Hungry woman

Why Crash Diets Are Bad For Your Skin

There are so many different forms of crash diets out there, from liquid fasts to drastically cutting back on the calories that you consume. While it is possible to lose weight while on a crash diet, they come with smany negative effects, causing problems not only within your body, but also on your skin.

Sagging Skin

Crash diets work by giving the body a bit of a shock with the lack of food, sending it into starvation mode. Often, results can be seen in just a few days, but, while the numbers may be dropping on the scale, it is not fat that you are losing.

Instead, crash diets signal to your body to store its fat reserves, and to burn lean tissue to make up for this, as lean tissue also burns much more quickly and effectively. This also causes a loss of lean body mass and water, which is why such a significant result is often experienced so early on in the process.

This loss of muscle, as well as the tissues around them, happens so quickly that your skin does not have enough time to adjust to the new shape of the structure beneath it.

The results of this are areas of sagging and loose skin.

This is exacerbated even more if you end up yo-yo dieting. This is when you follow a crash diet and quickly lose weight, but then put the weight back on just as quickly. In order to deal with this, another crash diet is followed, and the cycle just repeats itself.

With your skin having to constantly stretch and tighten over short periods of time, this causes a loss of skin elasticity, as well as stretch marks.

Nutritional Deficiencies

When you are on a crash diet, you will be severely limiting the number of calories that you consume on a daily basis, with some diets requiring you to eat no more than 700 calories per day. Not only that, but whole food groups are often completely removed from the diet for a set period of time.

As you can imagine, this means that your body will not be acquiring all of the nutrients that it needs each day. If you are working with a dietician, this may not be such an issue, as you will be taught which other foods, or supplements, you need to be consuming in order to balance out your nutritional requirements.

However, for everyone who has decided to follow a crash diet on their own, nutritional deficiencies are extremely common.

What does this mean for your skin?

Well, being your body’s largest organ, your skin most definitely needs certain nutrients to survive, and even more to thrive. Many of the vitamins and minerals that your skin needs are not actually produced by the body, meaning that they need to be coming from your diet.

Here are some of the symptoms that you will experience on your skin from being deficient in certain nutrients:

  • Vitamin A Deficiency: dry skin, facial acne, and red or white bumps on your body
  • Vitamin C Deficiency: dry skin, slow wound healing, and easy bruising
  • Vitamin E Deficiency: acne, blisters, and stretch marks
  • B Vitamins Deficiency: puffiness around the eyes, pale skin and dandruff
  • Essential Fatty Acids Deficiency: dry, itchy, scaly or flaky skin, as well as eczema, small bumps on the body, slow wound healing and cracking skin on the fingertips 
  • Calcium Deficiency: dry skin and psoriasis
  • Zinc Deficiency: acne, eczema, stretch marks, dandruff and more

Less Energy

One of the side effects that comes from severely restricting your calorie intake is that you end up having so much less energy.

woman asleep at work

Those who are on a crash diet tend to exercise far less, as food is the main energy source for your body. When you start depriving it of food, your body begins to conserve its energy. This makes even the simplest of tasks seem like a huge challenge, so you can only imagine how off-putting the idea of working out while on a crash diet would be!

Wondering how this affects your skin?

Well, exercise is actually one of the best things that you can do for your skin!

To begin with, exercise increases your blood circulation, which boosts the amount of blood, oxygen, and therefore nutrients, that enter into your skin cells. This leads to a much healthier-looking complexion, thanks to this oxygenated blood.

Physical activity also helps with acne, because exercise stimulates the body’s natural detoxification process, pulling out the toxins from your skin. Of course, you do need to ensure that you shower after exercising, in order to wash these toxins away and stop them from settling back into your pores. 

As you likely already know, stress, and the hormone cortisol that comes with it, is extremely damaging to your skin. Exercise is something that not only reduces stressful feelings, but also reduces the amount of cortisol flowing through your blood, helping to relax you and soothe your skin.

With less energy, and therefore less exercise, your skin would not be experiencing any of these benefits, and you may even find yourself with a dull, sallow complexion, with frequent acne breakouts.

Exercise is also important when following a diet in order to make sure that your body is burning fat, rather than muscle mass. Without exercise, the sagging skin side effect, also becomes even more exacerbated.

Higher Stress Levels

Crash diets can be extremely difficult to follow, which is hardly surprising considering that they are not a natural way for your body to survive.

The challenges that you will face while following a crash diet will no doubt end up affecting you on a psychological level.

Constantly seeing foods that you cannot eat, but watching others eat them, will soon have you feeling miserable, while the lack of nutrients will leave you easily irritable and tired.

stressed woman

All of this causes higher stress levels, resulting in the hormone cortisol running through the body, which affects the skin in a few different ways:

  • Dryness and dullness, due to cortisol damaging the way in which the skin is able to retain moisture 
  • Fine lines, due to cortisol triggering an increase in blood sugar levels, which damages the collagen and elastin that were otherwise keeping your skin smooth
  • Redness because of an increase in blood flow that occurs during stress, causing an expansion of capillaries

Sleep Deprivation

Many people are unable to fall asleep at night when they are feeling extremely hungry, and hunger is something that you will definitely be feeling quite a bit of when following a crash diet.

Not only does the feeling of hunger keep you awake, but any sort of change in the quality of your diet can lead to sleepless nights.


In many ways…

For example, the new foods that you will be eating, as well as all the foods that you will not be eating, will likely cause digestive discomforts that could keep you up at night. You may also end up turning to caffeinated beverages more throughout the day, to compensate for your lack of energy, and all of this caffeine will make it much harder for you to fall asleep at night.

This lack of quality sleep affects your skin in a number of ways:

  • Dark circles, which are caused by the lack of sleep causing blood vessels underneath the eyes to dilate
  • Eye bags, caused by excess fluid underneath the eyes
  • Red eyes are also caused by dilated blood vessels, resulting in the eyes appearing to be bloodshot
  • Breakouts become much more common, due to the lack of sleep causing stress within the body
  • Wrinkles and sagging skin are another side effect, due to sleep deprivation leading to a loss of collagen, and therefore a reduction in skin elasticity
  • Accelerated skin aging, which is again caused by the loss of collagen

Cravings and Binge Eating

As mentioned above, your body goes into starvation mode when on a crash diet, and this then causes your brain to temporarily shut down any food cravings, to help you to deal with this starvation mode.

However, as soon as you feed your body at your next meal, your brain kicks into action, sending signals to the rest of your body to eat as much food as possible while it is available. In a moment of weakness, this can easily lead to a binge eating session, causing you to fall off of your diet plan.

When it comes to your skin, binge eating can cause many of the problems mentioned above, from an increase in stress to weight fluctuations that lead to loose, sagging skin.

Are There Any Benefits That a Crash Diet Can Bring to the Skin?

In a way, there is one big benefit that a crash diet can bring to the skin…

Many crash diets require you to stop eating processed foods, and replace these with more fruits and vegetables. This is something that many people tend not to eat enough of with the modern day diet, so increasing your intake of fresh foods can definitely be beneficial.

However, this is something that you do not need a crash diet for, as there are much healthier ways to lose weight while improving the health of your body and skin at the same time. Weight loss actually works so much better when it is done at a gradual pace, and this also makes it much easier to sustain, meaning that you will not go bouncing back to your original weight in a few weeks.

Wondering how to go about losing weight in a safe and sustainable way?

The key here is the combination of a balanced diet and moderate regular exercise.

A safe way to diet is…

Slowly reducing the amount of calories you are consuming, ensuring that you do not cut out whole food groups. By slowly, rather than quickly, reducing calorie intake, you will be encouraging your body to burn stored fat, rather than lean muscle.

Simple adjustments in your diet can also help, such as swapping “white” versions of carbohydrates for whole grain ones. These contain less sugar and more nutrients, and will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

As mentioned above, fresh foods are also important when it comes to dieting. You should try to aim for around 80% of your plate to be made up of fresh produce, making use of a rainbow of colors, as each color relates to a different range of nutrients. 

When it comes to exercise…

This all depends on how quickly you are looking for results.

For a slow and modest weight loss goal, you should be doing 150 to 250 minutes of moderate intensity exercises each week. For a more significant weight loss, aim for over 250 minutes a week, although, if you are combining this with an improvement in your diet, 250 minutes should still be enough. 

woman exercising with dumb bells

Wondering what a moderate intensity exercise is?

This differs between individuals, and depends on your own fitness levels. But, basically, you should be breathing deeply, but not gasping for breath, with your body feeling as though it is working hard, but not so hard that it wants to give up

Of course, high-intensity workouts are also fantastic for weight loss, and are the most efficient way to lose weight. However, you need to already be healthy and active before trying high-intensity exercises, otherwise you risk causing damage to your body, and may require quite a few days to recover from each session.

While crash diets may seem tempting, they are definitely not a healthy way to lose weight. Not only do they cause problems with your skin, but they also negatively affect the rest of your body. Rather than losing weight in this way, try to opt for a slower and more sustainable weight loss plan too, as this will also encourage you to make healthy improvements in other aspects of your life as well.

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