Do crash diets work?

Crash diets are advertised as the only real solution that works for quick weight loss. If you’re going to a wedding or social gathering, you need to look your best. These diets promise to get you into shape in a matter of days so you can look good without worrying about healthy weight loss limits.

Many crash diets promote special ‘detox’ drinks or state that, by only allowing 500 calories to go into your body per day you will loose all the weight you want. The question is, how can these diets not work? They will result in very quick weight loss, one of the problems is that as soon as you start picking up your old habits again the weight will come back after a few days. The weight loss achieved from crash dieting is temporary. Another problem is that the amount of weight lost on a crash diet is limited. The rules are too strict to be able to sustain over a long period of time, and as soon as you stop  you will gain all of the weight back and even more than what you started with, this is sometimes referred to as the Yo-yo effect.


Crash diets are essentially very restrictive meal plans all of which are unsustainable for long periods of time these diets always come with an end date. Crash diets can also cause serious harm to your body. When you limit calories so drastically, your body goes into it’s starvation mode which causes your metabolic rate to plummet. Your body isn’t sure when it’s going to receive nutrients again, so it does everything it can do to conserve energy. If you’re being very restrictive with calories, you’re not just burning your fat as fuel, you’re going to burn lean tissue, as well. This is mostly muscle. In the first few weeks of your crash diet, about half of the fuel you’re burning comes from fat stores, while the other half comes from lean tissue mass.


During the diet your body will not be able to get the key nutrients that it needs for optimal health. If long term deficiencies persist, a number of things can occur, including leaching minerals from your bones, leading to osteoporosis and fractures or the leaching of iron from the blood, leading to anemia. Low calorie diets can also lead to a deficiency in particular nutrients, for example, sodium and potassium. Electrolytes are used in many different systems, including, nerve and muscle function, and also play an important role in regulating heart beats. Low enough levels of sodium and potassium and other electrolytes can lead to increased risk of heart attack and other severe problems.


References (2017). Why A Crash Diet Isn’t A Healthy Solution / Nutrition / Healthy Eating. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].

Precision Nutrition. (2017). Can Eating Too Little Actually Damage Your Metabolism? Exploring the truths and fallacies of ‘metabolic damage’.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].

Straight Health. (2017). Do crash diets work?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].

Doucet E, et al. Evidence for the existence of adaptive thermogenesis during weight loss. Br J Nutr. 2001 Jun;85(6):715-23.

Hall KD, et al. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):826-37.

Hall KD, Jordan PN. Modeling weight-loss maintenance to help prevent body weight regain. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2008 Dec 1;88(6):1495-503.

Levine JA, et al. Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity. Am J Clin Nutr. December 2000 72(6): 1451-1454.


Categories Food

1 thought on “Do crash diets work?

  1. Well said 👍🏼


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