With summer just around the corner, it’s likely many of us will be tempted to stray from our usual sensible diet plan and instead try something a little more extreme to quickly shift those pounds.
But while ‘miracle’ pills, patches and potions abound, the number one choice for many of us are meal replacement diets. Yes, in desperate times – we’re talking two weeks until we have to bare all on the beach – many of us are prepared to survive on just one meal each evening and fill up on strawberry shakes, tomato soup and chocolate bars during the day.
Liquid diets are notoriously low calorie, hence their appeal to dieters struggling to increase their caloric deficits and lose weight by extreme dieting alone.
Even though you’ll lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, “many studies have shown that fasts and extremely low-calorie diets invariably lower the body’ basal metabolic rate as it struggles to conserve energy. Once the dieter resumes normal eating, rapid weight gain follows”.
Here’s what actually happens – since your body is so used to consuming the calories it needs to maintain your weight, once it starts realizing that you’re no longer giving it those calories, it goes into starvation mode.
Imagine if you were stranded on a desert island without food; in order for your body to keep from shutting down completely, it would need to preserve its usable calories for as long as you can survive. Instead of expending these calories, your body holds onto them and your metabolism slows down so as not to burn them up.
Since proteins are responsible for building up our muscles after workouts, guess what happens when we stop eating protein. That’s right, you start to lose muscle mass, not fat.
When you finally start eating real food again, you won’t be sending those calories to your lost muscles to recuperate, you’ll be adding to the body’s fat stores until it decides to get out of starvation mode. And you’ll probably find you’ll gain back more weight, running the risk of gaining even more than before you started your liquid diet