woman in bathingsuit on beach

Swimsuit season is nearly here, which means it’s time to try out that latest diet, right?

Not so fast.

There’s more to weight loss than simply picking an intense diet or exercise regimen. The allure of getting a “beach body” in time for summer is a short-minded goal that undermines the true benefits of healthy weight management. Opt for long-lasting healthy habits instead of a crash diet that could harm your health or even cause you to put the weight back on even faster.

What is a “Crash Diet”?

Crash diets typically have one thing in common: they’re restrictive. By cutting calorie intake to an often extremely low level, dramatic weight loss can be seemingly achieved—even up to 10 pounds per week. This sends the body into starvation mode. Rapid weight loss makes it appear as if the crash diet is effective, only for weight loss to eventually plateau as the body is forced to conserve energy.

Not all crash diets appear so extreme at first glance. The “quick fix” approach can also include what appear to be immediate solutions and fads like cleanses, detoxes, and diet pills. In these cases as well, rapid weight loss is promised at the expense of a more long-term, balanced approach.

The Dangers of Crash Diets

An extreme diet’s initial appeal of rapid weight loss is usually followed by a period of weight gain. Drastic dieting to drop weight fast and then not maintaining that weight typically leads many to on-again, off-again dieting resulting in a “yo-yo” effect. This stop-and-start approach does not help you maintain a healthy weight and could actually lead to an increase in weight in the long run, as well as the more immediate weight gain spike.

What’s more, repeated crash dieting can weaken your immune system and damage your blood vessels, paving the way to potential heart disease.

The effects go beyond the physical. Crash dieting can take a toll on your emotional health, too. Without adequate nutrients and energy, your mood can hover between feeling tired or irritable. The constant fluctuation can also lead to more pervasive emotional effects like anorexia or other eating disorders.

Build Healthy Habits Instead

Instead of looking for a quick way to drop a few pounds, turn to slower, more consistent weight loss. This healthy approach to trim pounds typically means better long-term weight loss results.

Regular exercise along with a balanced diet can help you shed excess pounds as a pace that’s reasonable—experts recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds per week.

While it’s difficult to separate looking well and feeling well, weight loss should never just be about obtaining a seasonal look. Weight management through proper nutrition and exercise helps you live a longer, stronger, healthier life and supports positive well-being beyond donning a bikini for the summer months.

Download our guide to healthy weight loss for more healthy habits to help you lose weight the right way this summer.