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Aaron Sta Maria
Written by Aaron Sta Maria

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

Excessive Dieting to Deal with Weight Gain: Here are the Health Risks

Adopting a crash diet that reverses weight gain can come with negative consequences. It may also make you susceptible to heart diseases.

Woman wrapping a measuring tape around her exposed abdomen

Are you eating less in an attempt to shed the pounds but to no avail? Or worse, are you still experiencing weight gain, even after trying numerous ways — including starving yourself — to maintain a healthy body weight? 

More often than not, these outcomes will cause you to start dieting even more than you already are. It may induce rapid weight loss but may also increase your risk of regaining weight easily if you’re not careful. It can also make you vulnerable to heart disease.

Besides, dieting might also make you:

  • Purge ad binge eat, which might develop an eating disorder
  • Restrict food intake 
  • Have poor physical health 
  • Have anxiety or depression

Here are two phenomena that can occur with a drastic change in your eating pattern as well as some ways to achieve an ideal weight.

Man with excessive weight lifting a dumbbell into the air with his right hand
The combination of too much dieting and exercise can have a yo-yo effect on the body.

A Combination of Too Much Exercise and Excessive Dieting 

Adopting these habits will result in your body mistaking that it’s in a state of starvation. Generally, the food you consume will mix with acids and enzymes in the stomach. Upon digestion, the carbohydrates in food will be broken down into and become a type of sugar called glucose.

Glucose will be absorbed by the stomach and small intestines and released into the bloodstream. Your body will either utilise glucose for energy or store it for later use.

However, since starvation mode increases the usage of fat for energy, this induces the body to lower its metabolic rate in compensation to prevent fat loss, resulting in an accumulation of excess glucose which is not utilised and is stored as fats.

Simply put, this can trigger a yo-yo effect that sees your body weight going up and down quickly.

Extreme Dieting and Zero Exercise 

Each person has an individual basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR can be described as the minimum amount of energy required to perform functions like breathing and delivering oxygen throughout the body.

When you diet, regardless of whether you exercise or not, muscles will be broken down only after carbohydrates and fats have been depleted. However, a lack of exercise generally causes muscles to be broken down when they are not in use, to conserve energy. Dieting may result in insufficient protein consumed to build muscle. Hence, all these results in muscle loss.

It is worth noting that the consumption of energy from muscles is higher than fat. Consequently, this will lower the amount of energy consumed and encourage fat accumulation when excess energy is not utilised.

Woman sleeping on a blue-coloured pillow and covered with a duvet of the same colour
Good sleep has a central role in reversing weight gain.

How to Maintain a Healthy Body Weight 

Studies show that pairing a balanced diet with regular physical activity promotes healthy weight loss. On the contrary, relying solely on a dietary switch will make you susceptible to:  

  • Emotional disarray 
  • Hair fall 
  • A menstrual disorder 
  • An endocrine disorder 
  • Poor sleep quality 
  • Dull-looking skin or complexion 

Engage in physical activity  

Frequent exercise is one of the best ways to lose or maintain weight the healthy way, as physical activity raises the number of calories your body uses for energy.

However, it’s worth noting that exercise alone will be ineffective for weight loss. It is recommended that you combine workout routines with the consumption of low-calorie food. This creates a calorie deficit that triggers weight loss without the loss of muscle.

Get sound sleep 

Hormones play a central role in modulating or increasing your appetite, and sleep plays a vital role in regulating hormone levels. Poor sleep increases the level of the hormone responsible for hunger and decreases the level of the hormone responsible for feeling full, leading to an increase in appetite.

Sleep disruption can also affect brain activity and enhance the way we view food as a positive reward, stimulating an increased desire for food. Hence, proper sleep is necessary for the normal functioning of the body. It is also vital for recovery and performing biological processes.

Acupuncture treatment activates the release of melatonin hormone which promotes better sleep quality. Applying pressure to ear acupressure points, aids appetite adjustment.

Consume nutritious foods 

Fruits and vegetables are an abundant source of fat and fibre, whilst also being low in calories. Increasing your intake of these foods can stimulate weight loss by helping you stay full for a longer period of time. It can also supplement your body with vitamins and minerals. You may also choose to drink a whey protein beverage to ensure adequate nutritional support as you go through your weight-loss journey.  

Meanwhile, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), states that optimal weight loss can happen if you consume foods that remove dampness. Bitter and sour foods have a sharp taste and smell and can help control appetite and improve digestion.

Bitter foods increase bile production, lower insulin resistance and assist liver detoxification. Sour foods such as lemon can reduce belly fat. Herbal ingredients such as astragalus (Huangqi, 黃芪), Poria (Fuling, 茯苓) and lotus leaf (Heye, 荷叶) can enhance fat burning by improving body metabolism.

Ultimately, crash eating regimes will negatively impact the body and bring about faster weight gain. As such, it is advisable for you to adhere to a lifestyle that involves consistent and positive lifestyle practices. Doing so will enable you to become slimmer and minimise your proneness to chronic illnesses. If you wish to use herbal ingredients, do speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand.

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