Will Crash Dieting Make You Fat?

Obesity has become a way of life for American people. More than half the population is overweight. More than 40 million people are obese and more than 3 million are morbidly obese. Improper lifestyle choices, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise are few reasons behind this epidemic. A lot of these people are informed offenders. They know what it takes to lose weight but cannot bring themselves up to it. Yet another section of these people do not have proper knowledge of doing things right.

Dieting is one such thing where everyone resorts to when the scale goes overboard. But there are many dangers of crash dieting which if one is not aware of can bring in a lot of misery. A lot of fad diets will be publicized by the media at any given point of time. They involve extreme deprivation and are seldom backed by any scientific logic. They promise quick results at the cost of impairing the general health of the individual.

In this article, we will discuss the risks associated with uninformed crash dieting.

Though the idea of crash dieting is to lose weight quickly, the reverse is what is bound to happen. That is not to say that you would be gaining weight or becoming fat but you will be losing weight by losing muscle mass and not fat.

Experts are of the opinion that overweight sedentary dieters don’t tend to lose much fat through a crash diet which is better known as a quick weight loss diet. Instead, the little bit of your body fat which is lost, is from the most unsightly places and can prove to be harmful for you.

2 Illusionary Assumptions of Crash Dieting

Overweight or obese people are often under the illusion of or have a misconception about 2 basic assumptions of crash dieting which are listed below:

  • Diet does not affect the speed at which the body functions, that is, the metabolic rate.
  • Crash diets burn fat fast.

Experts opine that any diet that promises initial weight loss up to 5 to 7 kilos a week is misleading. The body’s first reaction to a diet that deprives you of essential nutrients is drawing up from the available source of energy which is called “glycogen”.

Glycogen is an immediate source of energy that fuels the brain. Glycogen, a carbohydrate, is stored in the muscles and liver. Whenever an obese dieter tries to adapt to a new diet (crash diet), the glycogen is released and used by the body. As a result, the body begins to lose both fat and muscles. Unfortunately, for dieters, it is the muscles which are lost more than the fat.

How does Crash Dieting affect our body?

Crash dieting works in quiet a contrary way as people perceive it to work. For instance, crash diets compel the body to look for other sources of energy apart from using its own available source, that is, glycogen.

In the process, the body tends to easily obtain energy from the muscle tissues located around the face and neck rather than from the tougher and harder fats accumulated around the hips, thighs and upper arms.

Crash dieting will make you miserably scrawny. Notice the face of quick weight loss dieters, who are eventually left with deep sunken eyes, frail necks and heavy hips or thighs.

An empty stomach, whether a result of ignorance, poverty or deliberate measures to lose weight are afflicted with something the scientists call “Negative Nitrogen Balance”. This clearly is a situation where you’re the body of a dieter is letting out more nitrogen than the amount that is taken in. Dieting thereby doesn’t help in losing weight as effectively as it can cost you your life.

What Happens when there is a Negative Nitrogen Balance?

In such a situation, the body undergoes the following negative responses:

  • Your body loses muscle mass but not fat.
  • Organs like liver, kidney, muscles all begin to become smaller.
  • Brain tissue is also affected to the extent of becoming smaller.

The brain is irreplaceable. So as you can see, you can be literally starving to death. Also, contrary to the belief, starvation does not cause your fat cells to disappear. This was demonstrated by a team of researchers at the Rockefeller University, United States of America, where rats were barely fed to keep them alive.

It was seen that the starving rats had already used up the reserve fats for energy and were now beginning to eat up their muscles, organs and connective tissues but certainly not from their fat cells.

Dr Irving Faust, a member of the Rockefeller team, is of the opinion that “Fat cells appear to be fully protected during starvation.”

This clearly throws light on the insignificance of starving unless you are really reduced to such a condition of misery.

Dieting thereby can help you lose fat over a period of time but can you imagine how much harm you may have already caused to your brains and almost all organs?

This happens because negative nitrogen balance through insufficient eating over a long period of time breaks your immunity levels, which now makes you more dangerously susceptible to diseases that can be fatal.

Usually, the body is able to maintain its nitrogen levels when we eat the right foods and let out an equal amount of nitrogen through wastes. The old nitrogen is thereby replaced with new nitrogen. It is as simple as understanding what your body really needs rather than forcing it to see its end too soon. So, eat healthy and stay active to live a well-rounded life.

Finally, we sum up the dangers of dieting.

Top 5 Dangers of Dieting

1. Slows down Metabolic rate
Drastic dieting entails going without food for long periods of time or being on a very low calorie diet. Excess dieting leads to starvation. The body starts thinking you are struck by a famine or food is simply not available. It starts to conserve energy and slows down the metabolism.

2. Increased Fat storage
Taking a cue from the previous point where the body suffers from the perception that there is a famine around, we can try to explain this point. The body being unsure as to when the next meal would be available, starts to store most of what is eaten as fat for future use. In a normal situation, where an individual takes 5 small meals throughout the day the body is more efficient in converting the food into energy which can be used up while engaging in physical activity.

Research has proved that an enzyme lipoprotein lipase which is essentially found in fat cells and determines how much fat would be stored in the cells can also hamper weight loss. In obese subjects, the enzyme becomes more active following a weight loss. It increases the probabilities of fat storage in the cells making weight loss inconsistent.

3. Loss of Muscle mass
The ideal goal of any weight loss plan is to lose body fat and not muscle. But drastic dieting and very low calorie diet causes irreversible damage to muscle mass. Low calorie diets which are less than 800 calories per day can cause a 3-6% loss of muscle mass in obese people. This may bring down the overall calorie requirements of the body and increases the chances of future weight gain. Muscles are the best fat burners. Lean muscles help in burning calories even when the body is at rest.

4. Depression
Dieting without exercise is no good. It can create unrealistic expectations in individuals. Besides, after a particular time period, as the metabolism slows down it is possible that one hits a plateau. Constant deprivation can cause a hormonal imbalance in the body. Dieting can be accompanied with psychological stress and depression. Exercise is known to help increase the feel good hormones like serotonin and adrenaline and can help one get over depression as well as a weight loss plateau.

5. Death
Extreme dieting like those involving liquid diet for days or very low calorie diets have led to death in the past. The immunity is weakened and the individual becomes more susceptible to disease.

So a multi pronged approach is needed when it comes to weight loss. The dangers of dieting can be mitigated by not relying on it alone. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. An informed strategy involving the two can help bring in permanent weight loss.

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