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February 14, 2008

Why Starvation Diets Never Work

By Samantha Hallinger

At some point or other in our lives, we’ve tried to starve ourselves into a size 6 dress. And it may have worked; but there’s no doubt that the results were only temporary and the moment a morsel of food touched our lips, we were right back where we started.

The worst part of starvation diets is that they actually do work for a while – you do begin to see results almost immediately. That’s why so many women stick to this tried and tested formula of starvation diets for a quick drop on the scale.

Unfortunately, starvation diets are also very dangerous to your health and will likely end up making you gain more weight in the end.

What happens on starvation diets?

Starvation diets problems #1
Your body keeps the fat
When your body senses that it’s not getting enough energy to get through the day (i.e. calories), it switches on its “self-preservation” mode and hangs on to all the fat stores of your body, rather than burning them for fuel.

Then, when you do finally eat, or rather, anything you ingest will be stored as fat because your body thinks it’s heading into a great famine.

Starvation diets problems #2
Your body eats the muscle

While your body is busy holding on to all that fat, it will begin to eat away at the muscles in your body, because they perform less metabolic work and are therefore not as useful as the fat stores.
So while you are losing weight initially, and the scale is making you a happy camper, at the end of the day, your body is eating away at the muscle stores and hanging on for dear life to the fat.

Starvation diets problems #3
Your eating habits come back

We all know that unless you become anorexic, which is a whole different topic altogether, you will eventually return to your old eating habits. What happens is, when you do finally ingest something with a significant amount of calories, your body will store it, along with all the other fat it’s kept thus far, because it assumes that it won’t be getting any more calories for a while.

The end result is that you’ve lost muscle tone, gained fat and weakened your system so that it burns calories more slowly in order to survive. The body is a marvelous thing and you’ve just managed to create a monster within.

Starvation diets problems #4
You’ll be fatigued

With a low and almost non-existent calorie intake, your energy stores will be depleted (calories and energy are synonymous). So you will feel yourself getting more and more sluggish, and waking up in the morning will be a challenge in and of itself.

While water will help to flush out your system, given that you keep drinking it, the lack of nutrients will begin to take their toll after only a few days.

Starvation diets problems #5
You’re always hungry
Whereas there are diets, or better yet, lifestyle changes that allow you to feel full and satisfied while losing weight, starvation diets will leave the hunger pangs beating into you.

Not only will you feel hungry all the time, starvation diets will make you irritable. Nothing makes a woman bitchier than hunger.

Starvation diets problems #6
You’ll get sick

Not only will starvation diets eat away at your muscle, they will also begin to make your bones brittle, munch away at your libido and weaken your immune system.

Sugar, caffeine, stress and constant dieting (yoyo dieting) literally starve your bones and so begin the symptoms of osteoporosis.

Your desire for sex will become almost non existent because your metabolism will slow down and your muscle stores are eroding.

Finally, due to a lack of essential nutrients and vitamins that your body needs, your immune system will not be able to ward off bacteria and viruses that will cause you to get ill.

Starvation diets problems #7
You damage your metabolism
Many people don’t understand that starvation diets have negative long term effects. Your metabolism doesn’t just slow down during your diet phase; it will maintain its slowness well after you begin eating again.

Your body will not immediately comprehend that you’re back to your regular eating habits so it will store everything you feed it as fat. By the time your body gets used to receiving regular calories, you will have already gained all your weight back.

Starvation diets problems #8
You’ll gain it all back
Because starvation diets cannot be maintained for extended periods of time, it is inevitable that you will gain all the weight you lost back, but this time, more of your weight returns will return as fat; not muscle.

The fact of the matter is that starvation diets do not present realistic goals for long term.

Starvation diets suck

It’s obvious that starving your body into weight loss is simply dumb and unrealistic. If you want to succeed on a diet, it needs to be one that you can commit to for a lifetime.

Your best bet would be to eat smaller portions and ingest plenty of fruits and vegetable, as well as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Starving may present immediate results, but you’ll be doing more good than harm over the long haul.

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