Just over a month before her wedding in 2021, Anjana Mohan(name changed), a researcher from Kerala, has received sarcastic comments about her weight from both her friends and family.
"Aren't you going to train? Don't you want to go on a diet?
“The questions were endless. Until then, I didn't feel comfortable or uncomfortable with my body. But these questions made me want to lose a few pounds. So I joined a gym."
Anjana Mohan, 28, para FIT
But weddings are a hectic time and of course Anjana found it very difficult to train every day. "Before I knew it, my wedding was only two weeks away. So I googled my options and decided to go on a strict diet."
However, this did not end well for Anjana. After consuming only juices and fruits for 7 to 10 days, the day before the wedding she felt weak, which caused her to vomit some, she recalls.
Anjana is probably not alone. Crash diets have become a popular weight loss option among brides over the years – a simple Google search will yield tons of articles on how to lose weight before the big day.
But will they help in the long run? And what are the risks involved?
AndADJUSTSpeaking with doctors and nutritionists, they all agreed that crash diets are not the ideal way to lose weight, especially before marriage.
“Weddings especially are not a good time to make sudden lifestyle changes, there is already a lot of pressure. But unfortunately, being fit is often confused with being skinny, and times like this force people, especially women, to lose weight, no matter the cost," says Nidhi Mohan Kamal, nutritionist and strength coach.
And crash diets come with their own problems, he adds.
What exactly are crash diets?
Crash diets are short-term diets. It is something that people look for when they need to lose weight urgently and quickly. Most of these are low calorie diets.
There are different types of crash diets like detox, juice diets, and GMO diets. "But crash diets are often mono-diets, a diet plan that involves eating only one food or food group for a few days or weeks," Kamal explains.
It's not that crash diets are ineffective, nutritionists say; it can help you lose weight quickly. But do the consequences outweigh the quick results?
Before we get into that, let's understand how the body loses weight when you go on a strict diet.
How does the body lose weight on a strict diet?
Your body weight can be a factor of three things: water weight, fat, and muscle mass, Kamal explains. Ideally, any weight loss method should focus on burning fat and maintaining/gaining muscle mass, but burning fat takes time.
So what happens on a crash diet? "Because a crash diet is often a low-calorie diet, you end up burning water or muscle (protein) weight," she says.
"Eating a low-calorie diet makes the body think it's starving," says Shiny Surendran, a Chennai-based sports nutritionist. "But because the body has to keep the organs running on low energy, it starts to break down the muscles and supply energy to all the organs."
For example, if a person needs 1,200 calories a day and only eats 500 to 600 calories, the shortfall will be made up by losing muscle mass.
“But what happens over time is that muscle mass decreases and a person can often experience injury and joint pain. And since low calories can mean few nutrients, a strict diet can affect your skin, hair, and even your mood,” says Surendran.
Plus, once you go off the diet, you'll regain the weight (or more) you lost immediately, he explains. For this reason, crash diets are also known as "yo-yo" diets.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The risks of a crash diet
Manoj Kumar, MD, Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences at Fortis Hospital, Delhi, says that in any weight loss program, the ideal weight loss is one pound per week. However, with crash diets, a person can lose more than a pound per week.
When there is rapid weight loss, it means that the person is consuming less than 800 calories per day. This is not without its consequences, she says.
After consulting with the doctor. Kumar, these are some of the main side effects of a strict diet.
muscular weakness:As the body begins to use muscle mass, a person may experience muscle weakness, which in turn can also affect bone strength.(Video) People are divorcing these days for FLIMSY REASONS| Causes of the high rate of divorce
nutrient deficiency:With a low-calorie diet, the absorption of essential nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron is reduced. And this can lead to severe fatigue, hair loss, skin problems, anemia, and a weak immune system.
Formation of gallstones:When a person eats fewer calories, the function of gallstones is reduced. This leads to excess bile in the gallbladder. As a result, cholesterol particles accumulate in the gallbladder, which in turn leads to gallstones.
Electrolytic disturbances:With this type of diet, the intake of electrolytes and minerals can be low, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular irregularities and even heart attacks.
metabolic changes:Your metabolic activity plays a crucial role in weight loss. By eating fewer calories, you can slow down your metabolism. And that can lead to hormonal changes.
Dehydration, irritability, muscle cramps, and constipation are some of the additional side effects, says Dr. Kumar
First, you should give yourself at least three to six months to lose weight, depending on how much weight you need to lose, Surendran says.
"And when you're dieting, you need to eat smart," she adds. “The basic principle is what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat. Eating one type of food or not eating at all is not an option.”
"And most importantly, you need to know how to navigate festivals, events and holidays, because at the end of the day we are all human and will have temptations and cravings. There can be setbacks - you can suddenly catch a viral fever or a cold, all of which you should keep in mind when planning your weight loss journey.
Shiny Surendran, Sports Nutritionist
For his part, Kamal suggests that lifestyle changes should be sustainable. "When you say 'diet,' it also means you can 'take down.' Eating healthy should be seen as a long-term, permanent change, not something you can go up and down," she says.
She also says it's important to see an expert look at your profile holistically, not just based on what's on the scale. "They may have underlying issues like PCOS, hypothyroidism, etc. So offering one meal plan for everyone won't work."
Attitudes must also change, says Surendran. “Most of the time it is young women who come to me before they get married, not men. I would say 90% of the time it's the girlfriend," he says.
There are no two ways to say this: the pressure to look a certain way is higher for women, especially during weddings.
“Even when women meet before a wedding, the bride is asked questions: how much she has lost, what dress she is wearing, etc. That's a lot. But men, instead, talk about stock markets and startups. So our own language is a problem."
Shiny Surendran, Sports Nutritionist
Kamal agrees, saying that glamor comes with being at your best on your wedding day. "When every article you see on Google and every magazine you open has pictures of 'skinny' girlfriends, the pressure is on you as a woman. This could also be why women resort to crash diets," says Kamal. .
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