Do crash diets really work?

What are crash diets you might be thinking?

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Crash diets are where someone tries to quickly lose weight by cutting down on the amount of calories they eat. This doesn’t work for long-term weight loss, and most of them aren’t healthy. We’re talking very restrictive, short term diets with a set of rules which focus on a few foods and promise fast weight loss for little effort (Lyndel Costain 2000-2015).  Crash diets are different from medically monitored low calorie diets, which are nutritionally complete and require some monitoring from a health professional.

Crash diets

Many diets restrict your daily calorie intake and miss out entire food groups. Diet plans like this are not recommended for weight loss and can make you feel unwell.“Because they are nutritionally unbalanced, crash diets can lead to long-term poor health,” says dietitian Ursula Arens.

Depending on the type of diet, it may: slow down your metabolism, prevent you from getting important nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to work properly, reduce your intake of carbohydrates (such as pasta, bread and rice), which are an essential source of energy. It can also  increase your intake of protein and fat; too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Fast weight loss

When you decrease the amount you eat, your body uses up energy stored in the liver and muscles. However, most of this initial weight loss will be water and muscle. Your body’s response to dieting in this manner is to reduce the speed it burns off calories. This means you’re actually slowing down your ability to lose weight.

Weight gain and a healthy balanced diet

People who crash diet by missing out food or greatly cutting down on their daily calories tend to put weight back on quicker than those who follow a healthy, long-term diet plan. Most diets are not healthy, and crash dieting for a long time can be harmful. Some are so restrictive that you may not have the willpower to stick to them.

crash diet
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 The different types of crash diet you could find!

Extreme fat loss diet!

The Extreme Fat Loss Diet claims you can lose up to 25 pounds in 25 days. It uses 5-day cycles that you are supposed to repeat 5 times (reachself contributer, 2011) . The idea is that if you combine certain meals and exercises, you can lose a lot of fat. One of the focal points of this diet program is building and maintaining your muscle and metabolism, while burning the fat.

Cabbage soup diet!

The Cabbage Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet promises a 10-pound weight loss in a week. If you like cabbage, then this is the diet for you. On this diet you are allowed to eat all the cabbage soup you want, and a few selective other foods. This diet was said to come from the Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital in the USA – a hospital that doesn’t exist, says (Lyndel Costain 2000-2015). Cabbage is high in fiber, which helps to clean out the systems in your body.

Atkins diet!

It is pain-free, it is pleasurable and it promised to work. For many years it was the most popular diet in the world. Atkins suggested people obtain their calories from protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese and from eating fruit and vegetables (Buncombe, A. 2005). It was said that people should avoid processed foods as well as complex carbohydrates found in bread, potatoes and pasta.

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 It is therefore likely that commercial very low calorie diets become increasingly popular with their seductive promises of easy weight loss will (Fox, B. 2002).


Lyndel Costain 2000-2015 Crash Diets Under The Spotlight [online]

Fox, B. 2002, “Crash diet potomania”, The Lancet, vol. 359, no. 9310, pp. 942-942.

Buncombe, A. 2005, “The crash diet”, Independent, , pp. 22-23. [online]

Dietitian Ursula Arens, 2015, Why is gradual weight loss better than a crash diet? [online] [Page last reviewed: 03/02/2015]

By Reachself contributer on December 14, 2011,  Crash Diets [online]

Picture 1 – Lea Michele daily, Feb 24 2014 Young Children, Junk Food, and Mental Illness [online]

Picture 2 – Women’s health Encyclopedia, November 12, 2012,  How to Find Easy Crash Diets that Work. [online]

Picture 3 – Prasenjeet. Apr, 19, 2015 Danger of fad diets: a case study [online]

Picture 4 – Samuel on June 10, 2015,  Does the cabbage Soup Diet Work? [online]


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