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Are crash diets bad for our health?

Netdoctor (UK) logo Netdoctor (UK) 09/11/2017 Jenny Cook

Crash diets are ineffective and bad for our health, expert says © Getty Crash diets are ineffective and bad for our health, expert says Whether it's feeling confident in a swimsuit or fitting into that LBD in time for New Year's Eve, it seems people are forever looking for a quick way to lose weight - no matter what time of year it is. However, with party season just around the corner, Harley street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert warns that crash diets can be ineffective, unsustainable and down-right dangerous. 

"Losing weight too fast may give some quick results, but they can lead to a damaged body both mentally and physically," says Rhiannon, whose new book Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well will be released on December 28th. But how exactly do such sudden changes in eating patterns affect our bodies? And what alternative, safer weight loss techniques can we use instead? Speaking to The Independent, Rhiannon explains...

The problem

If a diet plan sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. The NHS states that a healthy amount of weight to lose per week is one or two ponds and, generally speaking, losing any more than that is going to be unsustainable.

"Through these [crash] diets, fast weight loss can happen and usually more than two pounds can be lost in the first week… However, a lot of this 'lost weight' is actually water weight, which is due to the glycogen that is burnt for energy as the restricted diet is not bringing in enough energy for the body, so it has to use its stores."

That's why you're more than likely going to end up putting the weight back on again – an occurrence that studies have proven to be true time and time again. 

The side effects

As stated above, rapid weight loss can also have a negative impact on your health – leading to nutritional deficiencies, muscle mass loss and a slower metabolism. Rhiannon says:

"When you decrease your calorie intake, nutritional deficiencies can arise as less food means that important nutrients such as mineral and vitamins are decreased... For example, a lack of Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus can lead to weak and brittle bones. Additionally, fatigue and anaemia can arise due to minimal iron and Vitamin B12 in the diet."

She adds that a reduction in muscle mass and a decrease in the thyroid hormone – both of which can happen as a result of rapid weight loss – can in turn lead to a slowed metabolism, which means your body starts to burn fewer calories throughout the day.

a woman wearing a blue dress © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK)

The healthy way to lose weight

The fact is that, when it comes to losing weight in a sustainable, healthy way, there are no shortcuts. Instead, we should be following a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regime in order to achieve slow and steady fat loss. Here are Rhiannon's top tips...

Reduce consumption of heavily processed and ready meals. These are typically rich in sugar and unhealthy fats, meaning you'll be hungry again shortly after consumption.

Eat a balanced diet, including lots of fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (instead of simple carbohydrates) and fewer processed sugary foods. Ensure each meal is made up of a balanced plate.

Remember to rest. Countless studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.

Mix up your workouts. Don't underestimate the benefits of adding some weights into a cardio-centric routine. Resistance training is great for growing muscle, and HIIT effectively burns a lot of calories.

For more information, visit our healthy eating collection.

[h/t The Independent]

Related: Fat Be Gone With This 10-Minute HIIT Workout (provided by Popsugar)

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