When striving to lose weight it is common, especially for new dieters, to embark on a crusade of self-starvation and meal skipping. There are always new crash diet fads hitting the market which are supposedly composed by experts which will help you lose 20 pounds in a week. Some of them may even achieve some startling results in the short term. In the long term however they are more likely to do more harm than good, and in most cases it won't be long before your weight loss dreams are in tatters.
Whilst it's true that to lose weight you need to be using more calories than you are consuming, missing meals or living off portions unsuitable for a hamster is not the way to achieve it. In fact it will probably make you put on weight and actually gain fat!
The reason for this is that your body is a very complex system and keeps you alive each and every day by performing thousands of functions which you are, in the main, unaware of. Your body is a finely tuned defence mechanism always on alert for attacks. If food / fuel is not being put into this machine regularly then alarms bells start to ring and the body prepares to defend itself.
The first line of defence for your body is the control of your metabolism and fat storage. As your body senses that not enough fuel is coming in it sends the signal to slow things down and to store fat - presumably not your plan when starting out on your diet? Your body does not know how long the famine might last so switches into survival mode and suddenly you find your body in the worst possible mode for weight loss.
When in survival mode your body uses less calories to sustain itself and maintain its current weight. Severe restriction of calories is a certain way to cause your metabolism to slow down to a crawl. If you’ve been crash dieting for a long time without exercising then the effects on your metabolism can be permanent.
Dieting in this way burns muscle and the less muscle mass you have, the less calories you burn and the slower your metabolism. As time goes on you need even less calories to sustain yourself and if you eat more calories than you need guess what? That's right - your body won't use them and instead will store them as fat. Your body is in a vicious cycle and it's a one you can only break by eating sensibly and regularly.
The problem with crash diets and many other fad diets is that in the
long run they are just too hard to follow. It may be a week, it may be a
month, but eventually the dieter will crack and the famine becomes a
feast. You get to a point where the hamster diet just won't cut it any
more and you decide you deserve a reward and pig out for a few days. Perhaps you will get back on the diet in a few days but by then the damage is done. Your body has been storing the excess calories from your treat and as you need less calories than you did before your 'diet' the effects are amplified. Say hello to jelly belly.
If you're serious about weight loss then don't even consider crash dieting and be very careful about the advice you take. To lose weight quickly and effectively
you need to change the way you think about weight loss and look at it from the long term.