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Crash Diet Definition: What You Need to Know

By Michael Gonzales
July 18, 2023
Crash Diets Definition What You Need to Know

Are you looking to shed some pounds quickly? You may have heard of the tendency to go on crash diets, but do you really know what they are, and the risks they entail? If not, this article will answer all your questions - from the definition of a crash diet, to its potential side effects and myths surrounding it.

Crash diets come with both benefits and consequences, so before engaging in one, learn why it might not be suitable for long-term weight loss, find out tips on how to diet safely, discover alternatives to fad diets and more.

Short Summary

  • Crash dieting is an unsustainable and potentially dangerous approach to rapid weight loss.
  • Consult a doctor or nutritionist before attempting a crash diet and maintain a balanced diet and fitness routine.
  • Yoga poses can help preserve muscle mass, manage stress, and elevate mood while on a crash diet.

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What is a Crash Diet?

Crash Diets Definition: what is crash diet

A crash diet is a weight loss plan that involves drastically reducing caloric intake over a brief period of time. This form of diet is often used to achieve a rapid change in body weight and shape. Crash diets are typically characterized by extreme restrictions on calorie intake, the exclusion of entire food groups, and the establishment of a dangerously low calorie limit.

Unfortunately, this approach to weight loss is highly discouraged due to its associated issues. The risks associated with crash dieting are numerous. A lack of nutrition can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, nutrient deficiencies, hair loss, and muscle loss. Many crash diets also fail to provide the necessary energy and nutrients for the body to function properly.

Furthermore, crash diets are not suitable for long-term weight loss due to their drastic nature and lack of sustainability. Therefore, it is important to consider the potential risks and side effects before embarking on a crash diet, and it is recommended to consult with a physician or seek advice from a certified clinical nutritionist.

Why Are Crash Diets Unhealthy?

crash diet unhealthy

Crash diets refer to diets that involve significantly cutting down calorie intake in a brief period of time, and they are deemed unhealthy due to the potential for hunger, slowed metabolism, and heart complications. Crash dieting may lead to a range of complications, including slowed metabolism, cardiac issues, gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalances, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, hypoglycemia, dehydration, acute gout, hair loss, weakness, constipation, and additional complications.

Exercise provides protection against muscle loss during weight loss, however it is important to note that training on low energy may result in light-headedness and a potential for injury. The drastic nature of crash diets may result in fat loss, however, there is a possibility of losing lean muscle tissue as well.

It is imperative to be aware of nutrient deficiencies that may result from crash diets as essential nutrients must be consumed in adequate amounts daily. Crash dieting is not ideal for long-term weight loss, as it is likely that reverting to the dietary habits that initially led to the weight gain can result in an increase of calorie intake and poor-quality food.

To achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss, it is recommended to make nutritious food selections, cultivate healthy habits in regards to meals and lifestyle, practice consistency, and engage in physical activity to prevent muscle loss during the weight loss process.

You'll be Hungry

Crash diets can cause hunger through a decrease in calorie consumption, which may result in a decrease in blood sugar levels and an elevation of hunger hormones, including ghrelin. Hunger can lead to weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and an elevated risk of chronic diseases, as well as malnutrition, stunted growth in children, and a weakened immune system.

It is possible that hunger caused by crash diets may trigger overeating as the body attempts to compensate for the lack of calories and nutrients. This can consequently result in binge eating and weight gain.

They Slow Your Metabolism

Metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories, and an elevated metabolic rate implies that more calories are burned even at rest, which can be beneficial in terms of weight loss

Caloric restriction in crash diets results in a short term decrease in metabolic rate due to the body entering a state of adaptive thermogenesis, wherein it temporarily slows down metabolism when there is a drastic reduction in intake.

A slowed metabolism can impede weight loss efforts, as the body will burn fewer calories when at rest. Consequently, even if caloric intake remains unchanged, weight loss may not occur as rapidly as previously.

They're Bad for the Heart

Very low calorie diets result in an increase of fat in the heart, and it is possible that very low calorie diets may induce complications in individuals with cardiac conditions. It is of utmost importance to consult a medical professional before commencing a very low calorie diet, particularly in those with a history of heart disease.

Crash diets can result in a temporary decline in heart function.

Is Crash Dieting Safe?

crash diet safe

A crash diet, or a very low calorie diet (VLCD), is a dietary regimen that involves severely limiting calorie intake over a brief period. Whilst it may offer rapid weight loss, crash diets are typically unhealthy, as they can lead to long-term health risks such as nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and a slower metabolism.

Whilst it is possible to undertake a crash diet safely, it is important to do so under professional supervision to ensure that it is done correctly. Generally, it is considered safe to undertake a crash diet for one to two days, as longer durations can increase the risk of potential health risks. The most suitable method for safely crash dieting involves maintaining adequate hydration, eating nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding drastic changes to dietary habits. Not adhering to stringent dietary guidelines while on a VLCD may result in a greater than 25 percent reduction in lean body mass.

Therefore, it is important to assess the potential risks and benefits of crash dieting before undertaking such a regimen. Professional supervision can help to ensure that the diet is done safely and that potential health risks are minimized.

Are All Diets Bad?

diets bad

Not all diets are bad. Crash diets, however, are not recommended due to the fact that they necessitate consuming less than the individual's Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which can impede metabolism, result in muscle loss, and potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies. It is suggested to make lasting modifications to one's diet and lifestyle, such as consuming a nutritious diet, reducing portion sizes, and increasing physical activity, as a way to attain weight loss.

Crash diets can have adverse effects on mental health, and may be dangerous for people with existing health conditions. In addition, many crash diets are not sustainable for long-term weight loss, and can lead to an increased risk of gaining back the weight.

The best approach to weight loss is to create a healthy diet and exercise plan that works for you and is sustainable. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise are the best ways to lose weight in a healthy manner.

If you are considering a crash diet, it is important to consult a doctor or dietician to ensure it is safe for you.

What Do You Eat on a Crash Diet?

what do you eat on a crash diet

Crash diets don't come with a fixed meal plan. You need to plan these diets on your own. The general guideline for a crash diet is to reduce caloric intake by 50% or more and to abstain from major food groups such as carbohydrates, fats, and in some cases proteins. The calorie intake range for a crash diet is generally between 800-1,200 calories per day. For example, the Cabbage Soup Diet is a dietary regimen consisting primarily of cabbage and other vegetables.

Crash diets are very restrictive and should not be used for long periods of time, as they can lead to nutrient deficiencies and muscle loss. Additionally, some crash diets may require you to only drink juice or water, or to consume cayenne pepper or other supplements. It’s important to remember that crash diets are only intended for short-term weight loss and should be combined with a fitness routine and mental health checks.

Crash diets can cause faster weight loss for those who are looking for quick results, however, this weight loss is usually due to water weight and muscle loss rather than fat loss. Many crash diets, such as the Master Cleanse, are fad diets and should be avoided.

What Are The Benefits Of Crash Dieting?

benefits of crash dieting

Crash dieting is a method of rapid weight loss that involves significantly reducing calorie intake over a brief period of time. People who crash diet are often attracted to its advantages, which include rapid weight loss, increased energy levels, and augmented motivation.

Crash dieting facilitates rapid weight loss by inducing a caloric deficit in the body. When an individual consumes fewer calories than their body requires, it begins to burn stored fat for energy, resulting in weight loss. Furthermore, crash dieting can result in a temporary surge of energy, as stored glucose is released in the body. This effect, however, is only temporary and could be followed by a decline in energy levels.

In addition, crash dieting may also bolster motivation by offering prompt outcomes concerning weight reduction. This can assist individuals in feeling more motivated to persist with their weight loss journey and make more beneficial decisions in the long run. With a crash diet, individuals can potentially lose weight quickly and become more motivated to maintain their healthier lifestyle.

Things To Do Before Going On A Crash Diet

It is essential to prepare before initiating a crash diet, to avert the adverse repercussions of misusing it such as food fixation, peevishness, and overeating. To do this, it is recommended to consume low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and unsalted nuts.

Additionally, it is advised to avoid junk foods, fried foods, and sweets. Adhering to these guidelines before beginning a crash diet can help minimize the likelihood of experiencing any of the potential consequences of ill-advised crash diets.

Crash Diet Side Effects

crash diet side effects

The side effects of crash diets refer to the adverse consequences that may arise from adhering to a very low calorie diet or other form of crash diet. Crash diets can have a significant impact on physical health, leading to weakened immunity, nausea, muscle deterioration, and hair loss.

Additionally, crash diets can also have psychological repercussions, including food preoccupation, agitation, and episodes of overeating. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to adhere to a balanced diet and fitness routine while on a crash diet, as many crash diets can be dangerous if not used correctly.

Should Teenagers Crash Diet?

teenagers crash diet

Crash dieting among teenagers is not recommended due to potential risks associated with such diets, such as impeding growth and compromised mental wellbeing. Teenagers should consult a professional when it comes to dieting, such as a registered dietitian, in order to acquire a personalized diet chart and ensure that they are receiving the necessary nutrients.

Alternatives to crash dieting for teenagers include engaging in physical activity, which can provide a healthy method of weight loss, in addition to an enhancement in mental health and general well-being.

It is important for teenagers to understand that the best way to lose excess weight is not through a quick fix, such as crash dieting, but rather through a long-term commitment to a balanced and healthy diet and fitness routine.

Crash Diet Is Not For Long-Term Weight Loss

crash diet long term weight loss

Crash diets are not suitable for long-term weight loss due to their highly restrictive nature, which does not provide the body with the essential nutrients it needs. The weight lost during a crash diet is mostly composed of water weight and lean muscle, not body fat. This makes it very easy to regain the weight after the diet is over. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended to seek a doctor's advice prior to undertaking a 7-day crash diet plan, as such crash diets are very low calorie diets and can be dangerous if not done with professional guidance.

Crash diets, such as fad diets, are not the optimal way to lose weight; alternative methods such as calorie restriction and consistent fitness routines are much more healthy and can help in achieving long-term weight loss goals. The key to successful weight loss is to take a balanced approach and make lifestyle changes that are sustainable. Many crash diets can be detrimental to health as they can result in muscle loss and nutrient deficiencies.

For those considering crash diets, it is important to remember that these diets are not meant for long-term weight loss. Crash diets can help with losing weight quickly, but they are not a sustainable way to maintain a healthy weight. It is important to research different diets and consult a doctor before starting any diet, as crash diets can be dangerous if not done correctly.

Infographic: Yoga Poses To Do While On A Crash Diet

Exercising while on a crash diet can have a number of benefits, including preserving muscle mass and tone, which can facilitate weight loss. Additionally, it can assist in stress management and enhance mood. Yoga is particularly beneficial during crash dieting, due to its focus on breathing, balance, and flexibility. Certain yoga poses which may be advantageous while on a crash diet include the plank pose, downward-facing dog, warrior II, and the bridge pose.

It is important to consult a doctor before beginning a fad diet, as they can be hazardous if used for an extended period of time, potentially causing nutrient deficiencies and other health issues. Consulting a doctor can aid in guaranteeing that the diet is secure and suitable for the individual's needs.


Crash diets have become increasingly popular over the last few years, with people eager to lose weight quickly and regain their sense of body confidence. However, it is important to recognize that crash diets are not appropriate for everyone due to their potential health risks and should only be done under the strict supervision of a physician or nutritionist.

One of the main problems linked to crash dieting is the feeling of hunger associated with it, which can cause physical and mental distress in some cases. Furthermore, crash diets can also slow down your metabolism and even lead to heart complications, making it even more important to consult a health expert before starting any crash diet program.

However, with the right guidance, crash diets can still offer many advantages, such as rapid weight loss and increased energy levels. The key is to keep in mind that this plan should not be used for long-term weight loss and should always be accompanied by a balanced diet and fitness routine. In addition, consuming nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods while adhering to the crash diet can help mitigate some of its associated risks.

Finally, it’s essential to remember that crash diets should never become a habit or considered a desirable choice for teenagers, as this has potentially devastating effects on both their health and wellbeing. To avoid these issues, take things slow, pay attention to all environmental and physiological stimuli, and stick with a sustainable approach to weight loss and improved overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered crash diet?

Crash diets, otherwise known as total diet replacement (TDR) programmes, are a drastic solution for weight loss which involves reducing caloric intake to between 800-1,200 calories per day.

This is significantly lower than the usual recommended calories of 2,000 per day for women and 2,500 for men.

How do crash diets work?

Crash diets work by drastically reducing one's energy intake in order to fuel rapid weight loss. Generally, they involve cutting out certain food groups or consuming an incredibly low-calorie diet. This forces the body to burn stored fat for energy rather than relying on food consumption.

As a result, individuals can expect to see dramatic results in just a few weeks, provided they maintain the regimented caloric restrictions.

What is a crash diet for weight loss?

Crash diets are strict dietary plans designed for quick weight loss. They involve drastically reducing daily calorie intake, often below your basal metabolic rate.

These diets come with risks such as nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, and poor long-term results. It is important to consult a doctor before undertaking a crash diet instead of following fad diet advice.

How unhealthy is a crash diet?

Crash diets are highly dangerous and not recommended for good health. Such restrictive diets can cause physical and mental distress, significantly weaken the immune system, lead to fatigue and dizziness, and may even increase the risk of developing eating disorders.

Therefore, a crash diet is an incredibly unhealthy approach to weight loss.

What is considered a crash diet?

A crash diet is a very restrictive eating approach which involves severely reducing your calorie intake to lose weight quickly. It typically involves consuming 800 kilocalories (3,300 kJ) or fewer per day.

This type of diet is meant to be used for a short period and should not be continued for an extended time.


  • Michael Gonzales

    Michael Gonzales is a seasoned Health & Fitness Consultant, dedicated to helping individuals achieve their wellness goals. With extensive expertise in customizing fitness plans based on individual needs, he guides clients towards optimal health. Michael's passion for empowering others has made him a trusted resource in the industry. His comprehensive approach encompasses physical fitness and overall well-being, enabling remarkable transformations. For exceptional guidance and lasting results, rely on the expertise of Michael Gonzales, your partner in embracing a healthier lifestyle.

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