Are you considering crash dieting for summer? Let us change your mind. Keep reading for a Registered Dietitian’s guide to a successful, healthy and confident summer.
How to get a beach body: Step 1- have a body. Step 2- go to the beach. Congratulations! You have a beach body. As the weather warms up and the sun comes out more often, so does the toxic diet culture. The countdown to summer may have you considering crash dieting, but the success rate may persuade you to reconsider. 80% of dieters fail to maintain their weight loss long-term. With such a low success rate, why are these diets still promoted? By 2026, the weight loss products market will jump to $377.3 billion. This number should have you reflecting on your reasons for crash dieting and how you value your own health. Research shows that very low calorie crash diets for rapid weight loss are unsustainable and unsuccessful long term. Why? Crash diets slow down your metabolism, cause hunger/fullness hormone dysregulation, and are tough to stick to. These effects lead to a high percentage of weight regain with an increased difficulty to lose it in the future. We promote health and body confidence over crash dieting to successfully reach your goals.
The Downside of Crash Dieting
A ‘crash diet’ is any unhealthy diet done for the purpose of losing weight rapidly. This includes those that cut out and/or do not allow certain foods or food groups, those that promote high calorie restriction, or promises to shed a lot of weight in a short period of time. Don’t torture yourself with crash dieting for summer. A few weeks of restriction will likely only accomplish a long road of metabolism dysregulation, a poor relationship with food and increased struggle with your weight loss journey.
Unsuccessful & Unsustainable
Healthy weight loss happens at 0.5-2 lbs per week, depending on your starting weight. A major reason crash dieting fails is because your body has a set point, which is a weight range your body is used to and strives to maintain. Your body strives to get back to homeostasis and return to its set point especially when weight loss happens too rapidly. Gradual weight loss at a healthy pace increases chances of the weight staying off. Learn to be okay with the process! Quick fixes and yo-yo dieting are a lifelong struggle, learning to eat in a healthy way without dieting may take longer than a crash diet, but ends the diet cycle. You’ll reach your goals and they’ll actually stick. Don’t discount your progress along the way– weight loss of even 5% of your current body weight significantly improves health outcomes and reduces risk of many disease states.
Effects on Metabolism
Crash dieting and very restrictive diets tend to have poor outcomes on metabolism, often causing dysregulation related to metabolic adaptation. As you take in less and less energy from food, your metabolism slows down to conserve as much energy as it can to get you through your daily activities. It then learns to function at this level of low food intake, which prevents further weight loss to occur at low intake and causes weight gain when you begin to eat a healthy amount of food again.
Wreaking Havoc on Hormones
Restricting food intake and skipping meals will throw off healthy hormone signaling. You can look forward to energy crashes, cravings and brain fog due to dips and spikes in unsteady blood sugar. The hormones released in response to blood sugar regulation (insulin and glucagon) will also be affected, having long lasting, negative effects on health and weight long-term. Cortisol, your stress hormone, is also likely to remain elevated and can cause inflammation, insulin resistance and make it harder to lose weight.
Grab your towel and your SPF, it’s time to feel confident at the beach. Here’s a dietitian’s guide to a healthy, confident summer:
Begin healthy, daily basics: Implement healthy daily habits that you should stick to no matter the time of year. This includes staying hydrated and getting in some physical activity, starting with a daily steps goal. We suggest aiming for 10k steps daily as a solid goal! Prioritize protein at all your main meals and snacks, this should eventually become second nature!
Take advantage of summer produce: Up your fruit and vegetable game by incorporating colorful, in-season produce in meals, snacks and drinks! This will help boost your fiber intake, vitamin and mineral intake, and possibly your water intake (think: produce high in water like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers)
Control what you can: Start your day with a morning workout and a balanced breakfast. Head to your beach day, picnic, pool party and enjoy yourself knowing you started your day strong and then enjoy your special event.
You deserve to eat: Make sure to eat consistently (every 3-4 hrs)! Balanced blood sugar = balanced mood, balanced hormones, and higher weight loss success rate.
Clothes should work to fit you, not the other way around: Buy clothes and bathing suits that fit your CURRENT body instead of trying to fit into last year’s items that are no longer comfortable. It is not your job as a human being to fit into clothes! It is clothes’ job to fit you! If it’s not doing its job, time to go shopping! A lot of our clients are loving clothing rental companies like Rent The Runway. Give it a try to experiment with different styles and sizes that you feel most confident in.
Accessorize with confidence: Adding accessories can add confidence. Try adding some big earrings like gold hoops, a trendy sun hat, or a bright lip color to pair with swimwear! Go for a fun cover up to tie it all together and draw in confidence and compliments.
Break out the SPF: Try a glowy, bronze tinted sunscreen! Bring confidence to your face while you protect it from the sun and work on your skin health. Win-win!
Consider skipping the booze: Setting goals around alcohol intake can make a big difference. You may want to try choosing a mocktail over a cocktail once, alternate with water, or simply ask– what would alcohol add to this situation?
Find balance daily: Shift away from an all or nothing mindset and instead focus on balance at every meal or every day. Crash dieting and cutting out all of your food favorites at once will likely leave you miserable, unsuccessful and is unnecessary. If pizza is your favorite meal, go for it! Find balance by practicing portion control with the pizza, maybe a slice or two, and add a source of protein and a bunch of veggies.
Think big: It’s easy to get laser focused on how we want to look/feel for one event (birthday party, wedding, vacation, you name it) but what happens the day after that event? Next week? Month? Putting all of our focus into one day typically leads us away from what matters most: making changes we can actually keep up for the long haul.
Remember that no one really cares: We mean that in the nicest way possible! In other words, no one’s strongest memory from the summer will be how you looked in your bathing suit that one day…Just sayin’. When you look back on events, vacations, celebrations, you should have happy memories about the time you had, not how your body looked.