But beyond the short-term misery, could crash dieting do long-term damage? In the research world, the closest comparison is the VLCD (very-low-calorie diet), which involves eating 800 calories or fewer per day – usually as a liquid diet shake with added vitamins and minerals. VLCDs are only recommended under medical supervision and for 12 weeks at the most. Spoiler alert: they lead to weight loss – but that’s not all. In a 2016 review by the Obesity Science & Practice journal, researchers reported fatigue, dizziness, cold intolerance and hair loss as key side effects, as well as an inflated risk of developing more serious issues, such as gallstones. Long-term complications can also arise from a lack of basic nutrients.
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