We all want to look good, to look slim. Some might be lucky to have high metabolisms while some
do not. Those that do not have high metabolisms watch what they eat consistently because they put
on weight easily. They might feel fatter than others and hence upset about their looks. They start
eating much less than usual to lose weight- not only cutting away excess sugar but also skipping
meals. Soon, they start seeing results – they have lost 3-5kg in a short span of 1-2 months. They
enjoy that new "slim" look of themselves, they feel good and confident … until they start letting go
and eat more due to strong cravings or stress. That’s when they piling on weight fast, gaining back
the weight they have lost and often even getting heavier than before. They become more upset with
themselves hence start on a more drastic weight loss diet. However, they start seeing less results
and put on excess weight faster than before. Eventually, they get trapped in this vicious cycle of
dieting, ultimately destroying their metabolisms.
And we know of many such people. This has personally affected the people around me, lowering
both their confidence and overall quality of life. Therefore I wish to address this issue, explaining
why most diets work initially but fail eventually, while providing sustainable solutions for losing
Why dieting works initially:
As said previously, some eat much less than before to lose weight. This is known as crash dieting,
where we severely restrict our caloric intake. Calories are required for organ function, breathing and
many other processes in our bodies. When we start on crash diets and restrict our calorie intake, we
are introducing a calorie deficit in our bodies.
Calorie Deficit = Calorie Input & Calorie Output.
Calorie Input: Calories we consume from eating
Calorie Output: Calories we use for exercise and metabolism(chemical changes in our body that
provide adequate energy for life processes)
With a Calorie Deficit, our bodies would react by catabolism – burning both muscles and fats for
energy, hence causing us to lose weight. This is what many of us do know so far about losing weight
Why crash dieting fails eventually:
However, although we lose weight in the short term, our bodies start adapting to the lower calorie
input. Our bodies enter "starvation mode", where mitochondrial efficiency increases, causing less
calories burned to produce the same amount of energy. This metabolic adaptations causes our
metabolism to decrease to adapt to the crash diet. Hence losing weight becomes harder while we
put on excess fat much easily than before. As mentioned previously, after gaining back the loss
weight, some start to have lower self-esteem and confidence. This is where they embark on another
cycle of crash dieting, ultimately destroying their metabolisms and having other adverse side effects
on their bodies.
Therefore, this shows that crash dieting works initially, but fails eventually.
The biggest takeaway here: knowing that crash dieting would not suit most of our long term goals of
healthy living, therefore please do not start such diets or let others do the same without knowing
the side effects of them.
The more sustainable solution to lose weight is consistent healthy eating and exercise. Healthy
eating consists of food choices with less saturated fats, salt and sugar while providing us with many
essential nutrients like protein, unsaturated fats and anti-oxidant. Exercising increases metabolism,
hence calorie output increases, allowing us to hit a calorie deficit without reducing our calorie input.
If you are interested to know more about effects of crash dieting on metabolism, you could read:
1. Biggest losers lose battle against the returning bulge: an article by Straits Times explaining
why most of the contestants of "Biggest Loser" TV show gained back most of their weight or
even more after the contest.
2. BioLayne – Is Your Weight Loss Diet Making You Fatter?: a video by Dr Layne Norton, PhD of
Nutritional Science explaining why low calorie diets (crash dieting) sets people up for rapid
weight gain, explaining about the drop in metabolism.
3. BioLayne – How to Lose Fat and Keep It Off: another video by Dr Layne Norton about
assessing your diet to lose fat and maintain that fat loss.
Please share this to those who have been affected by crash diets, thank you for reading this article.