It’s that time of the year when you’ve decided you want to start dieting for that holiday you have just booked; your wedding; or your friend’s wedding. And then you suddenly realise that it’s only 4-8 weeks away; and you decide you need to shift 1-2 stone, and so panic sets in. All your friends are full of advice about diets that worked for them, be that drinking calorie restricted shakes or just salad for every meal; and they probably suggest you exercise as much as is physically possible.
Through this you then convince yourself that going on holiday will be your treat, or after your wedding you will eat what you want. At that time you will pile on all the weight you might have lost and then some more and then you will come back to eating your rabbit food diet when you get back. You then come back from holiday heavier than before you started dieting and decide to diet again, this time for the long term.
Unfortunately, the worst way to lose weight is also the most common practice amongst individuals when panic station sets in, which is following extreme dietary habits along with extreme training programs over a long period. My advice to you is “DON’T DO THIS”.
I hear you asked why? Well here I will outline some of the consequences you can come up against.
Severely restricting your caloric intake will lead to major energy imbalances. This type of restriction can slow down brain functions, which means brain cells operate at sub optimal levels, impairing cognitive processes, such as memory recall, problem solving, and creative thinking. It can also affect your mood, leading to decreased feeling of well-being and increased tension, depression, anxiety, fatigue and increase in your overall stress levels. Stress then weakens your immune systems, which can then damage your digestive system and have a negative impact on your hormones.
During periods of severe energy deficits, either by restricted calories or by very high volumes of training, a females reproductive functions will be effected, oestrogen hormone production becomes imbalanced and release becomes very limited. Worryingly this can lead to reduced fertility in some women, as well as irregular periods, or the complete stopping of the menstrual cycle as well as a reduced sexual interest. And it’s not just ladies that are affected – a males testosterone levels will also take a hit when the body is stressed by low calorie intake.
In active individuals energy deficits can impair the resynthesise of muscle protein and liver glycogen, as well as the stimulation of protein synthesis. This means that the body doesn’t properly repair itself from the exercise you do, and is in a constant state of breakdown, you then begin to lose muscle which was meant to give you that tone look, and the less you eat, the more you lose. As you lose muscle, your body not only begins to take on that amorphous “skinny fat look,” your metabolism then slows down, disrupting your normal metabolic functions as you’re in an energy deficit. In some studies they found that when dietary intake in female fell below 50% of normal dietary intake in a little as four days their thyroid function was severely affected or cease to function properly.
All this then has on effect on you losing weight and fat in the long term – not good
Furthermore, your sleep pattern is disrupted which then impact on things such as your adrenal glands, your blood sugar balance, poor digestion (which limits the amount of food you breakdown and your cells then absorbs), your bone health decreases, and your risk of certain disease increases. On external view your skin will become loose and saggy leaving your body looking unhealthy due to your crash diet habits. As you can see, these are just some of the havoc a severe calorie deficit or any extreme amount of physical activity can cause on your once healthy body and mess up your chances of keeping your weight and fatloss sustainable and keeping it off long term. They key is to be slow and steady, over a long period, chances if you do it right the first time you wouldn’t need to do again, also it will be easy to manage in the long term and not mess up your body and health in the long term.
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