Extreme Dieting and it’s Side Effects

Nod your head if you’ve said these 6 words:

“I should go on a diet”.

Now nod your head if you’ve said these words MULTIPLE times in your lifetime.

An overwhelming majority of Americans — at least 45 million of us, according to CBS News — are on some type of diet. And according to Wellsphere, a website sponsored by Stanford University, the statistics show that only 5 percent of people who lose weight on a crash diet will actually keep the weight off. Just take a look at the competitors on extreme weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser. I can almost guarantee that at least half of them are heavier than before they started show. Makes me sad knowing they worked extremely hard just to come out in a worst state mentally and physically.

If you are amongst these millions, I hope this blog offers you an insight as to why crash diets don’t work and how they can negatively impact you long-term.


Temporary Results

It is not possible to continue for long on super low carb or low fat diets. We know this, yet we continue to try one after another because we desire the QUICK fix.

Basics – People who adopt crash diets normally cut down their calorie intake and as a result, the body is starved of the vital nutrients and in most cases, you only end up losing water weight – If you lose a lot of weight quickly, it doesn’t  necessarily mean you’re shedding fat.

So after a few weeks into your extremely painful diet, you have lost a few pounds and you’re ready for the special occasion you’ve been killing yourself for… so what happens next? You know what happens.

The moment you eat a slice of cake or tiny serving of ice cream, you gain 5 pounds. Shhhhhhhhhhh*t. Your lost weight is back and it’s on roaring rampage of revenge. You deprived your body and as a result, you will end up being in the vicious cycle of dieting and bingeing with absolutely no results.

Cravings & Crashes

If your previous meals were full of carbohydrates, a healthy (normal) pancreas will release a lot of insulin. Respectively, if youconsume a low carb meal, that insulin finds no sugars to store; except the glucose in your blood that is meant to feed your cells.

As a result, the insulin removes this glucose from your blood, giving you low blood sugar – aka “the crash”.  The brain then interprets this low blood sugar as an emergency and starts screaming, “I’m starving yo! So feed me now!” It is at this point the flood gates open and we experience an overwhelming powerful craving for sugar and carbs! Try and stop this freight train with a green leafy salad. Ya, that’s not going to happen.

Insulin response is always dependent on your own physiology, so please be mindful of your health history.

All Out of Whack

In the course of crash dieting, for rapid weight loss, major food groups and micronutrients are excluded. Healthy fats are deemed as the enemy and carbs no longer exist. As a result, nutritional deficiencies are bound to set in. This has the potential to lower your immunity and make you susceptible to various illnesses, cause exhaustion and can wreak havoc on your sleep.

Eating too few calories can also take a toll on your digestion. Your gut relies heavily on nutrients, like fiber, in order to work properly. So by cutting out essential foods you are completely throwing your system off and can experience issues like constipation or severe bloating. This will then cause a ripple effect onto many other processes like your energy levels and physical appearance (skin).

Loss of Muscle

Prolonged sustenance on crash dieting will make you lose muscle mass. Why? Because you’re in a malnourished state and in order to build or even sustain muscle, your body requires a sufficient amount of nutrients daily. You would just end up looking a shrunken version of yourself rather than being fit and healthy by losing weight slowly and steadily. Not to mention, you are putting your bones at risk. Eating too few calories can make your bones more frail and less dense.

Fatigue and Mood Changes

Say goodbye to your family and friends because no one wants to be around you when you’re dieting. You are a walking zombie, you’re irritable and “hangry” all the time. I don’t know anyone who is a happy camper when they’re completely deprived of food.

Slowed Metabolism

When you experience such extreme changes and fluctuations in your diet (and your waistline), your body has to adapt and change itself to keep up with your new eating pattern. For example, when you’re too restrictive with your calories, enter starvation mode. This essentially means that your metabolism slows in an effort to conserve as much energy as possible when you’re not properly fueling it with nutrients. The problem is that when go back to your normal eating pattern, your metabolism isn’t necessarily going to bounce right back with you! This in turn leads to weight gain equal to, or more than what you lost in the first place.

One size does NOT fit all

The 500-calorie diet is not meant for you. It is absolutely absurd to cut your calories to that extreme unless you are severely obese or overweight and you are under the supervision of a qualified physician. Any low-calorie diets that you find in a magazine or online should be forced to have this disclaimer: “This cookie cutter plan does not consider your healthy history or any health conditions you may currently have and will likely put you at risk for some serious health issues. Oh and be prepared to gain all of your weight back, plus more.”

I think I covered a bulk of the nasty repercussions, but if you’re still not sold on WHY extreme diets are absolutely terrible for you, here is a summary of the consequences:

debilitating effects on your body

mental degradation,

physical fatigue; continuous hunger pangs;

regaining of the lost weight after the diet + more weight (aka rebound dieting)

vulnerable to body image issues and eating disorders

Negative association with food

So, what’s next Nina?

It’s time to Cleanse, Re-Boot & Re-program

Cleanse your mind and vocabulary of the word “diet”. Sustainable progress comes from making better choices on a daily basis, not a 2-week diet (aka lifestyle changes). Be kind to yourself and clear your mind of all negative thoughts about your body. Stop comparing yourself to your genetically-gifted girlfriend or what you think you should look like. And embrace the fact your body needs time for healthy and permanent changes.

ReBoot your body and metabolism by slowly implementing whole sources of complex carbs and healthy fats. These foods are not the enemy and should not be associated with bad results. Weight gain can be attributed from a combination of poor dietary choices like refined carbs and unhealthy fats, poor sleep, dehydration, stress, hormones, etc. To ease you into this process, you can incorporate simple fat loss methods like Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting. Just check out these Podcasts if you want more information: Benefits of Intermittent Fasting & Intro to Carbs

Reprogram your routine with zero extreme habits; starting with your workouts. Don’t get crazy here – maybe 2 to 3 training days per week and allow yourself some much needed recovery time in between.  Re-feed intuitively by eating slowly and appreciating the nutrients that come from your food. I’d also recommend keeping track of your food consumption so that you are fully aware of how you are fueling your body and how certain foods make you feel. The accountability will help keep you on track with your goals.


Final Thoughts

With all this in mind, making slow and steady changes will be your best bet for achieving PERMANENT results. Focus on your daily habits and not an arbitrary # of calories. It’s imperative that you fuel sufficiently in order to support your bodies daily functions and to perform in an optimal state. This new lifestyle will requires PATIENCE  because this will NOT be an overnight fix.  Hell, it may even take 6 months just to get your metabolism back up in full gear.

True story – We have had clients not see results until one year later because of how terribly their bodies were functioning. And although the “repair” process was a b*tch, they stuck with it and trusted the process. How you treat your body now will have consequences and it definitely won’t bounce back like it did in your 20’s – thank you mother nature.  This of course is all individual based and depending on the damage that was done, you should anticipate a long road ahead of you.

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