According to HealthResearchFunding.org,
- 65% of those who finish a fad diet regain all the weight AND more than 95% dieters relapse from a diet in 5 years or less.
The Centers For Disease Control report,
- 2/3 of all American adults are dieting at any given time with the goals of losing weight or preventing weight gain but only 5% of these dieters will keep off any of the weight they lose.
When it comes to weight loss, experts recommend steady, long-term plans. Moreover, they recommend people to stay away from fad diets and programs that make unrealistic promises like dramatic weight loss in short time with very little effort.
There’s a very good reason for this — rapid weight loss may have negative effects on your health.
For starters, crash diets slow down your metabolism. Which, in turn, makes it hard for you to lose more weight and maintain your weight loss over time. The Obesity Action Coalition explains that a drastic reduction of calorie intake makes your body think it’s being starved. To protect itself from losing any more weight, your body slows down your metabolism.
But since crash diets tend to be too restrictive and hard to follow, it’s common for people to inevitably break their diets, at which point they go back to eating “as usual,” and so no lasting effect can be gained. This combined with a slowed down metabolism, makes people not only regain any weight they might have lost. It also causes more weight gain.
However, there are other, more concerning effects of rapid weight loss. According to WebMD, “rapid weight loss creates physical demands on the body,” which may create an array of health issues such as:
- Gallstones. They occur in 12% to 25% of patients who lose large amounts of weight over several months. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues notes that the risk of gallstones increases when people lose more than 3 pounds per week.
- Dehydration. With extreme diets, many people reduce their water intake as well as their calorie intake. This may cause dehydration.
- Malnutrition. Extreme diets often restrict the types of foods or macronutrients you’re allowed to consume. Reducing the variety of foods as well as your calorie intake puts you at risk of not getting all the nutrients your body needs.
- Electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are substances your cells use to carry electrical impulses within themselves and to other cells. Sodium, potassium, and calcium are some of the electrolytes your body needs to function correctly. Extreme diets may reduce your electrolyte levels, putting you at risk of symptoms like muscle weakness, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
According to an article by CNN, crash diets may also cause heart problems. For example, it describes the case of a 55-year-old man who began experiencing heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and a sensation similar to a heart attack after engaging in a very low-calorie diet and vigorous exercise.
Another important aspect to consider is preexisting conditions. Crash diets may be particularly harmful to diabetics because changes in diet and low food intake will affect your blood sugar.
In this case, you’d need to monitor your blood sugar levels more often and adjust your medication, which you may need to do under your doctor’s supervision. Other effects of fad diets, like an increase in cholesterol and blood pressure, may have additional negative effects on someone with diabetes.
While some dramatic programs like very low-calorie diets may benefit some people. With proper monitoring from a medical professional, very low-calorie, diets can bring short-term benefits to obese patients who need to lose weight for health reasons. In all other cases, however, what doctors recommend is progressive weight loss through lifestyle changes, such as improving diet and exercising.
Experts define a successful weight loss plan by a loss of at least 10% of your body fat sustained for at least one year. To achieve this safely, you need to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week.
Any weight loss program that promises fast results without dieting or exercise, that promotes the use of pills, cleanses and extreme diets are not effective long term because they slow down your metabolism and make it hard to lose more weight.
More importantly, they may cause an array of health problems that may be easily prevented by adopting sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes to promote safe weight loss.