The newest fad diets may promise weight loss, but they may also affect your heart. Crash diets can increase heart deterioration, according to new research presented at a recent meeting of the European Society of Cardiology . The study followed participants who ate restrictive diets with no more than 800 calories a day. They found that while body fat and liver fat decreased, after one week heart fat content had risen by 44 percent. This was associated with deterioration in heart function, including the heart’s ability to pump blood.
Researchers theorized that the sudden drop in calories caused fat to be released from different parts of the body into the blood, which is then taken up by the heart muscle.
The good news is that heart function improved by the end of the study and surpassed what it was before the study began. However, in people with existing heart problems - who may or may not know they have a heart condition - the crash diet may worsen their condition. They may experience shortness of breath or increase the risk of arrhythmias. The study’s authors recommend that people with heart disease should check with their doctor first before starting a crash diet.