Unless you’ve been going through a digital detox for the last decade, then you’ve likely seen dozens upon dozens of diet challenge posts online and especially on your social media. Everyone from celebrities to your friends and family are trying these temporary strategies meant to get fast results, jumpstart a healthier lifestyle or otherwise benefit your health or weight loss.
That said, as much as a diet challenge often seems like a great idea, they’re not without their downsides. In fact, many of them can actually be harmful as opposed to being helpful.
Just because some types of diet challenge can be risky, it doesn’t mean they should all be avoided. The key is to be very cautious and talk to a health care provider before doing anything that involves a significant change from your current lifestyle.
For instance, if you plan to significantly cut carbs, cut out all sugar, substantially reduce fat intake, go meatless, or even amp up your workouts while you change what you eat, these can all create notable changes in your body. For some people, these changes may be safe. Make sure you’re in that group of people before you make the changes. Unless you’re a nutrition expert, you may not even realize how much impact certain simple and healthy-sounding changes can have.
The very nature of a diet challenge is to do something over the short term. Unfortunately, most research shows that anything that doesn’t have the long-term in mind comes with risks of harm. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will place your life in danger, but the harm can still be very frustrating.
For instance, if you take on a diet challenge that greatly reduces your caloric intake or that changes your usual macronutrient balance, you may see impressive results while you’re doing it. However, after the 10 days or 30 days of your challenge, returning to a regular healthy lifestyle can cause your weight to balloon back on again.
Sending your body these types of mixed messages can work against your ability to lose weight or maintain your weight loss. When you shift the way your body burns fat, how much energy you provide it through food, or the nature of the food you’re eating, your metabolism changes in order to respond to it. Over the short term, that can mean great news. However, afterward you may end up seeing not only the weight you lost, but some additional pounds as well.
Be extremely selective about the diet challenge you take on and inform yourself before you begin.