10 ways chronic dieting for weight loss harms body

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 18 Jan, 2024 07:00 | 3 mins read
A young woman eating. PHOTO/Print
Portrait of an african american woman eating pizza at outdoor restaurant. PHOTO/Print

Chronic dieting, a condition when a person restricts calorie intake in his or her diet on a regular basis mainly to reduce weight is becoming more common in today’s world.

It is camouflaged as a path to great wellness and health. But this is far from the truth. Milliam Murigi explores how  it affects us physically and psychologically 

1. Slows metabolism

Whether you follow a low-fat, low carb or low-glycemic diet, all diets are associated with varying degrees of calorie restriction. When you reduce your calorie intake, your metabolism adjusts itself to the lower energy intake.

Metabolism is the biochemical process that converts food into energy.

Chronic dieting slows metabolism because it is associated with a decrease in muscle tissue and a decrease in thyroid hormone production. The thyroid plays a crucial role regulating the body’s metabolism.

It produces hormones that influence the rate at which your body uses energy.

2. Increases cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. Too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of getting heart and circulatory diseases.

Chronic dieting leads to high cholesterol levels since it slows metabolism leading to high body fat percentage.

Studies have shown that excessive accumulation of body fat increases the risk of high cholesterol levels among other negative health effects.

3. It causes eating disorders

Cutting back on calories is the easiest and simplest way to lose weight. However, when you stop taking or reduce your calories intake, the body always fights back in predictable ways such as rising hunger.

This forces one to have irregular or unhealthy eating habits and in the long run, it leads to eating disorders. 

4. Leads to an imbalance in body water and fluids

The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. Water forms the basis of blood, digestive juices, urine and perspiration, and is contained in lean muscle, fat and bones.  

Food plays a vital role in maintaining hydration by replenishing lost sodium, electrolytes and amino acids while eating also encourages fluid consumption by triggering thirst.

Chronic dieting has been associated with an imbalance in body water and fluids resulting in dehydration.

5. Triggers hypertension

Studies have demonstrated that high cholesterol levels associated with chronic dieting leads to increased risk of hypertension.

High cholesterol and hypertension are also among a cluster of conditions that together are called metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome raises your risk for diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke

6. Increases insulin resistance

Chronic dieting increases the risk of insulin resistance, a condition that occurs when your body cannot efficiently use the insulin it naturally produces.

Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and for those who already have diabetes, it makes the condition far more difficult to manage.

7. Reduces production of leptin

Leptin regulates energy levels by maintaining a balance between hunger and appetite.

The hormone triggers the body to respond by eating more when energy levels are low and eating less when energy levels are stable or high.  

Studies have shown that chronic dieting reduces leptin production, which signals intense, uncontrolled hunger and food consumption.

8. Leads to depression and mental stress

Continuously denying yourself your favourite food items can also psychologically affect a person causing depression and mental stress.

Chronic dieters may often experience mood swings. They may snap at people who offer them food, stay away from parties or attend parties and stay hungry because they are on diet and can’t stand people eating their favourite food items.

They may feel depressed thinking they lack something and generally feel worthless and dull when they don’t reach their desired weight goal.

9. Leads to nutritional deficiencies

Some weight loss diets restrict certain nutrients such as carbohydrates or complete food groups such as dairy.

When you are not eating a well-balanced meal, you are likely missing some essential nutrients that can lead to micronutrient deficiencies.

10. Increases the risk of kidney stones

Chronic dieting involving elimination of food groups such as dairy increases the risk of calcium deficiency. A diet low in calcium increases the chances of developing conditions such as kidney stones.

Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a substance made daily by your liver or absorbed from your diet.

Oxalate is one type of substance that can form crystals in the urine. This can happen if there is too much oxalate, too little liquid, and the oxalate “sticks” to calcium while urine is being made by the kidneys.

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