The 5 Dangers of Restrictive Diets to Lose Weight

Overweight and obesity are clearly associated with today’s major chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that precisely people with extra pounds or those with these conditions are the most susceptible to severe cases of infection by the coronavirus.

For these reasons and others, losing weight is in the sights of a good part of the population. The problem is the means people take to reach that end. Knowing that the weight loss process depends on eating habits, not a few Brazilians go on restrictive diets with this objective.

The professionals at Nutritotal are well aware of the multitude of diets proposed to lose weight quickly and easily. There’s the soup diet, the points diet, Dr. Atkins, Dr. Dukan, Paleolithic, etc. All of them preach, in common, the restriction of calories and some food groups. They can even generate weight loss, but this occurs at the expense of unhealthy and unsustainable long-term metabolic processes.

To better understand the subject, we must keep in mind that losing weight is different from losing weight. Losing weight is reducing the numbers that the scale marks: you can get rid of fat, but also (or even more) of muscle and water. Weight loss itself is the reduction of body fat, something that has been proven to be good for health.

The 5 Dangers of Restrictive Diets to Lose Weight
The 5 Dangers of Restrictive Diets to Lose Weight

Weight loss depends on several factors: type of diet, physical activity, quality of sleep… Even the combination of stress with a few hours of rest influences this story.

The process of losing body fat tends to be longer and maintaining the new weight depends on adopting a healthy lifestyle for life. It is a very different concept from the one presented by radical regimes, with a fixed deadline to start and end.

But if restrictive diets even make you lose weight, why shouldn’t we follow them? It is because there are some gotchas and some health hazards. Let’s break down the top five risks below.

1. Weakness, hair loss, headache, and other perrengues

It is not uncommon to hear people who, when adhering to very restrictive diets, report indisposition, tiredness, weakness, headaches, hair loss, and weak nails. This happens due to insufficient intake of calories and nutrients – less than what is necessary for our body.

In this condition, the brain directs the body’s resources towards vital operations, such as the functioning of the heart, lungs, and liver. Hence, energy and nutrients are lacking for other areas and tissues, such as nails and hair. In this situation, the organism starts to emit warning signals, such as the feeling of fatigue itself.

2. Nutritional deficiencies

Radical diets often promote the exclusion or restriction of food groups. Carbohydrates are the main target. It turns out that when a person removes cereals, pasta, potatoes, cassava, corn, and company from the routine, he loses energy and micronutrients contained in these foods —among minerals and vitamins, especially those of the B complex.

No for nothing, it is common for the exclusion of carbohydrates to be associated with the symptoms mentioned above. And nutritional deficits are accentuated when fruits, vegetables, and vegetables are also cornered, as advocated by certain diets.

Another example of important embezzlement comes from the elimination (total or partial) of milk and dairy products. This can result in a lack of calcium, essential for maintaining bone resistance. In this context, it is worth mentioning that there are several sources of the same nutrient for the body and the support of a nutritionist helps to choose alternatives (or supplemental) if you have to restrict a food group.

3. Loss of muscle mass

We’ve seen that losing weight is completely different from losing weight. But most extreme diets provide a rapid weight loss which, with great calorie restriction, also results in muscle loss and, in some cases, dehydration.

Our muscle mass is fundamental to the performance of daily activities and consumes more energy than fatty tissue. When we are young, losing muscles may not compromise the quality of life, but as we age, not having a good muscle reserve has serious consequences. Muscle loss reduces autonomy, increases the risk of falls, and is related to a longer hospital stay.

4. Accordion effect

One of the main complaints of those who diet is weight gain. It usually appears when food intake returns to the pre-diet level. The accordion effect is the greatest proof that regimens do not work. If there is no permanent change of habit, the results are not sustained.

Those who advocate radical diets usually focus on rapid weight loss. But he hides that this is hardly definitive. By physiological adaptation, the body understands the restriction of calories and nutrients as aggression and triggers the sparing mode.

When the person interrupts the dietary restriction, he finds himself with a slower metabolism, and the body adapts to build a greater energy reserve as if preparing to face a new phase of restriction in the future. There, it is common to see that, after the regimen, the regain overcomes the weight loss previously achieved.

5. Eating disorders

There is evidence that resorting to restrictive diets increases the risk of developing disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. In a group of students, researchers observed that those who used apps to count food calories expressed higher levels of concern about dietary restriction and weight control, a very frequent situation in early eating disorders.

Therefore, it is clear that the use and abuse of restrictive regimes do not match health, physical and mental. In the long run, the only way to lose weight well is to follow a balanced dietary pattern, with customized caloric adjustments. And combine with this habit the practice of physical activity, stress management, good nights of sleep, and medical follow-up.