We’ve all been there. It’s two weeks from a special event and you need to lose weight fast. You’ve been experimenting with different weight loss techniques and none seem to be working. You’re tired and ready for a quick fix. The seemingly obvious solution? Crash diet.
Crash diets (almost all fad diets are a type of crash diet) are diets that focus on deprivation in order to achieve extreme weight loss in a short span of time. From the Master Cleanse, to the Raw Food Diet, to Paleo, there seems to be a new fad diet cropping up daily. And while they promise that you’ll lose weight fast and may seem tempting — and on the surface, some might not even seem so unhealthy — fad diets are doing our bodies much more harm than good. Read on for 3 reasons to stay away.
The Focus is Deprivation
Fad diets all have one thing in common: deprivation. Whether it’s caloric deprivation (consuming under 1,200 calories per day), cutting out food groups (Paleo, Atkins, Raw Food), or in some cases all solid foods (juice cleanses), the focus of all crash diets is taking something significant away from your diet. While this may seem like a logical step when losing weight, it is not a viable one. Anyone who remembers their childhood knows that deprivation is never a good strategy — we all want what we can’t have and cutting entire food groups out of our diets is a surefire way to crave it even more.
While crash diets may lead to quick weight loss, this is only sustainable in the short term. Our bodies are not built to endure the type of deprivation that these diets demand. When calories are restricted, your body begins to burn muscle instead of fat, which can cause your metabolism to slow down. Instead of returning to a normal weight at the end of the diet, you may step on the scale and find you’ve actually gained weight. This type of yo-yo dieting is extremely dangerous and can have long-term health effects including increased risk of heart-disease, damage to arteries and the immune system; and reduced energy.
Food is not the enemy
Fad diets would have us believe that food is the enemy. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Food, when eaten in healthy proportions, can nourish and power our bodies. Instead of cutting out entire groups of food, which will also cut out much needed nutrients, we should focus instead on the quality foods we can add into our diets. From whole grains to nutrient dense fruits and veggies, there are plenty of satisfying foods that can be added to our diet to aid in weight loss.
The healthiest and most sustainable road to permanent weight loss is to lose weight slowly and consistently, aiming for 1-2 pounds per week. There is no ‘lose weight fast’ diet that will be sustainable in the long-term. Don’t expect a transformation over night — you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Try to focus on creating one healthy habit a week. Go for a 10 minute walk after dinner or switch your afternoon snack from a bag of chips to some popcorn. Focus on the positive and be proud of your accomplishments — no matter how small. And before you know it, you might be eager for that special occasion to come around.