Crash Dieting


I recently returned from a week long vacation where I ate and drank whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. While it made for a free-spirited break from real life, upon returning home, I find my body feels sluggish and my jeans are a bit tighter than I would prefer. Yikes!

The internet offers no shortage of ways to drop a few pounds fast, but if I don’t return to my daily healthy lifestyle, I know those pounds will creep right back (and probably bring a few friends). Further, so-called “Crash Dieting” (aka Fad Dieting, Yo-Yo Dieting) carries its own host of problems, including:

  • Slowed metabolism
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cardiac stress

In particular, shortages of essential vitamins and nutrients to body can cause tremendous stress, potentially carrying long-term, damaging results. When your body doesn’t get what it needs from food, it will turn inward to find it, potentially pulling nutrients from bones and tissue.

Is it worth it?

Even if you commit to a crash diet for no more than a week or two, there are very few (if any) advantages gained. Namely, the weight you may lose is predominantly water, and will very likely reappear once you return to your normal diet. More importantly, a crash diet throws your body’s metabolism into shock. When you severely restrict your calories and nutrients, your body adapts to functioning on the lesser amounts. When you do return to your normal diet, your body will still be accustomed to functioning on less, typically resulting in weight gain. While your body will eventually adapt back to functioning with more food, it could take weeks or months of weight gain before everything balances.

The Bottom Line

Changing your eating habits is still the number one way to manage your weight, but slow and steady wins this race. Committing to healthy lifestyle choices, specifically a balanced diet and exercise, will ultimately yield greater returns in the long run. Consider losing and maintaining weight is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise – you can have one without the other, but they work best together.

If you’re ready to take a closer look at your nutrition and exercise habits, there are several great online tools to help you track what you eat and how often you move. Take a week or two and start logging using one of these tools. Before too long, you’ll be able to identify which foods are undermining you, and areas for improvement.


Jennifer is a recreational runner living in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. She writes about running for health and fitnessĀ at Terrapin Crossing.

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Jennifer Joseph is a recreational runner living in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. She writes about running for health and fitness at


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