Crash Diets

I was trying to lose some weight and I found this grapefruit juice fad diet in one of those weight loss magazines. The recipe was very straight forward: have one grapefruit for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Repeat for three days and you will lose 10 pounds. Sounded easy enough to do. So I tried it.

The first day was okay. Then the second day got harder because I was hungry. On the third day, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. The fourth day, I guess I was too hungry so I overate. I ate everything in sight. I ate food that I didn’t like that much.

Conclusion of my crash diet attempt to lose weight: I gained six pounds. It sucked. All these torture for nothing. Or should I say — for more baggage!

Then as I learned later, the strong psychological effect of hunger due to food deprivation will cause you to eat anything. In addition, the more crash diets you do, the harder it is to lose weight in the long run. The reason is this: the human body learns to store fat if it feels the next meal is threatened. This is our evolutionary progression to preserve human lives in case of famine (our ancestors in the Stone Age didn’t have supermarkets that open 24-7). Once the body thinks it is in starvation mode (i.e. you skipped a meal here and there or attempt to crash diet as I did before), it will reduce its metabolic rate to burn less calories and store more fat in case there is a shortage of food.

The more you diet, the more you train your body to store fat. Later, when you started eating normal again, the body will try to store all the food as fat. This is what happens to yo-yo dieters (repeated cycles of weight loss and regain). It becomes harder and harder to lose weight each time because of decreased metabolism while dieting and increased percentage of body fat. What’s worse, the weight gain is more each time.

That’s why we should focus on eating healthy and exercise regularly, instead of losing weight by crash dieting.

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