Crash dieting may lead to weight loss, but the weight you are losing is mostly in the form of water and muscle mass.
I was in a local restaurant today enjoying a rare treat of eating lunch out with my husband and daughter and I overheard the man at the table next to me tell the waitress he was on day 1 of the South Beach Diet. He told her the homemade bread was proving hard to resist. I kind of laughed to myself because it was only his second meal on day 1 of the diet and already his body was craving carbs. His body and brain were sending out a signal, an extremely logical signal, and he was choosing to ignore his body and follow a diet plan.
There are many problems with eliminating carbs from your diet, the fact that they are a major source of fuel for your brain is one. But another issue is that when you don’t provide your body with the carbs it needs, your body begins to break down muscle in a last ditch effort to keep you alive (unfortunately, your body knows it is in a state of famine, but has no way of knowing how long the famine will last, so it basically pulls out all the stops). As your muscle breaks down, you release water. This is why you will lose weight if you stop eating carbs, but you’ll probably have a headache, feel cranky and won’t be able to concentrate.
So, the next time you are tempted to follow some crazy diet that expects you to cut out a major source of nutrition, ask yourself how long you will be able to pass up fruit, dairy, grains and even some vegetables – and will it be worth it to lose some water weight and some muscle – only to gain it right back and then some once you start eating normally again, oh, and the weight you gain back probably won’t be muscle.