action, Risks of the Crash Diet: https://www.obesityaction.org/resources/the-risks-of-the-crash-diet/
Nutritionist Resource, Extreme Diets That Don’t Work: https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/memberarticles/extreme-diets-that-dont-work
- Net Doctor, Are Crash Diets Ever a Good Idea?: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-eating/a25288668/are-crash-diets-bad-for-you/NCBI,
- Pros and Cons of Some Popular Weight Loss Diets: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6366252/