Crash dieting has been popular in today's culture for several years now. It is the concept of taking on a diet that restricts a great amount of calories with the goal of losing a high amount of fat in a short period of time. Technically speaking, will you lose fat on an excessively caloric restrictive diet like this? Sure. Although you are still losing massive amounts of macro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water that your body needs to function at it's highest metabolic level. This restrictive eating pattern comes with multitudes of health risks in both the short-term and long-term. Let's take a dive into why I believe a Summer Crash Diet is not optimal for you physical or mental well-being.
People interested in a Crash Diet should understand what being in a severe negative energy balance (eating less calories than you're burning) for an extended period of time is really doing to your body. After just a day or two. if your body is not receiving enough energy from food it will begin using protein as energy, rather than the depleted stores of carbohydrates and fats. This process is not something your body prefers to due since protein is needed in so many other places such as muscle growth/health, and a great amount of metabolic functions. So yes, your body will begin to burn fat, but you are also burning these other vital nutrients that your body relies on to take on the tasks of everyday!
The physical effects to this style of eating are only the half of it. People who take part in a Crash Diet tend to burnout from the tasking mental and social pressure these changes bring. Is it really worth giving up your favorite dish or dessert when out celebrating with friends for an occasion? It doesn't have to be this way, as you can have your favorite foods and lose fat or build muscle (my favorite play on the saying, "have your cake, and eat it too"). However, if you already fell into diet cultures trap and plan on restricting yourself to serious measures, the answer to that question would unfortunately be yes, even though most people I speak to don't actually want to go to serious measures. They tell me time and time again they love bread, ice cream, etc. but feel guilty and don't know what else to do.
Can you relate? Sound a little too familiar? You may stick to a certain pattern, then eventually give in, eat the food in excess, feel guilty, give up, and regain the weight. Then you tell yourself you need to be "better" and re-start the diet, thinking YOU failed...when really the diet was so extreme and actually did the exact opposite of what you started it for, so it was impossible to succeed in the first place. It's like a toxic cycle, and you are just wanting to get off. You begin a diet to lose fat, but the diets you are on are so extreme they cause muscle loss with the fat loss, down-regulate your metabolism, and cause weight regain making it harder to succeed EACH time, but pin it on you as the problem.
In today's society, we are always on the move with our full-day agenda of things to do. The last thing you want to be adding into your life is a diet that is going to place some pretty serious stress on your shoulders to manage it. Let's not get started on the emotional distress we can feel always being hungry. Fortunately, I have some dietary ideas you can add into your life that will last much longer than a few weeks!
Adapting a positive lifestyle change is the best answer to fat loss goals. This starts with recreating your relationship with foods. Many of us slip into labeling foods as good or bad, low-sugar or high-sugar, the list goes on and on. The same food mindset is applied to restrictive dieting. Instead, if we become aware of certain negative outlooks we might have on foods, we can respond by applying a more positive approach to our eating patterns. These practices focus on a more positive relationship with food, which turns into a more positive personal relationship with our mind and body. Not only will this mindset readjust negative relationships with food you may have deemed as bad, but it can also help with diversifying your diet by adding in more nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables as well. Recreating relationships with food and our personal image will have a much greater beneficial effect on our health and wellness compared to a short-term fix like most Crash Diets.
Fruits are a food that have been demonized by recent dogmatic diet culture. People tend to believe that since fruit contains sugar, it can't possibly be a good option for anyone looking to take control of their weight or blood-sugar levels. Contrary to this thinking, fruit is high in fiber which helps with insulin sensitivity. Fructose is the sugar in fruit that has received a bad rep for so many years. The blame for this belongs to extracted fructose that is part of white/table sugar a.k.a. added sugars. When consumed from eating whole fruits that are natural sugars, the negative aspects do not carry over the way we see with free-standing sugars (1).
One of my favorite fruits are bananas. They are loaded with vitamins like B6 and C, as well as the electrolytes potassium and magnesium. This makes bananas a great option for a pre-workout energy boost, or to refuel our muscle as part of a post-workout meal. Since bananas are a good source of carbohydrates, I recommend balancing them with a healthy fat, like peanut butter or almond butter to make the perfect snack option. Check out one of my favorite mid-day snack options that keeps me fueled for hours and will only take you one minute to prepare:
Banana & Almond Butter drizzled with Honey and Cinnamon
1 medium banana
1hen tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp honey (preferably raw honey)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Slice banana into 1 in. size pieces
Use knife to spread almond butter on banana while laying on a plate
drizzle honey over banana while it is on plate
sprinkle cinnamon over top of honey, and enjoy!
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Questions and/or thoughts on this blog post, or want to know how to work with me to reach your nutrition, fitness and health goals?
Send me a message at www.EnergizeNutritionRD.com (bottom of home page titled "Send Me a Quick Message") and I will get back to you as soon as possible!
Semnani-Azad, Z. et al. Association of Major Food Sources of fructose-containing sugars with incident metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA network open (2020). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7348689/.