With summer in full swing, we are in what is commonly referred to as “bikini season.” People everywhere are trying to get their beach bodies ready by testing out a slew of popular crash diets. Unfortunately, this leaves many unsatisfied when they regain the weight as soon as the diet ends. Here is some insight to why crash diets don’t work and how they could potentially harm instead of help you.

Losing weight quick doesn’t necessarily mean you are losing fat. A drop in weight can come from a number of different sources. For instance, you may only be losing water weight. As soon as you resume your old eating habits, you will instantly gain the weight back, sometimes even gaining more. Roughly 65% of dieters return to their pre-diet weight once the diet is finished. Only 5 percent of crash dieters are successful in keeping the weight off. This is a startling number considering the enormous number of people who use crash dieting as their primary method of weight loss.

So why is it that when people drastically reduce their food intake, they do not get the results they want? Having a sudden and harsh restriction in your diet causes your body to go into conservation mode. Basically what this means is that your body starts to conserve in order to survive on limited external resources. In this mode, the body feels threatened that food may be scarce; therefore its natural instinct is to conserve fat. Fat helps keep the body warm, which is essential to survive. Instead of losing fat, water and muscle may be the first things to go.

Aside from being ineffective, crash diets also carry a number of risks. When you lose weight too quickly, your bones may start to become weaker and lose some of their density. Crash diets can be compared to that of an eating disorder because often times you are in fact, starving yourself. Just as with an eating disorder, crash dieting can cause muscles to atrophy. Fat is typically burned through cardiovascular exercise, but if you are simply dieting with no physical exercise, that weight you see dropping on the scale could actually be muscle loss. Crash diets can also cause cardiovascular problems such as heart palpitations or even a heart attack.

Crash diets have a negative effect on your metabolism. To effectively lose weight and keep it off, your eating habits should be changed gradually, and in doing so, you are more likely to maintain healthier eating habits. Serious restrictive dieting as a means to lose weight should also not be used as a substitute for physical exercise. It takes a combination of healthy eating and exercise to keep your body in top shape. It is recommended that you should only aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week if you are trying to lose weight. Doing it this way will give your body’s metabolism a chance to adjust and to actually stay that way once you reach your target weight.

For more information on dieting and proper nutrition, check out CoachUp’s other nutrition resource articles.

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