Crash Diets!

“All parts of the body which have function, if used in moderation and exercised in labours in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed, and age more slowly, but if unused, they become liable to disease, defective growth, and age quickly.”
– Hippocrates

At some point in our lives we may have been tempted to lose weight by limiting the food we eat in a drastic way (crash dieting) and introducing a form of “calorie deficiency” through quick fix programs. Losing 10 pounds fast for that wedding, high school reunion or office party next month is doable in our minds. However, weight loss achieved through continuous caloric deficiency in the body can ultimately result in some serious health consequences! For example, with this type of restricted calorie program, the body’s metabolic rate slows down to conserve energy. It is one of the main reasons that severely restricted caloric weight loss diets actually trigger weight gain as soon as normal eating patterns are resumed. Once your metabolic rate slows down, a large amount of the food energy consumed will be stored as body fat because the body is trying to safe-guard itself from perceived starvation.

Drastically reducing or stopping eating puts your body at risk. Crash diets are dangerous for your heart, kidneys, liver, and brain because you lose lean tissue around them. If you continue to practice crash dieting, your body will actually burn the muscle tissue surrounding the organs in order to provide the brain with sufficient energy to function. This puts the body at risk for liver and kidney failure, heart attack and stroke and even death. You may develop iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency or potassium and sodium deficiency. The latter two play an important role in regulating the way that your heart beats. If their levels become too low, you could have a heart attack.

Crash diets don’t work. They may help you lose a few pounds quickly, but as soon as you go back to eating normally, the weight will come back on within a few days. The effective way to lose weight is through moderate calorie restriction combined with exercise. A well rounded fitness program should include aerobic activities that condition the heart and lungs, strength training that maintains muscle mass, and stretching exercises for flexibility. The great thing about exercise is the choice. You are not committed to just one activity. You have numerous activities to choose from. This makes it easier to find an activity, or numerous activities, that you like and can stick with. Keep a journal or log of all your food intake and exercise activity. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and motivation each time you eat well and exercise.

This type of program combines healthy calorie restriction and targeted exercise sessions that build lean body mass and burn fat. Losing weight in a healthy and permanent manner through lifestyle changes that are manageable, practical and affordable will provide the energy and stamina necessary to function normally. Weight loss is a healthy goal. Don’t ruin it by crash dieting in hopes of losing a few extra pounds to look good. It isn’t worth the long term risk to your health.

Tammy BartonTammy Barton, PTS, YFS, YNS, is the owner of FUNdamentals Fitness, providing individuals and families with 14 years of seasoned personal training experience.  Check out FUNdamentals Fitness online at or email Tammy at to learn more.


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