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Unknown Dangers Of Extreme Diets!

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Extreme diets are dangerous. The current societal environment is marked with a different perception of beauty, which can largely be attributed to advertisements and the media portraying an ”ideal” body type, thereby forcing vulnerable youngsters to fit into a ‘society approved mould.

Losing weight and attaining an ideal body type features prominently on most people’s to-do list, then be it a New Year’s resolution, planning a big event or holidays. A healthy weight is  crucial  for longevity, but unfortunately, the diet industry thrives on people’s desire to lose weight as quickly as they can – without putting in the work.

Extreme dieting side effects

What we fail to realize is that  there aren’t any shortcuts and that healthy weight loss can only be achieved through a balanced diet and exercise regime.

Extreme Diets: The Easy Way Out?

In the quest to lose weight quickly and easily, most people decide to go on an extreme diet. Extreme dieting involves reducing the calorie intake to lose a lot of weight in a short period, essentially pushing the body beyond its capabilities. As a general guide, men need around 2500 calories a day, and women need about 2000 calories a day depending on their age, and activity level. People suffering from obesity may be recommended a calorie-controlled diet to get to a healthy weight, but this would be under a doctor’s approval, and supervision and many dieticians only recommend losing one or two pounds a week. While extreme dieting may have the desired effect, there are health dangers associated with such a dangerous lack of calories. If you are considering an extreme diet, you should ensure that you have a full understanding of the health risks and side effects of cutting calories and restricting your food choices.

In my experience and research, I advise against extreme dieting, especially for young individuals. In a study, it was found that self-led extreme dieting actually led to more weight gain over time. Instead, focus on adopting balanced and healthy eating habits to maintain a healthy weight in the long term.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

The Dangers of Extreme Dieting

Extreme diets  yield extreme results – but not always in the way you would like. They are more likely to make you feel sluggish, moody, nauseous and achy. Plus, in the long term, they can set you up for metabolism problems, rebound weight gain and life-threatening medical conditions. The following is a breakdown of the changes that happen in your body when you boycott carbs, drink every meal or deprive your body of the calories it needs.


The immediate ”success” on a crash diet is just an illusion, as any pounds which are lost, are likely come from water rather than fat. When on a restricted-calorie or carb intake, the first source of energy the body burns, long before fat – is glycogen which is a form of carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscles and attached to every gram is water. Symptoms of dehydration include a headache, fatigue, and dizziness.

Changes in Blood Sugar Levels

Since extreme diets are associated with yo-yoing or gaining back all of the weight that was lost on a diet, they contribute to insulin resistance and  potentially Type 2 diabetes, as per a 2013 Diabetes study.

Muscles Break Down

Malnutrition and extreme diets are deeply connected. Malnutrition can lead to atrophy of muscles throughout the body, leading to muscles wasting. If weight loss is extremely fast, the muscles of the heart can atrophy. Extreme low-calorie liquid diets, for instance, have been linked to ventricular arrhythmias and death. A weakened heart is a serious problem that could cause a threat to life

Metabolism Slows

When one is following extreme diets, the body experiences a calorie deficit and energy levels drop, metabolism will naturally slow to conserve energy. This can stall weight loss and lead to the loss of muscle tone.

Malnutrition Begins

In the case of extreme diets, severe diet restriction leads to many nutrient deficiencies such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin A, D, E, & K) and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sodium, etc. These are essential food groups, and their absence in the diet can be the cause of numerous deficiency diseases. Abruptly resuming a regular diet can cause the phosphorus, magnesium and potassium levels to drop and lead to heart failure.

Brain Suffers

According to research published in The Journal of Neuroscience, extreme diets or any crash diet, even if it contains an adequate supply of carbohydrates, increases the brain’s levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, making the brain more susceptible to stress, increasing the risk of depression and predisposing you to future binge-eating behaviours.

Based on what I’ve seen in adults, chronic dieting can lead to various symptoms such as constantly thinking about food, feeling easily distracted and irritable, experiencing fatigue, and having a tendency to overeat or even binge eat. The mechanism behind this is that restrictive dieting can put the body in a state of deprivation, leading to increased cravings and a heightened focus on food.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Weight Loss with Extreme Diets or the Healthy Way?

The best way to lose weight and sustain weight loss is to make a lifestyle change in your eating and exercising habits.

Eating healthy food, including protein and carbohydrates as well as lots of fruit and vegetables, while limiting saturated fat and sugar intake is the best ‘diet’ to lose weight safely. A healthy diet also needs to be subsidized with physical activity to reach health goals.

If you are concerned about your weight or eating habits or need advice on how to safely diet and lose weight, get in touch with a doctor.

Also Read: Pegan Diet: A Comprehensive Guide on Its Advantages and Challenges

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.



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