There are many diet plans on the market, and if the hype about some of these diets is to be believed, they promise rapid weight loss, often without any exercise or calorie counting according to their ads. Some even promise to help you lose 30 pounds in 30 days.
These diets, commonly referred to as crash diets, may work in the short term, but have long-term negative effects. Many crash diets are based on skipping meals or living on cabbage soup or their special juice or other type of food substitute.
While most people can sustain a crash diet for perhaps 2 or 3 days, and lose some weight, a crash diet can also seriously disrupt the body's metabolism, the way it uses the food it eats.
When you are eating normally, the body uses what you eat for nutrients and calories, which fuel all of our essential bodily functions, such as breathing, digestion and movement. Experts calculate that most people's resting metabolism is about 1800 calories a day.
That means even if they do not get any exercise, the body needs that amount of energy to function properly. However, some people have fast metabolisms and some slower ones, for a variety of reasons. These reasons include hormonal activities, the ratio of muscle to fat in the body, and more.
The USDA recommendation for daily calorie intake for women is 2000 calories a day and for men 2500. Gaining a pound takes an extra 2000 calories in the diet. Losing one pound takes 3500 calories burned. It is easy to see therefore, that weight loss is difficult unless we increase our level of exercise in order to be able to lose weight safely, at the level of 1 to 2 pounds per week, NOT per day as crash diets promise.
When you diet, and restrict calories, the body starts to break down its own fat cells, which is where excess calories are stored in order to save them in case they are ever needed. When you begin a crash diet, you are forcing the fat cells to give up their reserves.
While the fat cells may do this for a couple of days, however, a crash diet will eventually trigger a reaction in the body which causes it to go into starvation mode. In other words, your body will begin to hang on to every single calorie you take in, leading to no weight loss, or even weight gain.
So while you may lose weight for a few days on a crash diet, mostly water weight as the fat cells break down, crash diets can't be kept up for more than a week without serious consequences.
The "diet rebound" that a crash diet will eventually cause can damage your metabolism, and leave you even more frustrated and unhappy with your weight than before you started your crash diet. You will suffer yet another diet failure, and might end up carrying even more unhealthy excess pounds than when you started your crash diet.
Crash diets can often be expensive in terms of money, but they are even more costly in terms of your health. A mild to moderate diet of consistent weight loss through calorie counting and increasing your level of activity through walking, cycling, aerobics or other activities you enjoy, will help you lose weight and keep it off without crashing and burning.