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No shortcuts to fitness

Crash diets can do more harm than good, say experts
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST

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The ketogenic diet, General Motors diet, Paleo diet, Dukan diet, or a simple low-carb diet, are some popular crash diets undertaken for achieving rapid results. But applying quick-fixes to a deep-rooted and long-term problem is never a good idea. These diets, if not followed properly, can cause more damage than good to one’s system. While lack of body confidence and body-shaming from are issues in themselves, falling back to amateur opinions and dilettante experts is a greater concern.

Metrolife spoke to experts to understand the ills of getting into a crash diet.

Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical dietician, says “When you try to look for quick results, you can identify that it is a fat diet. You haven’t gained weight overnight, so trying to lose weight, say 15 kg in a month, is bizarre.” she says. Apart from identifying if it is a fad diet, one must also pay attention as to if it is very different from your daily routine. “Diets that call for an only lentils day or only fruits day is problematic, as the diet is imbalanced. One just loses water, and not fat, from the body with such plans,” she adds.

Keertana Ramu, a nutritionist and a dietician cites the example of the GM diet. “In this diet, there is one day when one is supposed to eat only tomatoes. When the body is devoid of all other very basic and very important nutrients, the body’s immune system is definitely going down,” she says.

When people starve for long hours they lose their muscle. When people shift to their regular diet, the relapse is bad and people end up gaining more weight. People eventually get into a cycle of getting on and off of a diet, which is known as the ‘Yo-Yo syndrome’. “This makes the body more vulnerable and affects gut-health severely. The body loses its regular rhythm to metabolise things,” adds Priyanka.

Keertana says that if these diets are followed without any expert advice, people often start experiencing symptoms like hair-fall, lethargy, brittle nails, and start developing digestive issues such as constipation and irregular bowel movements. “The only way to lose weight is by following a calorie deficit diet. This means that calorie intake should be less than how many calories one is spending. One has to exercise and eat right simultaneously,” she adds.

It has been observed that such stringent diets can have a toll on people’s mental health, especially when not followed properly. Fatigue and lethargy can make people cranky and groggy because they do not eat as much as they generally do.

Keertana also tells Metrolife that many people get demotivated if they are not losing weight due to body image issues. “This disappointment leads to binging and they end up gaining more weight,” she says.

When you are following a diet, it a lifestyle change that you are committing to. So it should not be done only to shed those few pounds. “If you want to become fit, you should make lifestyle changes that last for a longer period of time. You will see long-term results,” adds Keertana.

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Published 27 February 2021, 05:26 IST

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