Almost every women tries a diet in her life in order to lose some pounds. Fancy crash diets are attractive, as losing up to “10 pounds in 3 days” is what many women wish for – and let´s be honest, who would not want a beach body in 3 days?! But the wish of losing “some pounds” can easily turn into fanaticism and in the worst case entail an eating disorder. So let´s take a look in detail at what strict dieting may involve.
What are the main problems?
Dieting can damage your health, increase the risk of obesity and lead to serious nutritional deficiencies in the body.1
- Developing a distorted relationship with food
Going on a diet means in other words restricting the caloric intake, if it simply is by eating half of the amount you usually do, by replacing your meals with liquids or by skipping certain food groups. In doing so, many people disconnect from their natural body responses, such as hunger to control their food amount.2 In the worst case this can cause an excessive attention to food, making it your enemy and thus causing guilt when you eat.
- Becoming unsocial
In many cases people that are dieting control what and how much they eat to an extent that it is hard for them to join social events, such as dinner with their friends. In the worst case, this can result in the skipping of activities to avoid the risk of being exposed to food.
- The yo-yo effect
Another scenario implies the result of intense food cravings, which can lead to the typical yo-yo effect.3 In the end you may not only put the pounds back on that you had before, but also even a few more – so definitely not worth the effort. Linda Bacon, Ph.D. from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York states that when practicing yo-yo dieting blood vessels can be damaged, due to the shrinking and growing which can result in micro tears setting the stage for atherosclerosis or other types of heart disease.4 The eating disorders Victoria website even states that 95% of people who go on weight loss diets regain everything they have lost plus more within two years.5
- Heart problems
Especially crash dieting can increase the risk of heart attacks, reported an in April 2010 published CNN Health article due to studies at the Medical College.6 "A crash diet once won't hurt your heart," Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College says, "But crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attacks."7
- Increased risk of obesity
Reducing the calorie intake triggers an alarm in the body that food is scarce. This leads to changes in gene expression, which in turn causes excess storage of calories when they become available again.8 The Eating Disorders Victoria website refers to a study of adolescents which showed that after a 3 year of follow-up period, regular adolescent dieters gained more weight than non-dieters.9
- Risk of type 2 diabetes
Through drastic calorie restriction a shift towards a higher percentage of body fat takes place within the body, which may increase the risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.10
- Nutritional deficiencies
Cutting out a large portion of the calories you usually consume can easily lead to caloric and nutritional deficiencies, which can cause symptoms such as “headaches, muscle cramps, constipation, trouble sleeping and loss of bone density”, the health magazine livestrong reports.11 Not only this, it can also extremely reduce the body's normal metabolic rate leading to tiredness and fatigue.12
- It is counterproductive
Dieting does not only slow the rate at which the body burns calories, it also reduces your energy levels and lowers your body temperature so that you are feeling cold more easily. It also reduces your total amount of muscle tissue.13
What to do instead?
Stay away from crash diets and stick to a healthy diet, which is rich in fruit, vegetables and protein. Replacing a meal a day with a protein shake, will still keep you full and your body can profit from a smaller waistline. Combine this healthy nutrition with exercise, even if modest – going to work by bike is already a beginning. Cut out candy and processed food from your diet, but do not punish yourself when reaching for a little piece of chocolate, because a little treat once in a while is definitely okay.
- http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/key-research-a-statistics http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/lose-weight-dangers
- http://www.livestrong.com/article/352609-three-main-dangers-of-dieting/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/352609-three-main-dangers-of-dieting/ http://www.thankyourbody.com/dangers-of-dieting/