Here’s Why Crash Diets Might Derail Your Heart Health

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Everyone wants a beach-ready body, and many are willing to starve themselves to achieve it quickly. But new research suggests that fat lost on crash diets may clog the heart and reduce its function.

The good news is that this effect appears temporary. And for healthy people, there probably aren’t any ill effects, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Jennifer Rayner.

However, the study researchers are concerned that the fat migration could pose a problem for people who already have heart issues.

For someone who’s obese, Rayner said, “the health benefits of losing weight are huge. But at the moment, we need to do some more research to make sure that these diets are safe in people with heart disease.”

She is a clinical research fellow at the University of Oxford in England.

Very-low-calorie diets — approximately 600 to 800 calories a day — are an effective method of weight loss and a way to quickly reduce liver fat and reverse diabetes, the researchers said.

In the current study, the investigators asked 21 obese people to consume meal replacements — special milkshakes or soups — designed to provide 800 or fewer calories daily for eight weeks.

Participants’ average age was 52. Their average body mass index (BMI) was 37. BMI is an estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. A normal BMI is 19.9 to 24.9, while overweight is 25 to 29.9. A BMI of 30 and over is considered obese, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. For someone who is 5 feet 9 inches tall, a BMI of 30 is over 203 pounds.

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SOURCES: Jennifer Rayner, M.D., clinical research fellow, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., co-director, Preventative Cardiology Program, University of California, Los Angeles; Feb. 2, 2018 presentation, European Society of Cardiology meeting, Barcelona, Spain

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