The truth about crash diets
Dr Elizabeth Rogers looks at the dangers of crash diets and how to approach weight loss in a healthier way.
What is a crash diet?
A crash diet often makes unrealistic promises about how much weight you will lose over a short amount of time.
Although you may lose a few pounds at first, you won't sustain the weight loss in the long-term. As soon as you stop restricting your diet, chances are you'll put the weight straight back on.
Crash diet health risks
Restricting your diet can deplete your body of essential minerals and vitamins, leaving you feeling low, fatigued, and irritated. It also puts you at a greater risk of suffering with headaches, constipation, and anaemia.
There's also a higher risk of developing health issues, such as gallstones, nutritional deficiencies and eating disorders.
Genetics, age, gender, lifestyle, family habits and sleep can all affect your weight. If the amount of weight you lose is directly tied to your happiness, it may be time to speak to a healthcare professional about your eating habits.
1. Body positivity
2. Strong support network
3. Realistic targets
4. Improve your diet
5. Regular exercise
Step one: Think positively about your body
Losing excess weight gradually can be beneficial for your health, but it's important to consider where your desire to lose weight is coming from. Pressures from social media, magazines and TV to look a certain way may be a negative influence on the way you feel about how you look.
Having a positive body image generally means you feel comfortable with your appearance. Take note of your attitude towards your body and your weight.
For example, if you always filter and edit photos of yourself before posting them on social media, take a second to stop and reflect on why you feel the need to do that. Thinking honestly may help you to challenge negative thoughts and adjust them.
Step two: Find a strong support network
Draw on others for support and encouragement - you're more likely to stick to your healthier habits if you let your friends and family know.
You can also lean on the support of your doctor via a health check.
A health assessment is a great way for you to get a full picture of your current health, looking at your mind and body. It can also help kickstart your fitness and wellbeing journey.
Step three: Set a realistic target
It's important to lose weight safely. Generally, a weight loss of around 0.5 to 1kg (1 to 2lb) each week is a healthy, safe and realistic target to aim for.
Losing weight gradually and making sustainable changes to your lifestyle means you're more likely to maintain a healthy weight long term.
Step four: Aim for a healthy, balanced diet
Set yourself a plan based around improving your diet and introducing more physical activity into your routine.
The best way to lose weight is to reduce how many calories you're eating and get more active at the same time. Cut down on foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, reduce your alcohol intake and substitute fatty meats with leaner cuts or meat-alternatives such as beans and pulses.
Don't feel you have to cut out all the foods you enjoy from your new eating plan as you might end up only craving them more. Instead, make sure you eat them only now and again and in small amounts. The key is to reduce your calorie intake without depriving yourself entirely, to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Step five: Work regular exercise into your routine
Being more active in addition to making changes to your diet will give you the best chance of losing weight and keeping it off.
If you're feeling ready, this might be the perfect opportunity to try out a new sport or activity, for example tennis, swimming or a new gym class.
It's important to find an activity that you enjoy doing, as this means you're more likely to stick to it in the long run. Once you've found a workout you like, start building up the amount of exercise you do - aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week, for example brisk walking.
How Bupa can help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals
Anyone can book a health check – choose one that best suits your lifestyle and ambitions. You don’t even need Bupa health insurance.
Bupa GP appointments are only available to persons aged 18 years and older.
Bupa private GP services and health assessments are provided by Bupa Occupational Health Limited. Registered in England and Wales No. 631336. Registered office: 1 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HJ