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Can Extreme Diets Improve Your Body Composition?

You may have made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight after gaining a few pounds from all the festive parties you’ve attended. If you have a disciplined routine, getting back in shape won’t be a problem. You just need to hit the gym a couple of days a week, have a healthy diet and you will see improvements in weeks.

However, some people progress very slowly when trying to achieve their weight goals despite following the same process. Because of this, some turn to extreme diets, almost starving themselves to meet their goals immediately. Sure, limiting your calorie intake below your daily energy needs can help reduce your weight quickly. But how does it really affect your body composition?

Before we proceed, what is body composition?

Body composition describes the components of your body. It can be divided into two groups: lean body mass and fat body mass. Lean body mass is made up of muscles, water and bones while fat body mass includes everything that is made of fat.

To measure your body composition, use a DEXA body scanner. This dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan can quickly and accurately show the exact breakdown of your body fat, lean tissue and bone density.

Understanding your body composition will give you insight into the condition of your body. By knowing your fat mass and fat-free mass, you can determine how you can effectively lose weight.

Ideally, you need to reduce your fat mass while maintaining or improving your lean body mass. Increasing lean muscle will make you look thinner even if you don’t actually lose weight. This is because muscle is denser than fat.

Now, is extreme dieting good or bad for your body composition?

Calories matter if you are looking to lose weight. If you take in more calories per day than the amount you burn, you will gain weight but if you burn more calories than what you consume, you will lose weight. As some people want to lose weight quickly, they may turn to a fasting-like diet. While this can help you achieve your weight goal, it also has potentially harmful side effects that can affect your physical and mental health.

What are the effects?
Malnutrition 

Malnutrition can lead to a significant reduction of essential vitamins and nutrients in your body. This can lead to various nutrient deficiencies like scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and anaemia (iron deficiency).

Dehydration

Another result is the lack of water in the body or dehydration. This may result in dry skin, as well as other conditions like constipation, constant fatigue, muscle cramps and kidney stones. It can also deplete glycogen and electrolyte levels, which can affect your bodily functions.

Bone Loss

Aside from noticing changes in your skin and muscles, your bones will also be affected when you consume a calorie-restricted diet. It may lead to bone density loss, prompting your bones to fracture more easily.

Fatigue

As this affects the balance of essential vitamins in your body, it tends to slow down physiological processes that can cause fatigue and a feeling of faintness.

Reduce your weight the safer and healthier way
Starving yourself to lose weight will just provide you with a short-term fix. It may even generate the opposite results than what you expected. Losing weight through extreme diets may cause the body to catabolise lean muscles, tissues and bones.

Instead of doing extreme diets, you can choose healthier food options. Opt for a healthy diet within a set calorie range and incorporate some strength training into your weekly routine to increase lean muscle.
​To gain an accurate measurement of your body fat percentage, rely on Bodyscan. We have the very latest, medically developed DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) technology to measure the amount of fat, lean tissue and bone in your body. Based on your Bodyscan report, you can set specific targets for body composition, instead of making vague statements about “losing weight” that are doomed to fail. Book a scan to start your fitness journey today.

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