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Trash the crash diet

Miracle diets may promise instant weight loss, but they can wreak havoc on your health.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 19, 2010 00:51 IST
Kavita Wadhwa

Thinking about going on a crash diet to lose a few extra kilos before you slip into that form-fitting outfit? Well, do not fall into the trap of believing that crash diets are miracle diets that produce an immediate — and permanent — windfall in weight loss.

With the body not being supplied with enough calories, it slows down its metabolism and gets tuned to needing very few calories for its functioning. The decreased metabolism may be maintained for months, even after you resume a normal diet, making it more likely that you’ll put back all the weight that was lost, in addition to some additional kilos.

Injurious to health
Crash diets imply a serious lack of concern for proper nutrition, and differ from outright starvation only slightly. The body is deprived of essential nutrients, making it susceptible to health problems. Very soon, your skin loses its glow, hair tend to fall and nails become brittle. Long term dieting can put the vital organs at risk as the lean tissue around them and eventually their own muscle is burnt to produce energy for sustaining life.

Weight LossSuch diets are hard on your mental and emotional health, too. The sudden changeover from normal eating routine to a stricter diet can wreak havoc with your mood. You may get irritable, feel depressed and dizzy and want to sleep more to conserve energy.



Those who stick to such diets for long may even become uncoordinated and frequently suffer from anemia, osteoporosis, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke, apart from having reduced life expectancy.

Lose weight the healthy way
The only sensible way to lose weight is to shed it gradually. You should eat regular meals, pairing them with regular exercise. Focus on limiting the portion sizes, and always choose healthy foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruit, skim milk and yoghurt, enough of dals and whole grain cereals, and only small amounts of sugar or sugary foods. Stick to a moderate fat intake — remember that while a low fat diet is okay, a fat-free diet is not. Drink plenty of water and control alcohol intake.

Kavita Wadhwa is a nutritionist and author of books and several articles on health and nutrition. She can be reached at kavita.wadhwa@yahoo.co.in