What is a Crash Diet?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
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  • Last Modified Date: 04 March 2020
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In an effort to lose weight, some people will try anything, including ill-advised weight loss methods like crash dieting. A crash diet is a diet that severely restricts caloric intake. In fact, these diets often restrict caloric intake so much that the dieter is bordering on starvation. In return for practically starving themselves, dieters are promised dramatic weight loss in just days or weeks. For example, a crash diet may offer dieters the chance to lose 10 to 20 pounds in just five to seven days and even more in the weeks to come.

There's a lot to worry about with crash dieting, as it deprives a person of the nutrients and calories she needs for optimum health and survival. Many people think of calories negatively, but a person actually needs a certain number of calories to maintain basic bodily functions, such as breathing. When a person consumes too few calories because of a diet, she may actually put her health at serious risk. Many diets require a person to consume fewer than 1200 calories per day, and some even go as low as 700 or 800 calories daily. For the average person, this is simply not enough calories.


A person on a crash diet may experience symptoms related to the very low caloric intake. For example, she may experience headaches, dizziness, and irritability; she may feel nauseous and have diarrhea as well. Some people have gas pains while others may actually gain weight on this kind of diet. With continued dieting, a person may develop deficiencies in vital nutrients, and her organs may begin to show signs of strain; this is particularly true of her kidneys and liver. Her body may even begin to burn muscle and other vital tissues, and she may put herself at risk for osteoporosis.

Besides the health risks involved with crash dieting, a person may experience other problems with this type of diet. Often, the initial weight loss is partially water weight. As time goes by, she may hope to lose more, but her weight loss may level off or stop altogether. Often, this is because the body begins to believe that it is starving and works to store any extra calories that are not burned each day.

There are better ways to lose weight besides dangerous dieting. Most experts recommend eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as water. They also recommend exercising for about 30 to 45 minutes each day, with a doctor's approval, and limiting sweets, fats, and oils. Besides that, reducing calories by safe levels helps to speed weight loss along, and a doctor should be able to recommend a safe amount of calorie reduction. Alternatively, many people turn to weight loss calculators on the Internet to figure out how many calories they need per day and how many they can safely cut to achieve their goal weight loss.


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Post 12

I lost a lot of weight eating 1,500 calories a day regardless of whether I exercised or not. It came off slowly as well (one pound a week). If I am going out for a meal and some drinks, I take a day off counting my calories. I never consume fewer than 1,200 in one day and try to eat a variety of foods. I also squat 100 to 150 squats and do lunges on a daily basis. I manage to maintain a healthy 9 stone 6 pounds, which looks good on my 5 foot 6 frame.

Post 10

I was on a crash diet last year for about two months. I only ate 800 calories a day, sometimes less. I would workout on a treadmill as well. I lost a lot of weight! The problem was that I felt weak all the time and tired. The biggest problem came about three or four months after my crash diet. I started to lose my hair. I am a female so this was devastating. I never developed any bold spots and my hair never fell out completely. I just lost a lot of hair and it became very thin and it was noticeable. I couldn't wear my hair down because it was so thin.

Now, a year later, it has

slowly stopped falling out as much but I'm waiting for it to hopefully become thick and full again. I am now also extremely overweight because I was so scared that my hair started to fall out I began to eat everything to "try to make up" for the crash diet. I feel stupid and ashamed. It was my fault and I learned a hard lesson.
Post 9

I am 21 and 5'4. My weight was 107 three months back and now it is 80 kg. I am also on a crash diet and it includes just fruits and only a bit of junk when I feel out of limit cravings. Well, I wanted to ask anon147060 since you also lost 35 kg, well I am not having problems like you mentioned, although I sometimes just feel tired after walking on the treadmill. My hb used to be 10 and now it's 13. Well, that's a good thing. I want to reach my goal -- that is 65 kg -- and then I will stop my diet. I just want to know, after you stopped your diet, what did you

eat? I mean you said you gained only 6 kg. Well I can happily gain 5-7 kg. I just want that it should not increase more. I'm ready to change my eating habbits and exercise to mantain the weight. I just want to know that what should I eat after stopping my diet so that it doesn't increase much?
Post 7

there are lots of crash diets out there and I have had some success with the turbo south beach diet and a few others. But long term results have to be accompanied by a change in lifestyle. Otherwise, you will just be searching for the next crash diet.

Post 6

Judging by the lack of results (an increasing number of people obese) none of the books or diets do any good. The point about water loss is a good one. Starvation will lead to a loss of body water and that really encourages the dieter. However, it is a one time loss and thereafter any loss will be flesh and not water and it's just a matter of arithmetic how much that will be.

It takes 3500 calories extra to gain a pound of weight and it takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound. Walking a mile by a 150 pound person uses 100 calories. while one slice of buttered bread puts in 100 calories.

Not that

it can't be done, but it is a lot harder than most people realize until they try it.

As for me, my fat friends say my lean body is due to heredity, temperament and metabolism and that I do not deserve any credit for weighing 155 at five eleven at age 89. --Donald B.

Post 5

I tried a crash diet eleven months back and lost 35 kilos. out of 128 kilos but I developed high uric acids levels in my blood and now I have got cataract (the opacity of the eye lenses both sides) and muscle weakness of both arms (biceps and triceps).

I have body aches during and after 30 minutes on the treadmill, so ultimately I stopped the crash diet and put myself on a simple dietary regimen that is no salt, no carbohydrates, no red meat, no animal fats and no Softees. Now my body is pleased with me after putting up 06 kilos back, but my muscles are yet not happy with me.

I take organic chicks, veggies (particularly cabbages, cauliflower, raw scallions and all veges), eggs (2 daily), tuna, salmon, trout, jordans, 20 green chillies, garlic, curcumine, ginger in cooking (olive oil) and vinegar and plenty of green tea with 1/2 lemon in each cup.

Post 4

I Suggest people speak with registered nutrition/dietitians about weight loss. M.D.s often have very little training in this area.

Post 3

To lose weight, try a "Paleo" cave man diet. Very healthy.

Post 2

Icecream17- I agree with you. I remember a while back Oprah tried a liquid diet and she said that she was thin for like a day and immediately gained the weight back.

I appreciate her honesty with her struggles with crash diets and dieting in general. It makes you feel like you are not alone in your weight loss battle.

Post 1

Great article- I just want to add that liquid diets are among the worst crash diets out there.

Many people in an effort to lose weight go to an extreme of a liquid diet where they are usually given only about 700 calories a day is not only ineffective but dangerous as well.

These diets can not be sustained for a long period of time and the rapid weight loss is followed by an even faster weight gain which is really detrimental to the heart.

In addition, this form of dieting lowers the metabolism over time and actually causes weight gain.

It also devastates the person trying to lose weight because they end up in a worse situation than when they started.

But in reality it was not their fault, these types of diets make people destined to fail.

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