Heart dangers of crash dieting
Millions of us have done it…Gone on a crash diet ahead of a wedding, a big vacation or to squeeze back into our favorite jeans. But new guidelines recently released by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology suggest crash dieting is bad for your heart.
In a press conference announcing the new recommendations, the group said that lifestyle changes should be the goal and not lifestyle dieting.
“Our recommendation is that doctors prescribe a diet to achieve reduced caloric intake as part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention,” said one of the guideline’s co-authors.
The recommendations suggest that diets be tailored to patient preferences and any medications they are taking, and include face-to-face behavioral counseling in order to lead to any “clinically meaningful health improvement.” The most effective programs, the group said, includes two to three meetings a month for at least six months or more.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. And the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 150 million American adults are considered overweight or obese. Dr. Vincent Bufalino, vice president of cardiovascular services at Advocate Health Care, said it’s important that people understand the link between obesity and heart disease—specifically that being overweight puts you at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and early death.
“Some of the simplest lifestyle changes can benefit our hearts in major ways,” said Dr. Bufalino. “Partnering with your physician to determine an exercise plan that works best for you and taking small steps such as reducing stress in addition to cutting out other bad habits like smoking can go a long way to keep your heart healthy.”
Bufalino also said that weight loss can help lower your blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol levels, which can reduce the need for medication to manage heart health.
“Education is very important,” he said. “Many patients may not even know their considered overweight.”
This is best determined by having your body-mass index (BMI) assessed. BMI measures your body fat based on your weight and height; a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight. Waist circumference is also a good indicator of risk.
- Fasting blood sugar and Hgb A1C (hemoglobin) to measure diabetes risk
- Total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglyceride levels
- Blood pressure
- Weight (or body mass index)
As part of its commitment to help empower patients to know their heart risks, Advocate Health Care recently debuted its own heart tool that tells patients in less than five minutes their heart health risk. The tool is backed by a promise that if you take the test and are determined to be at high risk, an Advocate cardiologist will see you within 24 hours.
Daily heart health
On its website, the AHA also offers these five tips to help ensure you keep a watchful eye on your diet and heart every day:
- Limit your total fat intake to less than 25–35 percent of your daily calories
- Limit your saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories
- Limit your trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories
- Get your fat from sources that contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as unsalted nuts seeds, fish (especially oily fish, such as salmon, trout and herring, at least twice per week)
- Limit your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day. However, if you have coronary heart disease or your LDL cholesterol level is 100 mg/dL or greater, limit your cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams a day.
Want more heart health info? Visit iheartadvocate.com.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.