5.41 Avoid “Crash Diets”
There is never a situation where a person should go on a “crash diet”, meaning reducing the number of calories that they eat SO low that they go into a fasting state quickly and drop pounds rapidly. This would mean eating 800 calories or less. Only in rare, doctor monitored scenarios should someone even attempt a diet between 800-1200 calories per day.
Extremely low calorie diets will, of course, make you lose weight, but are quite risky to your health. These diets essentially cause “malnutrition”. You risk vitamin deficiencies and if you do not eat enough protein your immune system can be weakened leading to severe infections. Not only this, but you will be breaking down precious muscle tissue as your body searches for a source of energy for its daily needs. This means that with these diets your overall strength will decline and as your muscle mass goes down, your basal metabolic rate goes down too, which is not good.
As you know on a whole food plant based diet without oil/sugar calories are not counted. Even the guidelines from the ACC/AHA/TOS recommend at least 1200-1500 calories per day for women and 1500-1800 calories per day for men. While they do also recommend a 500-750 calorie deficit per day for safe weight loss, this does not mean that if your basal metabolic rate is 1400 and you burn 450 calories with normal daily activities (totaling 1850 calories/day) that you can go on a 1100 calorie diet to get this deficit. You need to simply increase your physical activity and NOT just reduce your calorie intake. Lets not forget one important thing about crash diets, there is no way that you can keep it up long term. It is no different than a fad diet. You can’t stick to it forever and once you are done, you will go right back to your poor dietary habits and the weight will come back on.
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals is never a good thing, especially when on a low calorie diet. Skipping meals can really put a strain on your system and even worse, reduce your basal metabolic rate. Skipping that meal is going to tell your body “I don’t have enough food … go into a fasting state now”. It will slow your metabolism, which is not what we want. Even worse, research has shown that skipping a meal results in significant overeating on your next meal. The key is to not skip any meals, but make sure they are good, healthy meals. It is better to eat two 300-400 calorie meals than to skip one meal and then eat a 700-800 calorie meal.
Follow the a plant strong or whole foods plant based diet and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You hear this all the time and there is good reason. Not only do fruits and vegetables give you the vitamins and minerals you need, but they are low in calorie and high in fiber. They can fill you up so you don’t eat all the other unhealthy things. The HeartStrong.com eating plan allows you to eat as many vegetables as you like each day (provided you don’t put butter or oil on them that adds calories of course). Fruits are limited slightly, but not much. An almost unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables are allowed due to their great nutritional value, their low calorie density and the way your body digests them.