Do you have the goal to lose a lot of weight quickly? When looking for the right method, you have probably come across the term crash diet . Fast weight loss is often summarized under this name.
Losing weight quickly is often said to have some very negative effects. From the yo-yo effect to bad moods to hormonal damage, such diets become many. But how harmful is such a so-called crash diet really? That’s what I want to deal with in this article.
In fact, fast weight loss diets can have some drawbacks that you should be aware of. However, there are actually some arguments in favor of such fast diets. Before you make a decision about what is right for you in which situation, you should know the most important factors.
This article is divided into the following sections:
- What a crash diet actually is
- Where the disadvantages of crash diets lie
- The benefits of crash diets
- What to look out for in a crash diet
- What experiences have I made with crash diets
At the end of the day, you should know the key pros and cons of fast diets and understand why their reputation is so bad. You should also know what you should definitely pay attention to if you should decide on such a diet.
What actually makes a crash diet a crash diet?
So that we can deal with whether or how bad / harmful a crash diet really is, we should first clarify what constitutes a crash diet.
As a rule, diets with a very high calorie deficit and a short duration of use of a few weeks are referred to as crash diets. These are all diet forms that aim to make the user lose as much weight as possible in a relatively short time. In doing so, they do not adhere to the frequent recommendation of a maximum calorie deficit of 20%.
The name contains two statements: On the one hand, it says that a lot (weight loss) can be possible very quickly. On the other hand, an important element is that a crash (often) occurs after such a diet.
For this reason I don’t particularly like the name crash diet and would find a more neutral term, such as Turbo diet significantly better. But more on that later …
What are the disadvantages of crash diets
You will quickly find out some disadvantages of crash diets as soon as you tell someone that you are planning a crash diet. I would like to briefly address the most common and most important arguments against diets with a very high calorie deficit in this section.
Loss of muscle mass
When your body is not getting enough nutrients, it tries to save energy. Muscle mass is not absolutely necessary and the body tends to break down what is not needed regularly. The higher the deficit, the greater the risk of loss.
A sufficient supply of the required nutrients and regular strength training contribute to maximizing muscle maintenance even in a crash diet.
Also remember that most of the muscle mass you lose on a diet (if used correctly) is just water.
Risk of a crash after the end of the diet
A decisive reason for the name crash diet is surely the experience that such diet forms often lead to the eponymous crash sooner or later. That is the moment when the diet is interrupted or when it is scheduled to end. The danger here is of overdoing it with the food again and of eating too many bad foods.
This can lead to a severe yo-yo effect. It has happened to many people that a few weeks after the crash diet they weighed more than before.
This danger is very real, but it can also be minimized with the right approach. In particular, you should deal with building habits and dealing with food cravings .
Above all, you should also deal with what comes after the diet, so that you do not fall back fully into old eating patterns.
A crash diet requires an incredible amount of willpower
The more you abstain from dieting, the harder it is to convince your body to let it go for more than a few days. With a high calorie deficit, it becomes harder every day to keep your weaker self in check .
Here, too, you can use a few simple means (such as one or the other Protein Shake with Micellar Casein or a well-timed Cheat Day ) Improve your chances and reduce your need for willpower. This increases the chances that you will stick to your crash diet.
Hormonal impairment / damage
It is also often claimed that crash diets can disrupt the hormonal balance and even cause lasting damage. However, this plays a role (as with muscle loss) above all if you have a significant deficiency in essential nutrients or if you maintain the large calorie deficit over a very long period of time.
In addition, when your body reaches a certain body fat percentage, it starts to open up the heavy artillery because it wants to maintain a certain safety buffer. However, for most people this only plays a role if the body fat percentage is less than 10% (less than 20% for women).
Even if your crash diet should have hormonal disorders, these will usually not damage your hormone balance in the long term. You don’t have to worry about that until you maintain a very high deficit over a long period of time.
Fatigue and bad mood
Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and bad mood are side effects that occur with most diets. These are all reactions of the body to a change with which it does not agree. With crash diets, these effects are often very pronounced. This is particularly evident at the beginning of a diet.
Good planning of your diet to minimize hunger and the targeted use of sensible supplements can help you here.
Advantages of a crash diet
As you can see, there are quite a few disadvantages to crash diets. Most are not as bad as you might think at first if you follow a few basic rules.
But not only that: In addition to the possible disadvantages of a crash diet, there are also a few advantages or arguments in favor of such a fast diet.
Sometimes it just has to be quick
An upcoming competition, a vacation, a long distance run, an event where a piece of clothing should fit … there are many reasons why you want to lose some weight quickly. Always referring to slow weight loss is not very effective.
With a crash, weight losses of several kilograms are possible in a week. That can be very useful.
Especially with people who like to build muscle mass so-called mini-cuts are enjoying increasing popularity. Ultimately, these are nothing more than more or less regular crash diets as interrupters of a longer bulk phase .
These short breaks help to maintain a relatively good shape even after the mass phase and also seem to have a positive effect on the development of muscle mass. The ratio of built-up muscles to fat mass is better and you save yourself a long diet phase towards summer.
The body adapts slowly
As for the disadvantages, I wrote something earlier about hormonal (metabolic) adjustments. However, the body does not immediately change all of its processes here. It always takes a certain amount of time. Therefore, there is even some evidence that very hard and short diets have even less effect here than long-term diets with a significantly lower calorie deficit.
What you can do to minimize the damage
As you can see, there are some disadvantages but also some arguments in favor of a crash diet. In the end, you have to decide for yourself whether this type of diet is right for you.
I usually recommend that most people lose weight slowly. This can be implemented very easily step by step and in the course of this you can also wonderfully change your diet so that you can keep it long-term without major problems
I can understand, however, that some people do not have the patience to lose weight slowly when it is possible to get there faster. Some (few) people are simply this “all or nothing” type who can cope better with drastic changes.
So if you decide to go on a crash diet, then I definitely want to give you a few more rules that you should follow if you achieve the best possible results and minimize the negative effects / risks want.
Get enough protein
As already described in my article about muscle maintenance in a diet , you should definitely make sure that you consume enough protein in a diet. Especially in a crash diet you should make sure that you don’t risk a protein deficiency . For this you should consume 2-2.5g protein per kilogram of body weight.
This not only helps you to maintain your muscles but also to keep your hormone balance at a healthy level.
Eat enough (essential) fats
At least as important for your hormonal balance and basically for your health is an adequate supply of fat. Fats in particular are often neglected in very restrictive diets.
I recommend that you consume at least 1g (especially essential) fats per kilo of body weight per day. This is always important anyway, but it is especially true in such a diet. Above all, make sure that you are consuming enough omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. through omega 3 fish oil capsules ).
Eat a lot (!) of fruits and vegetables
You should never be stingy with fruits and vegetables in a diet. A good supply of micronutrients is particularly important here.
Plus, vegetables also add a lot of volume to your food without adding too many calories. So vegetables fill you up without affecting your calorie balance.
Don’t skip your strength training
If you want to keep your muscles in your diet, then you should use them so that your body knows it needs them. The best way to do this is with Hypertrophy Training .
Don’t overdo it with your training
In a crash diet, you shouldn’t overdo it with the training volume. 3-4 training units per week are completely sufficient depending on the training plan ( full body training or split training ). Overtraining on a diet is quite counterproductive. You can also save more on volume (i.e. the number of exercises and sets) than on intensity.
Don’t go on a crash diet for too long
The negative effects of a crash diet especially come into play if you stick to it for too long. The longer you have a very large calorie deficit, the more often you should plan a Cheat Day or a loading day.
How long this can go well always depends on how high your body fat percentage is at the beginning of your diet. However, I do not recommend anyone to go on a crash diet that lasts longer than 4 weeks without a coach.
Plan early what you will do after the diet
Without a post-diet plan, you will automatically fall back into your old eating habits. That leads you straight to the famous yo-yo effect. If you don’t want that, then you should think about how you want to structure your diet (long-term) after the end of your crash diet.
Stop calling it a crash diet
If you call it the crash diet, then you have this negative component with the impending crash in your head all the time. Plus, it doesn’t sound like you’re well prepared and approached with a good plan. If you stick to the rules mentioned above, then you already are.
Better call it a turbo diet. That sounds positive and like success.
If you follow these rules, you should be able to achieve good results in a short time with such a form of diet and minimize the associated risks.
My experiences with crash diets
To be honest, I haven’t had any really positive experiences with crash diets. This is certainly also due to the fact that the potential disadvantages of wrongly approaching the boss should not be underestimated. For me it was just always more comfortable to slowly lose weight over a longer period of time with a low calorie deficit. For me it just fits better into a healthy concept of a long-term change in diet.
In the past few months, however, I’ve been looking more and more into ways to reduce these effects and make high-deficit diets more enjoyable. For this reason I now want to try a turbo diet again.
That is why I am currently in the process of developing my own Turbo Diet concept based on existing approaches. It won’t be quite as blatant as a PSMF and should be much more compatible with a normal professional life. Nevertheless, a maximum fat loss should be achieved in a few (possibly 4) weeks in the most healthy way possible.
Of course, my focus is on making it as easy as possible for you, so that you can hold out without constantly being at the limit of your willpower.