We like things done fast. This is especially true when it comes to our fitness efforts. We want immediate results and expect to see our muscles bulging as soon as we leave the gym for the first time. But the frustrating truth is that this type of change happens gradually, whether we like it or not. This is likewise true when it comes to weight loss.
People often expect to see the weight just pour off of their bodies and the standard suggestion that “healthy weight loss” means only 1 or 2 pounds gone per week is just plain annoying to them. To compound the problem, marketers prey on this type of impatience by promising the near-immediate results that people really want. Are these “rapid weight loss” plans really meeting up to their claims and are they worth considering? Is there a better alternative?
A Look At Crash Diets
These diets, often called crash diets, take many different forms but usually have a few key aspects in common. First of all, they all promise rapid and amazing results. That’s how they sell. Second, they are generally extremely restrictive. Some of them require you to completely exclude certain foods or food groups from your diet, setting these things up as the villains that are solely responsible for your collection of body fat. Others go to the opposite extreme and demand that only eat a specific food. Usually, regardless of the details, these diets are only intended to last for a few days or weeks. Many such purported diets are fad diets which hold harmful premises to achieving weight loss.
So that we can fully understand the potential impact of these diets, let’s take a closer look at the above-mentioned practices. To begin with, the act of restricting your diet to any extreme degree is inherently flawed. Your body needs a wide variety of nutrients to survive and this includes proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Focusing all of your dietary attention on one food will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for your body to get everything it needs. The same is true if your diet asks you to totally avoid a necessary food group.
There’s also the issue of backlash and sustainability. As we mentioned, these diets are never designed to last more than a very brief period of time. What do you think is likely to happen once the diet is over and you can return to your normal routine. Statistically speaking, you’re extremely likely to gain the weight back. Not only that, but you may also gain more weight than you started with since you now have a tendency to binge on all of the food that you were missing while sticking to the crash diet.
Do they work, though? Of course they do. You are most definitely going to lose weight by following any diet that asks you to eat nothing but grapefruit for three days. This fad was proved with a startling impact by an experiment that has come to be known as “the Twinkie Diet.” For two months, nutrition professor Mark Haub ate nothing but prepackaged, processed, sugary junk food with a heavy emphasis on Twinkies. During that time, Haub limited his calorie intake to a mere 1,800 calories which was about half of his normal intake. At the end of the experiment, Haub had lost 27 pounds.
Clearly, then, any success you see from following a crash diet is the result of cutting back heavily on your calories. It is not, however, because of special any special properties of whatever food has been picked as the “fat burning powerhouse” of the week.
All that having been said, is there a better option?
Because of things like crash diets, the very word “diet” has become a bit of a dirty word in the health and fitness world. As we’ve seen, diets don’t always last and, when all is said and done, can leave you in a state is worse than where you started.
What should you do then?
The real goal here should be a complete lifestyle change. You should adapt a way of living – when it goes to both diet and exercise – that you enjoy and can sustain for years to come. Doing so will improve your health in the long run and help you avoid the risks of malnutrition and backlash that are built in to the whole crash diet system.
This type of lifestyle change may mean that you won’t see massive changes in your physique as quickly as you would like but, consider it an investment in your health. These things take time. Research has shown that steady, gradual weight loss is health weight loss that gives your body a chance to adapt to the changes. So, instead of resorting to any of the rapid weight loss plans that are out there, promising astonishing results, find a healthful way of eating that you can enjoy and maintain for the long term.