If you are planning to take up extreme dieting or crash diets to cut that extra flab, think twice. According to a study, crash dieting would result in more belly fat and less muscle. Researchers from Georgetown University in the US showed that women are more likely than men to participate in "crash" diets.
The team examined female rats who were given 60 per cent less calorie in their diets, which is roughly comparable to reducing from a 2,000-calorie daily diet to an 800-calorie diet in humans.
The researchers found that within three days, the extremely reduced calories diet lowered body weight and caused cycling -- similar to a menstrual cycle -- to temporarily stop.
The diet also led to a decrease in a number of metabolic factors and functions, including body weight, blood volume, blood pressure, heart rate and kidney function, the findings revealed.
But returning to typical eating patterns quickly restored the metabolic functions.
Furthermore, the animals were found to have a higher accumulation of abdominal fat three months after the diet ended compared to animals that did not follow the diet.
"Even more troubling was the finding that angiotensin II -- a hormone in the body -- was more potent at increasing blood pressure in the rats that were on the reduced-calorie diet," said Aline de Souza, a post doctoral student from the varsity.
Although the rats' blood pressure levels in recovery remained normal, higher-than-normal blood pressure responses to angiotensin II may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Such changes in body composition, along with the increase in belly fat, may cause long-term health risks for people who have previously crash dieted.
The results were presented at The Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Sex-Specific Implications for Physiology conference in Tennessee, US.
(With IANS inputs)
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