Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is There Such Thing as a Healthy Crash Diet?

When you picture a crash diet what comes to mind? For me it is a lack of calories, a rumbling stomach, a headache and an eventual binge session. There are serious health risks such as dehydration, starvation, damage to immune system and risk of heart disease that comes along with crash diets. To me, this does not sound particularly healthy. The goal of a crash diet is to achieve maximum weight loss in a short period of time, generally for a specific event such as a wedding or high school reunion. If this is something you are trying to achieve there are ways that you can do it in the healthiest way possible.

If you are looking to start a healthy crash diet there is one piece of advice that you should follow. Make sure the diet has actual food items in it. By definition a crash diet is a diet that has less than 1, 200 calories consumed per day. There are lots of crash diets that include liquids only. For example, the Master Cleanse does not include food; it is just a strange combination of lemon juice, cayenne peppers, maple syrup, water and laxatives. This is obviously difficult to stick to and lacks healthy food options. Weight loss you achieve will be from dehydration (through laxative use) and severe caloric restriction. Opt for a diet that includes food in it, and healthy choices you can stick to. For this reason I suggest making your own crash diet. This way you can control what you eat and when you eat it.

By planning on when and what you eat and looking into the calorie and fat content of these options you can create your own crash diet that involves food and not complete starvation. You need to restrict your calorie intake to about 1, 200 calories and limit your carbohydrate and fat intake. Make sure your choices include all of the food groups (with minimal consumption of grains). Increase your reliance on lean protein sources such as legumes and poultry and on vegetables such as broccoli, celery and spinach. Dark green vegetables are generally low in carbohydrates and high in nutritional content.

A sample day could look like this:

8:00am Breakfast
Bowl of wholegrain cereal with soy milk (240 calories)
Coffee with soy milk (10 calories)
Total 250 calories

10:30am Snack
Banana (100 calories)
Total 100 calories

1:45pm Lunch
Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich with Low Fat Mayonnaise (260 calories)
Orange Juice (100 calories)
Total 360 calories

4:30pm Snack
Small Bag of Almonds, about 18 grams (100 calories)
Total 100 calories

8:00pm Dinner
Baked Salmon with Steamed Broccoli & Garlic (350 calories)
Cup of Fresh Blueberries (120 calories)
Total 470 calories

Day 1 Total = 1280 calories

Any weight loss success achieved on a crash diet will be from the limitation of calories and will only be maintained if you continue to limit your calorie intake Crash diets deprive your body of essential nutrients. They weaken your immune system, increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations and cardiac stress. If you do one crash diet you may not hurt your heart but if you crash diet repeatedly you can increase your risk of heart attacks. Instead of yo-yo crash dieting you should keep the weight off by continuing to exercise and make healthy food choices. No healthy crash diet should be sustained for a long period of time and as with all diet and exercise programs you should contact your doctor before beginning.