Here’s why you’re likely to put on more weight when on a crash diet.
Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”, is the reason why you eat more during crash diets! (Photo: darkbird / www.123rf.com)
Before the current popular fad diets like juice cleanse, raw food diet and teatox, there were crash diets where you could only eat fruits, only drink soup, diet or cut out all carbohydrates. In theory, the logic behind each crash diet sounds legit but science doesn’t back it up.
Crash diets don’t work because…
When you deprive yourself of necessary nutrients, your body reacts by releasing more of the hormone ghrelin to prevent you from slipping into starvation mode. The result? Binge fest!
Produced by cells lining the stomach, ghrelin (also known as the “hunger hormone”) surges just before mealtime. Simply put, it revs up your appetite so that you’ll know it’s time to eat.
Abnormally high levels of ghrelin can spark off your craving for high-calorie food and trick you into eating more even though you’re full, says Dr Tan. Like cortisol, it increases belly fat formation.
Instead of crash diets, do this:
1. Avoid missing meals
A 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that eating less than three times a day could cause a rise in ghrelin levels. If you don’t have time to cook or usually do takeaways at work, consider these healthy takeaways or nutritious meal subscriptions.
2. Maintain a well-balanced diet
Forget the fad diets. Instead, aim to have protein with healthy carbs at each meal. The recommended portion is half a plate of fruits and vegetables, a quarter proteins (meat and others, like tofu) and a quarter wholegrains (like brown rice and wholemeal bread), according to Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB). Read more on HPB’s My Health Plate here.
3. Hit the gym
Work out to suppress the hormone. Weight training is effective at keeping hunger pangs at bay during and after the workout. Need more help? Here are quick guides on what to eat before exercise, foods during work outs and even post-training meals!