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.