The dark side of deadline dieting

Every year in the lead up to the Victoria’s Secret catwalk parade, there’s inevitably a lot of interest in just how the VS Angels prepare their bodies to strut down the runway in lingerie, their boobs, bellies and butts all bared for the world to see.

10:9AM, Nov 8

Last year, model Adriana Lima revealed the extreme regime she follows in the lead-up to the show:  working out twice a day and drinking only protein shakes for nine days before the big reveal, and then "no liquids at all” for the last 12 hours before the show, as she told the UK's Telegraph.

But it’s this sort of ‘deadline dieting’ – severely limiting your intake of food in the lead up to a particular event – that worries nutritionist Jessica Tzvetkoff.

"Crash diets are very dangerous for you, and are highly unsuccessful in terms of long-term weight loss. When you exclude whole food groups from your diet and deprive your body of essential nutrients, your metabolism slows down
as your body tries to hold onto body fat to prevent you from starving."

The problem is, deadline dieting can be tempting as it can work in the short term. But Tzvetkoff says don’t be fooled.

"Even if you do lose weight initially, it is often water weight rather than fat and the results are not sustainable. Also, deadline dieting is not glamorous! It can cause dehydration, heart palpitations, diarrhoea, dizziness and irritability.

"And that’s just in the short term; longer-term effects can increase your risk of heart disease as well as kidney and liver conditions."

Also, studies have shown as soon as you switch back to your regular eating habits (and you will – no-one can live on lettuce for the rest of their lives), you will not only put the weight back on, you may gain more.

Tzvetkoff says that to lose weight for an event the healthy and sustainable way, it’s important to give yourself enough time to do so.

 "Twelve to 20 weeks is a realistic time to lose weight and keep it off for life; 0.5 to 1kg per week is a realistic weight loss goal."

Want to know how to look and feel awesome for your next big occasion the healthy way? Check out page 157 of the November issue of CLEO (with Lara Bingle on the cover) for our top tips.

By Jessica Martin and Erin Van Der Meer

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