How Extreme Dieting Is Neither Sustainable nor Healthy

Extreme diet with tiny portion does not lead to healthy weight loss according to weight loss experts at Surgical Association of Mobile

While a healthy body mass index increases the probability of being healthy, not all weight loss plans equal increased fitness. In other words, if a diet plan is too extreme and does not provide the body with its necessary nutrients, it can have a decidedly negative effect on your body and health instead of improving your overall fitness.

A common problem deriving from extreme diets is dehydration. Diet plans based on a drastic reduction in calories, even more so if significantly limiting carbohydrates, force our bodies to use glycogen as their first energy source.  Glycogen is a carbohydrate stored in our muscles and liver and binds 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen.

Consequently, when we use up our glycogen storage, we lose water. Many drastic diets that promote quick weight loss also depend on the fact the person is not losing fat but becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to severe complications particularly in some at higher risk (children, the elderly, people with some chronic health conditions, etc.). Weight loss resultant from dehydration also explains why short, drastic diets often don’t offer a lasting effect.

The bottom line? Nutritionally unbalanced diets will lead to nutritional deficiencies.

An extreme diet that is poor in carbohydrates will also lead to inadequate blood sugar levels causing tiredness and reduced brain function. At its very essence, our brain depends on glucose for its energy needs, and in glucose-depleted situations, the brain must revert to alternative energy sources such as ketones.

Other diets based essentially on fruits, smoothies, and juices can cause frequent blood sugar spikes throughout the day since the glycemic index of the meals is more significant than if it were more balanced with proteins and fats.

Extreme diets also lead to a more significant loss of lean mass. When losing weight gradually, the body loses more weight from fat than from muscle. This, however, is not true when weight loss is drastic. In this case, the body can lose up to three times more lean muscle mass than when dieting more appropriately.

The loss of muscle mass results in a decrease in basal metabolism – the rate at which the body uses calories at rest, even when we sleep. The loss of muscle mass during inappropriate dieting is one of the mechanisms behind the so-called yo-yo dieting effect, which causes many people to put even more weight on after a diet than when they first started.

Extreme diet plans that call for a substantial decrease in the volume of food ingested and a subsequent reduction in fiber intake can cause many bowel issues including persistent constipation. Dehydration can also add to these factors. Constipation can have many adverse effects on health beyond discomfort including the reabsorption of toxins in the colon and facilitating the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria in the intestine.

If a drastic diet plan is followed for a more extended period, the consequence can involve macro or micronutrient deficiencies. The deficiencies depend on the specific diet plan but can often include insufficient consumption of proteins, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and magnesium.

Finally, but very importantly, extreme dieting can have a significant detrimental effect on mood and mental health. Our bodies need nutrients to produce the hormones and neurotransmitters involved in stabilizing our mood and promoting good mental health. Numerous studies show the role of nutrition in the gut-brain axis and the beneficial effect a healthy diet can have in preventing common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

For pre- and post-bariatric patients alike, the need to improve your health through nutrition cannot be overstated. Make sure to speak to your doctor or a registered dietician and follow the appropriate diet plan for your specific long-term health needs.

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