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Why Crash Diets Don't Work

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Spring is finally here which means bikini season is just around the corner!

For some, it may also signal the start of crash diets – we restrict our food intake, count calories, eat only cabbage (?!?) and diligently work out seven days a week. The kilos come off and we feel great until one month, two months or even six months later when the inevitable happens, we fall off the bandwagon and regain all those kilos we worked so hard to lose.

Unfortunately, 95% of people who go on a diet end up regaining weight within a year.

Why crash diets don't work?

The most common reason is that many of us are too severe with our food restrictions and develop habits that are not sustainable long-term. By starving ourselves or only eating certain foods or juices, our body is deprived of the important nutrients needed to function properly. It enters survival mode as it preserves whatever energy it can by slowing down the metabolism. The end result is that when we begin eating normally again, the weight quickly returns and often leaving us heavier than we were to begin with.

Crash diets can also cause fatigue, poor concentration, depleted energy levels, mood swings and increased blood pressure. In some can even lead to depression and eating disorders.

So what can we do to keep the weight off?

We cannot emphasize this enough: there are no shortcuts to long-term weight loss!

Losing weight and keeping it off requires dedication and persistence but the good news is it doesn’t have to completely overtake all aspects of life. There are a number of ways we can lose and maintain our weight long term:

  • Take it easy – aim to lose weight over a number of months rather than weeks as this will allow our mind and body to adjust to any lifestyle or nutritional changes we may need to make
  • Moderation – aside from eating a well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, carbs and protein, we should also focus on portion control. Rather than cutting out certain foods all together (such as bread or pasta), consume them in smaller amounts and we should definitely enjoy that occasional guilt-free cheat meal!
  • Get visual – track progress using photos and measurements, and not so much by the number on the scale as weight can fluctuate depending on meal times, going to the bathroom and drinking water
  • Get real and get sweaty – incorporate a realistic exercise regime that works and is sustainable – going to the gym twice a day or running 10km every morning before work may not be so easy to maintain so aim for 3-4 great workouts per week and make sure to include rest days

Finally, and most importantly, don’t obsess. We are rarely the best version of ourselves on crash diets (hello hangry), but by adopting positive eating habits, regular exercise, occasional treats and an optimistic mindset, maintaining a comfortable weight should be achievable in the long run.

If you enjoyed this piece on the cons of crash diets, then read more at the Kula Athletic Blog.

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