Everybody wants to lose weight fast. However, the general consensus between health professionals is that crash dieting to achieve rapid weight loss is unsustainable and possibly even dangerous to your health. It is also commonly suggested that whilst crash dieting may get you the results you want in the short term; you will only regain the weight in the future.
So is there any way to get rapid weight loss results in a healthy way?
What is a crash diet?
A crash diet is one that is followed for a short time and restricts intake to very low levels in order to lose weight fast. Crash diets can include diets that eliminate certain food groups, juice or meal replacement diets, or simply reducing food intake to very low levels.
The one thing that they all have in common is that they restrict calorie intake to very low levels, or even eliminating it altogether in the case of a fasting diet, and are usually only followed for a short amount of time.
Why can crash diets be dangerous or unsuccessful?
Health professionals generally believe that crash diets are not a good way to achieve weight loss and keep it off in the long term. Although crash dieters are often successful in losing weight, the diet they are following is so restrictive that it is impossible to keep it up for very long.
Dieters then usually return to their previous eating habits and regain any weight that they have lost. It is also common to regain a little extra weight, as restricting intake to very low levels can shift the body into starvation mode, slowing down the metabolism.
In addition to this, much of the weight loss that seems so attractive in a crash diet is not attributed to fat loss, but instead to loss of water and muscle mass when carbohydrate or protein intake is severely restricted. Cutting calories back to very low levels also inhibits your ability to exercise, which is an important part of fast weight loss.
Crash dieting can also be very dangerous for the individual, firstly due to the likelihood of nutritional deficiency that comes with eliminating key food groups in the battle to reduce calories. Essential vitamins and minerals that the body requires for normal processes can be at risk if food intake is reduced to a very low level.
This can lead to various symptoms from the less serious lethargy and fatigue ranging all the way through to organ failure and death due to a lack of electrolytes in the body, although this is only likely when intake is restricted for a longer time period.
Very low intakes of protein can also be very dangerous as this may cause your body to start breaking down muscle and even organs to get the proteins it needs to function. In addition to this very fast weight loss leaves little time for the body to adapt and this puts a lot of stress on the heart which may cause arrhythmias or other problems. If you do manage to lose weight very fast, you are likely to see the effects on your body in the form of lose skin and stretch marks.
A slower weight loss at the recommended healthy rate of one to two pounds per week gives your body more of a chance to adjust to weight loss gradually.
Is it possible to lose weight fast in a healthy way?
Although crash diets are generally not recommended, there are some situations when they may be suitable and can be followed without doing damage to the body.
In the case of very obese individuals whose weights are clearly contributing to conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, or who cannot undertake surgical procedures safely until they have lost weight, doctors may prescribe a very low calorie diet.
However, unlike many crash diets, this diet will be carefully calculated and monitored to ensure nutritional adequacy and that the patient is not suffering any dangerous effects. Very low calorie diets using either food or nutritionally balanced meal replacements may be a safe way to lose weight fast and may have benefits for very overweight individuals, but should only be followed under medical supervision or in consultation with a dietician to ensure adequacy.
Although it is possible to lose three or even slightly more pounds a week through dieting and exercise, it is essential that you plan your diet to make sure it provides your daily requirements of essential nutrients.
A more successful way to lose weight and maintain weight loss may be to follow a plan that encourages faster weight loss to start, but then changes to a less restrictive maintenance phase that is easier to follow in the long term.
Foods to lose weight healthily
Good foods for losing weight in a healthy manner are those that are low in calories, but high in nutritional value. Fruit and vegetables are the ideal foods to fill you up, as they are low in calories but packed full of nutrients.
Lean protein, low fat dairy and high fiber foods such as legumes will also keep you fuller for longer. Remember to include a little fat in your diet as the body requires it, but make sure it is of a healthy unsaturated type and that fat is very energy dense so don’t overdo it.