Do crash diets actually work?

Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.

Most of us want a boost of self-esteem as the new year starts. January is often when a lot of people begin to go to the gym once more. Keeping up the motivation to go to the gym regularly is always the toughest part of the journey and many people opt for solutions, such as crash diets, which provide quicker results. But are crash diets truly effective?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a crash diet is “a way of losing a lot of weight very quickly by limiting how much one eats.”

However, this method of rapidly losing weight is not sustainable since it causes more harm to a person’s health in the long run. Gordon Palmer, personal training team leader of the Global Fitness & Racquet Centre agreed that “crash diets can work, but it’s just a temporary fix and can cause more health issues than they solve.”

While it is plausible to lose the weight through these diets, Medical News Today stated that most of the weight lost will likely be from water rather than body fat. For example, diets such as juicing may help you lose up to 10 pounds within a week, but it can lead to dehydration, fatigue and even disruption in women’s menstrual cycle. Palmer stated that these extreme diet plans come with long term risks ranging from “a damaged metabolic system or Thyroid function, to hormone imbalances and negative microbiome changes.”

As our daily lives tend to feel very hectic, we wind up wanting results to show immediately. Hence, many popular diet programs include short time frames. Palmer advised against that unless your weight is immediately affecting your health. “Learn the skills necessary to live a healthy lifespan and the excess weight will come off,” he added.

There are also better alternatives to crash diets. It is important to have a regular realistic weight loss goal within a reasonable period of time. Instead of limiting your diet to certain foods, Fitness Magazine suggests having a balanced diet, which includes using “fresh fruits and vegetables as [the] main source of carbohydrates and add more lean protein, such as chicken and fish, to help eliminate excess fluid retention caused by too much sodium intake.”

Ultimately, a healthy diet is not very effective with an unhealthy lifestyle. Palmer lastly recommended an active willingness to change bad habits by examining key areas like exercise activity, sleep, stress management and nutritional supplementation.