Losing weight and staying in shape is the wish of the majority of people around the globe. In the fast-paced life of today, every person wants to have immediate and instant effects of their adopted diets and exercise.
In order to achieve results the fastest way possible, a number of different diet plans have emerged, some of which have gained considerable popularity in the recent years due to their visible effects in a short time.
There are many types of diets but the one that is done by most of the people to shed off extra pounds before some special event like a wedding, birthday, and other parties is crash-dieting or very low-calorie diets.
Crash diets can do wonders for a person trying to lose weight but the real question is whether they are healthy or not. A new research on the topic has looked at the effects of these crash diets particularly on heart function.
How do extremely low-calorie diets impact the body? In accordance with the National Institute of Health, these diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies and can be dangerous especially for adolescents and children.
Not only can crash dieting deprive the body of vital nutrients but can affect the body in many other negative ways including causing arrhythmia, dehydration, and weakening of the immune system.
The new study conducted by Dr. Jennifer Rayner, who is a clinical research fellow in Oxford Centre for Magnetic Resonance at Oxford University and colleagues was presented at this year’s CMR conference in Barcelona, Spain.
Dr. Rayner has also how explained the context of low-calories diet or what is also referred to as meal replacement programs and their prevalence in the past few years became the motivation for the research.
According to Dr. Rayner, crash diets are characterized by an extremely low-intake of calories with a person eating no more than 600-800 calories per day. These may be effective for controlling blood-pressure, losing weight, and reversing diabetes to an extent.
However, since the effects of crash diets on the heart had not been studied, Dr. Rayner and her colleagues decided to conduct the study and used MRI to observe the result on the functioning of the heart and fat distribution.
The researchers looked at twenty-one participants, all of who were 52 years old and obese on average. These twenty-one participants were given a low-calorie diet of around 600-800 for a time period of 8 weeks.
The team performed the magnetic resonance imaging scans at the start of the study, one week after it begun and at the end of the study.
It was observed that the body fat levels had significantly decreased within a week. In fact, the total body fat fell by an average of six points while the fat around internal organs or what is also called visceral fat decreased by 11 percent and the liver fat reduced by 42 percent.
There was also some other very important effects of the crash diet. The participants in the study also had improved insulin resistance, better blood-sugar, and blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels in their bodies.
On the contrast, the fat in the heart increased by 44 percent. This correlated with impact on heart’s ability to pump blood effectively but by the end of the study, the fat levels returned to normal and so did the heart’s functioning.
According to Dr. Rayner, changes in the body such as reduction of liver fat and reversal of diabetes caused by a low-calorie diet is expected to improve the health of the heart but the heart function tends to get worse before improving later on.
Dr. Rayner explained this happens because the fat released from different parts of the body during the diets get released into the bloodstream and is taken up by the heart muscle.
After the body successfully adjusts to the sudden change in diet, the function of the heart starts to improve. This can be great news for people but the team warns people with existing heart conditions to be cautious before starting any such diets.
People with poor heart health may experience more serious symptoms and even more, than the participants in the study did. So, it is better to diet under the supervision of a doctor.
Choosing healthier food options instead of restricting calories is often better and recommended by doctors to patients with health conditions and to people in general.