By Arinola Odunuga
A crash diet is typically a low-calorie diet where you eat very restrictively for a short period of time.
They can be very tempting because of the promised quick fix for a long term problem with popular ones like the juice diet and military diet leaving you with an all or nothing approach to eating.
While these diets may help you lose a significant amount of weight in time for that wedding, vacation or photoshoot, the results are generally short-lived and can have a negative impact on your body.
When you cut your calories drastically and quickly, your body may respond by losing weight but most of these will be water weight.
Your brain is going to send your body the signal that you are starving, because your body’s number one priority is to keep you alive and as far as it’s concerned, you’re stuck on a deserted island eating way less calories than you need for your weight.
It responds by slowing down your metabolic rate. This process is called metabolic adaptation.
Depending on how much body fat you had when you started, it may take only days or weeks or even months for this metabolic slow down to happen but when it happens you are going to plateau because your body is desperately holding on to the fat that you have left for energy stores.
Scientist Kevin Hall carried out a study on contestants from The Biggest Loser Season 8 show. This study documented the long-term weight loss results of contestants for over six years and found that 13 of the 14 contestants did regain most if not all of the weight that they lost on the show.
The rate at which their metabolic rate slowed was high, with nearly all the contestants having a slower metabolism at the end of the study than they did before the show because the method used was very extreme; significant calorie reductions from their previous intake and over exercising.
Yes, the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit but the more drastic you cut these calories, the more quickly your metabolism will decrease.
You’re better off with a slower progression. Give yourself more time with realistic weight loss goals by:
1. Reducing alcohol intake
2. Reducing sugary and processed foods
3. Including more lean protein in your diet
4. Increasing dietary soluble fibre
5. Including some form of weight training in your exercise program. You can start with body weight or resistance bands workout. This will help with increasing your resting metabolic rate (energy you burn in a state of rest).
One of the most important ways to lose weight safely and maintain your metabolism while doing so is to make sure to have enough lean proteins in your diet. Proteins are the building blocks for muscles so if you lose weight by cutting your calories drastically without enough protein you don’t have the building blocks to keep your muscle mass. Thus you’ll lose fat but you’ll also be losing substantial amounts of muscle, slowing down your metabolic rate.
It is imperative that you build your calories back up slowly when you’re done with cutting and getting into more of a maintenance phase over the course of a couple of weeks, depending on how restrictive the diet you were on, because if you all of a sudden jump from 1200 calories a day to 2500 calories in the course of a couple of days, you’ll experience fat loss rebound, gaining all the weight you lost and most likely more ending up being worse off than you started.
–– Odunuga is a certified fitness trainer and is the founder of Easyfit, a brand that aims to simplify the obscurity that people have about fitness. You can follow @Easyfitng on instagram for fitness tips, motivation and healthy recipes and reach her at Easyfitng@gmail.com.