So it’s important to know important issues like the pros, cons, and types of such dieting.
What are Extreme Diets?
You’ve probably heard of an extreme weight loss diet but how is it defined? As the name suggests it involves going to the extreme to lose weight and fat.
This can include a wide variety of actions including a big reduction in calories, long periods of fasting, low carbohydrate intake, and so on. It’s about more than just eating more fruits/veggies or smaller portions. Here are some of the common features of such diets:
1. Fewer calories
An average adult needs about 2,000 calories per day. However, if you want to lose weight you should start cutting calories. Regular diets might reduce this figure by 100 or 200 calories. However, if you do extreme dieting this figure might be dropped to 1,000 calories per day, for example.
There are different ways you can reduce calories. For example, you could make your meals much smaller or even eat two meals per day instead of three. What’s important is that you’re doing very strict calorie counting to verify that you’re indeed getting a major caloric deficit in your everyday diet.
2. Long-term fasting
Here’s another common component of an extreme weight loss diet. If you’re doing weightlifting it’s important not to fast too long since muscle mass will start dropping after 48 hours of fasting.
However, there are options like Intermittent Fasting (IF) which usually includes 18-20 hours of fasting per day or 24 hours of fasting followed by 24 hours of eating. This extreme dieting works because after your body burns up all the food in your body it starts getting energy from stored fat.
3. Low Carbohydrates
One of the most common types of dieting today includes low-carb diets. What’s referred to as “carbs” are often starchy foods or refined grains like white flour or white sugar. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient along with protein and fat.
However, studies do show that refined grains are one of the biggest causes of weight gain. So if you reduce your white bread, sodas, cakes/cookies you’ll be well on your way to losing weight faster.
Experts generally recommend that fruits and veggies should make up about half of your diet. However, extreme diets often include eating only fruit and/or veggies.
Vegetarians don’t eat meat but eat animal products like milk and eggs. A more extreme type of dieting is veganism. Vegans don’t eat meat or animal-based products including egg and dairy foods. Finally, a raw food diet is similar but only includes uncooked food.
5. One meal a day
This type of extreme weight loss diet reduces three meals a day to one meal. It’s basically a combination of calorie reduction and fasting. In some cases, people actually eat a full 2,000 calories in one meal so it’s basically just a type of fasting.
In other cases, people use caloric reduction as well. If you’re doing regular workouts it’s advisable not to reduce your calories too much since you’ll need to replace the calories/nutrients you lose during exercise and protein, in particular, will be needed if you’re weightlifting.
Possible Dangers of Extreme Dieting
If you’re doing to do an extreme weight loss diet it’s important to know some of the possible dangers and how to avoid them. Any activity with the “extreme” in it has possible dangers because you’re going beyond the norm.
For example, it’s one thing to cut 100 calories a day but quite another thing to fast for 24 hours. Here are some of the red flags to watch out for when doing extreme dieting:
1. Extreme caloric deficit
There’s a small difference between major calorie counting and starvation. If you plan to do such diets then it’s advisable that you only stay on the diet for the short term.
It’s ironic but one of the common results of low-calorie diets is that the person’s metabolic rate slows down so when the diet ends it often results in fast weight gain.
When doing extreme calorie-cutting it can have major effects on both the body and mind. In some cases, these results can be life-threating so it’s important to watch out for symptoms of extreme dieting including:
- Gallbladder disease
- Red eyes
- Sinus issues
- Weak muscles
- Weight gain
There are also many mental effects of extreme caloric deficit including depression, irritability, eating disorders, and low sex drive. If you’re experiencing several of these physical/mental effects of super-low caloric deficit you should stop the dieting immediately.
2. Extreme fasting
There’s a difference between missing a meal now and then and fasting via an extreme weight loss diet. For example, IF dieting can include fasting 24 hours every other day.
While this can be very effective for weight loss it can also be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions to make sure you minimize the risk of health issues.
Extreme diets sometimes include some sort of fasting. The extreme part of the fasting is usually about what the dieter can eat/drink during the fasting period, or the fast’s length. For example, sometimes little or no food/drink is allowed during the fasting period, and other times the fasting period is 24 or 36 hours.
3. Extreme malnutrition
This is another major risk when you follow an extreme diet. This is due to calorie-cutting. It becomes especially dangerous if you’re cutting calories but isn’t getting the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes you need for your body and mind to function properly.
Malnutrition can cause many physical risks. One of the most common ones is a drop in energy levels and a negative mood. This results from a drop in the dieter’s blood sugar level.
Another possible physical symptom is muscle atrophy. This includes the weakening of the heart, which is a critical situation since it could cause a life-threatening situation.
There are also psychological effects that can result when you suffer from malnutrition due to an extreme diet. They include irritability and depression.
There are several causes of these mental conditions but when you’re constantly suffering from malnutrition it can cause a potentially dangerous situation when the dieter behaves irrationally in certain situations.
4. Extreme eating habits
Another possible result of extreme dieting is eating disorders. Extreme diets are meant to be followed for a short time. However, in some cases, the person continues the dieting for a long time. That can result in various eating disorders. For example, a person can become obsessed with counting every single calorie they consume.
It’s important to note that there are several factors that can cause a person to develop an eating disorder. However, an extreme diet might be the thing that pushes a person over the edge and causes them to deprive themselves of the food they need for
Types of Extreme Weight loss Diets
There are many types of extreme diets and here are some of the main ones:
1. Paleo Diets
The paleo diet is a type of hunter-gatherer diet that mimics the way human ancestors ate during Earth’s Paleolithic period.
There are several different variations of this extreme diet but they generally exclude foods like beans, starchy veggies/carbs, and milk products.
One of the big issues about this diet is that experts aren’t 100% certain about what our human ancestors ate. Some experts believe that ancient humans actually age grains and milk.
One of the most extreme versions of the paleo diet is the “raw paleo” type. This type of diet only allows people to eat uncooked food. One of the big problems with this type of diet is that they’re unbalanced in terms of the nutrients they provide.
Calcium can be consumed using plant-based foods but if high-calcium foods aren’t eaten it could result in osteoporosis. Another issue is that maintaining a diet without beans, pasta, rice, etc. can reduce your Vitamin B and fiber intake.
2. Single Food Diets
This doesn’t just include people who have eaten one Big Mac or pizza for decades. This extreme diet allows you to only eat one kind of food or food group. That includes cabbage soup or grapefruit.
The problem with this approach is there’s no single “superfood” that contains all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes you need on a daily basis. Health experts often recommend that people avoid these types of diets.
The problem with the so-called weight loss that results from the diets is likely to be from water or muscles. There are several common side effects of this extreme diet including fatigue, low energy, and irritability.
When you’re avoiding certain kinds of food you can also experience symptoms like diarrhea or constipation.
3. Juice Diets
This is one of the most extreme types of extreme weight loss diet. As the name suggests it includes only consuming fruit/vegetable juice and usually for 3 or more days. You can buy commercial juices or use a blender to make your own.
There are tons of vitamins and minerals in fruits/veggies so what’s the problem? The problem is you’ll be missing minerals like calcium, carbs, healthy fat, and protein.
One of the problems with this type of extreme diet is most of the weight you lose is water and muscle instead of fat. Another issue is the weight will return once you return to solid foods. Juice diets are very effective for detox but aren’t a good idea for the long term. They can cause symptoms including:
- Low energy
4. Sugar-free Diets
There are several versions of this extreme diet. They include diets that exclude sugar, starchy carbs, and sugar from fruits/milk products. Nutritionists generally recommend that people consume a small amount of sugar in their diets, raw sugar is the healthiest option.
However, removing all sugar and carbs from a person’s diet is quite unhealthy. Some of the possible symptoms are low energy, fatigue, constipation, and anemia.
Another major red flag with this extreme diet is avoiding all fruit. Experts recommend that people at 5 servings of different fruits/veggies for purposes like fighting cancer and heart health.
5. Food Combining
This is somewhat of a twist on the single-food diets. This extreme dieting requires that you combine particular food groups and avoid particular combinations. For example, carbs and meat might be forbidden but green veggies and pasta might be combined.
The combination of foods is based on how much acidity certain foods have and how well the body can digest particular food combos. However, there’s no scientific evidence that these extreme diets can boost weight loss or improve digestion.
What to Look for in a Diet
When looking for a new diet whether it’s extreme or not what should you look for? Here are some of the most important features:
Nutritionists generally recommend that half your diet should be fruits and vegetables. It’s important to eat a wide variety of them so you’ll be getting different vitamins and minerals.
2. Low Fat
Your body needs a certain amount of fat and it’s important to get more “healthy” fat. However, high-fat diets can result in various risks like heart attacks and type-2 diabetes.
3. Whole Grains
Grains should be about one-third of your diet and at least half of them should be whole grains. That includes whole wheat flour, brown rice, oatmeal, and corn.
4. Portion Control
It’s not only important to focus on the foods you’re eating when you diet but also the amount. If you want to lose weight in a healthy and natural way it won’t happen overnight even if you use extreme dieting/fitness. Look for diets that reduce serving sizes.
5. Unprocessed Foods
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that processed foods are cancer-causing. Make sure that most of your food includes minimal processing so you get the nutrients you need daily.
If you want to try an extreme weight loss diet make sure to keep these issues in mind to get the best results for your weight-loss goals.