How to Crash Diet (Reasonably)

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Ever find yourself feeling a sense of impending doom because of an upcoming event where you want to look your best? While crash dieting can be detrimental when used for long term weight loss or when done regularly, it is okay to do every once in a while for a short period of time (assuming you are healthy). 

A couple of summers ago I was facing wearing a bikini for the first time since starting to lose weight. I had already gone from 225 lbs to 186 lbs, but I had hit a plateau and been slacking for a few months. I had made a commitment to myself that I would wear a bikini that summer, but I wasn’t at a point where I felt confident with my body. With 7 days until bikini time, I created a strategy that was designed to make me lose weight fast while not making me completely miserable in the process. I managed to get down to 173 lbs. by the time I went to the beach. That weight loss didn’t last long, but I expected that and was okay with it. 

Oftentimes when people want to lose weight fast they try eating next to nothing and overexercising. Some people even take laxatives or other misery inducing substances. This often results in hating everything and bingeing the second your quick fix diet is over. 

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The Reasonable Quick Fix Strategy

While for long term dieting/ healthy living I am not a fan of strict diets, you are going to have to be strict if you want to lose a noticeable amount of weight fast.

When it comes to losing weight fast, you aren’t going to be losing much fat (1-2 lbs. max). Most of what you will be losing is water weight/ other internal buildup.

Chances are you will quickly gain a significant amount of that weight back after you return to your normal habits. Personally, I don’t do these types of diets for anything more than 10 days (usually less). 

Calories: When it comes to losing water weight, what you eat is a lot more important than how many calories you are eating. The minimum intake (depending on size/activity level) is between 1200-1600 calories per day. More on calories here

1. Cut Out Refined Carbohydrates, Added Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners.  I usually cut out all grains entirely for the last few days of my crash diets, but have a hard time cutting them out any longer than that. You may struggle with this if you eat a lot of starches/ sugars. If that is the case, then ease into it and reduce your intake gradually throughout the diet. 

2. No Sodas or Sweetened Beverages. This includes diet drinks with artificial sweeteners. Stick to water, coffee, tea and fresh smoothies/juices (the kind you make yourself). 

3. No Processed Food. Real food only. 

4. Minimize Sodium Intake. Excess sodium intake contributes to water retention. A lot of processed food is high in sodium. Keep your sodium intake at 1,500 mg or less and preferably coming through healthier salts with higher amounts of minerals (e.g. Himalayan Pink Salt).

5. Drink Lots of Water. Water helps cleanse your body and reduce water weight. Start your day out with 16 oz./ 500 mL of water. Have plenty with each meal and drink continuously throughout the day. Aim for at least 10 cups (80 oz.)/ 2.5 L. 

6. Eat Plenty of Protein, Vegetables and Natural Fats. Getting enough protein and fat is important for feeling satisfied. Eat plenty of vegetables, they should be where the majority of your carbohydrates are coming from. 

7. Focus on Cardio. Interval training will be especially effective. Aim for 30+ minutes of cardio, 5 times per week.  Do strength training as well, but put a greater emphasis on cardio. 

8. Don’t Stress Over It. Be confident, be at peace with yourself. 

Crash dieting is not a good strategy for long term weight loss/ health. It can screw up your metabolism if you do it on a regular basis. 

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3 thoughts on “How to Crash Diet (Reasonably)

    • Over limiting calories can screw up the metabolism in longer-term diets. While cardio may be better for short-term weight loss, strength training is more important long term. It builds muscles which burn more calories than fat and strength training prevents muscle from being lost during weight loss.

      I also think for longer-term diets it is important to break the rules every so often to maintain sanity.

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