Crash dieting can actually result in more belly fat and less muscle  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock
New Delhi: Carrying excess weight, especially around the belly, increases your risk of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression, etc. Perhaps, research has proven that added fats are more than a little extra cushion but they are actually ‘toxic factories’. Fortunately, there are many ways to lose those extra pounds and reduce your risk of health problems as well as get fitter and happier.
But to get rid of that extra flab around your belly, it’s important that you choose the best diet and fitness plans that will help you lose weight in a healthy manner. While many people, particularly women, tend to follow a crash diet to shed the pounds fast, rapid weight loss is not sustainable as you’ll almost positively end up regaining everything you lost. A new study suggested that crash dieting can actually result in more belly fat and less muscle.
How crash diets can cause belly fat
For the study, researchers from Georgetown University in the US examined female rats who were given 60 per cent less calorie in their diets. This is roughly comparable to reducing from a 2,000-calorie daily diet to an 800-calorie diet in humans. They found that the extremely reduced calories diet lowered body weight and caused cycling – similar to a menstrual cycle – to temporarily stop within three days. The findings revealed that the diet also led to a decrease in a number of metabolic factors and functions, including body weight, blood volume, blood pressure, heart rate and kidney function. Read – Weight loss diet: How to supercharge your weight loss and post-workout snacks for burning belly fat
However, three months after the diet ended, the animals were found to have higher accumulation of abdominal fat compared to animals that did not follow the calorie restricted diet. Also, returning to typical eating patterns quickly restored the metabolic functions.
“Even more troubling was the finding that angiotensin II — a hormone in the body — was more potent at increasing blood pressure in the rats that were on the reduced-calorie diet,” said Aline de Souza, a post doctoral student from the varsity.
The study also suggested that although the rats’ blood pressure levels in recovery remained normal, higher-than-normal blood pressure responses to angiotensin II may raise the risk of developing high blood pressure. Hence, such changes in body composition, along with the increase in belly fat, may cause long-term health risks for people who have previously crash dieted. The researchers presented their findings at The Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Sex-Specific Implications for Physiology conference in Tennessee, US.
Yo-yo dieting can cause heart attack , stroke
Meanwhile, a Korean study suggested that people with fluctuations in their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar may be more likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those with stable measurements. This also indicates that ‘yo-yo dieting’ can have serious impact on a person’s health. The study stressed that people should set achievable weight loss goals that would help them to maintain a lower weight over time and avoid yo-yo dieting. Read – Weight loss and high-carb diet: How to lose weight and slim down your tummy with high-carb veggies
Simple tips for healthy, long-term weight loss
Yo-yo dieting, also known as ‘weight cycling’, is a short-term changes in eating and activity. Hence, it gives you only short-term benefits. Instead, the following tips can help you lose weight healthily and keep it off forever
- Eat healthy foods – such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, tree nuts (not peanuts), etc.
- Avoid junk foods that are packed with calories – such as potato chips and sugary beverages.
- Limit intake of starchy foods – for instance, using starchy foods like potatoes in moderation.
- Include exercise in your daily routine – opting for some activity that you enjoy doing can enable you to stay active.
- Limiting screen time: Make sure that you limit your screen time, such as watching TV. Also, try to exercise while you watch.
- Get enough sleep – try to sleep for 7 to 8 hours each night.
The bottom line is, making simple lifestyle changes and sticking to them can help you lose weight and improve overall health in the long run.