Be warned: Crash dieting may give you more belly fat

If you want to lose weight, don’t do it by crash dieting. A study conducted by a team of researchers from Georgetown University found that crash dieting can make you gain more belly fat and make your muscles weaker. Additionally, it can also make angiotensin II, a hormone known to increase blood pressure, hyperactive. Having high blood pressure and belly fat at the same time could trigger the onset of chronic health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

For the study, the research team divided female rats into two groups: a reduced group and a control group. The reduced group had their calorie intake cut by 60 percent, which is equal to reducing a diet in humans from 2,000 calories to 800 calories. On the other hand, the control group maintained their normal diet.

After three days, the rats on the reduced-calorie diet experienced weight loss, but their cycling, which is similar to a human’s menstrual cycle, stopped. The reduced-calorie diet also reduced a number of metabolic functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and kidney function. When the rats went back to their normal diet, cycling was restored and both heart rate and body weight increased.

However, three months later, the rats had more belly fat compared to those that maintained their normal diet. The angiotensin II hormone was also more potent at increasing blood pressure in the rats that followed a reduced-calorie diet. Angiotensin II increases blood pressure by binding to receptors and constricting blood vessels. In addition, it promotes the production of other hormones that cause the body to retain salt and water.

This elevated blood pressure, when combined with increased belly fat, could lead to chronic health conditions for people who have crash-dieted in the past.

Earlier studies have reported that crash dieting can harm the body both immediately and in the long run. When you crash diet, your body compensates by conserving as much energy as it can because it does not know when you will eat again. In addition, in crash dieting, the body first works to rebuild fat stores before muscles. This means that any fat lost while dieting will be restored first before the muscles. (Related: Want to look good for the holidays? Don’t rush it or you may end up bigger than you started.)

Lose weight fast without crash dieting

Here are six strategies you can follow to lose the weight fast, and in a healthy way:

  • Do both cardio and resistance exercises: Combining cardio and resistance exercises will promote continuous fat burn.
  • Do not eat or drink processed foods: Avoid junk foods and processed foods and drink only water. Water has zero calories and can help you feel full for longer. It can also help eliminate toxins in the body and keep the body energized throughout the day.
  • Do not starve yourself: Staying full throughout the day is the key to losing weight effectively. The ideal way to do this is to eat small meals containing 200 calories every three to four hours. This will prevent you from getting hungry and keep you motivated.
  • Eat more lean proteins and vegetables: Instead of eating pork and beef, opt for leaner proteins such as fish and chicken. Fish contains healthy oils that are beneficial to health, while vegetables provide various nutrients without being high in calories.
  • Track your daily activities: Monitoring your daily activities will help you determine how much more you can lose and were to cut down. It will also help you see your progress and keep you motivated.
  • Try to lose only one to two kilograms (kg) each week: Losing only between one to two kg per week is safe and can help you maintain a healthy weight in the long run.

Read more news stories and studies on crash dieting by going to

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