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ABC Diet: Dangers & Alternatives (Ana Boot Camp Diet)

Nutrition

ABC Diet: Dangers & Alternatives (Ana Boot Camp Diet)

The Ana Boot Camp or ABC diet is dangerous. It promotes severe calorie restriction and anorexia.

Proponents of the ABC diet (called Pro-ana, as in pro-anorexia) may say that anorexia is a choice, not a disorder. Whether seen as voluntary or involuntary, anorexia is an eating disorder. A disorder is a disruption to good health. 

But let me describe in brief detail what the ABC diet looks like and healthier alternatives to weight loss.

What is the ABC diet?

The Ana Boot Camp diet is also known as the ABC diet. Ana Boot Camp seems to refer to a “boot camp” for anorexics (Ana, or Pro-ana).

On the ABC diet, you’re supposed to eat very few calories for 50 days, in order to achieve extreme weight loss. Usually it allows 400-500 calories. By the fifth day, you’re down to 100 calories. Once, the number of calories reaches 800. Then the next day is a fasting day where you eat zero calories.

It doesn’t matter what your food intake is, as long as you consume less than or equal to the prescribed amount of calories.

After 50 days, you’re supposed to slowly return to a normal diet.

Is the ABC diet safe? 

No, it is not safe. The ABC diet encourages adherents to starve themselves to lose weight.

And the ABC diet isn’t effective after the 50 days are up — you gain all the weight back!

Looking at ABC diet blogs honestly scares me. They’re predominantly written by young, vulnerable people who feel they have to be extremely skinny, to the point of risking their health, to be pretty.

“I’m 16. My goal weight is 100lbs,” one user writes before posting her personal information in the comments for someone to share the experience with her.

“I am actually underweight...I’ve lost 33lbs,” another user writes.

“I’m 5’9” 205 pounds (ew, I know),” a person comments.

Side effects of anorexia/ABC diet:

How does the ABC diet work?

The ABC diet severely restricts your calorie intake. And by switching the calorie amount every day, you’re tricking your body not to go into starvation mode — in which case the body’s metabolism would slow, actually reducing weight loss.

To lose weight, you want your metabolism to remain active and efficient. 

Though your body needs at least 1000 calories just for its involuntary daily processes, the ABC diet only allows zero to 800 calories a day. (There are six zero-calorie days and only one 800-calorie day.)

When you don’t get enough dietary calories, your body eats away at your body fat then muscles.

How much weight can you lose on the ABC diet?

In perusing the ABC diet blogs, ABC diet results definitely vary. It seems most of the people who use the diet are already underweight. Most of these people lose 10 to 20 pounds.

For those who are overweight, it would probably be 20 to 25 pounds lost.

How do people stick to the ABC diet?

This overly restrictive diet plan charts out a 50-day plan for you to follow. To stick to the ABC diet, you need to endure dangerous anorexic tendencies for more than a month and a half.

Only eating 500 calories the first day, 500 the second day, 800 on one day, no calories several times including the last day — the ABC diet is not a good short-term or long-term solution for anyone.

Does the ABC diet work for weight loss?

At the end of this 50-day diet, you will have lost a dozen or so pounds. But it is not worth it and will not last.

Not only will your body have started to exhibit symptoms of anorexia, all that weight you lost will return as soon as this dangerous low-calorie diet is over.

Healthy Alternatives to the ABC Diet

Dieting doesn’t have to be extreme. Nutrition can be as simple as A-B-C. Work with a certified healthcare provider and/or nutritionist to formulate the best meal plan-lifestyle combo for you.

The Mediterranean diet boasts fruits and veggies, nuts and legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices, extra virgin olive oil, and all the seafood you crave. And scientific paper after scientific paper reveals that the Mediterranean diet will improve your overall health while supporting a healthy weight.

Intermittent fasting is a very trendy — and research-backed — method of streamlining your metabolism and reducing inflammation. Intermittent fasting, such as only eating between 12:00 and 4:00 PM or skipping a few meals a week (but still getting a healthy amount of calories) can prevent obesity, high blood pressure, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

*If you have been diagnosed with or suffered from an eating disorder in the past, intermittent fasting is not recommended. The decision to eat only within small windows may trigger previous habits. That being said, intermittent fasting within safe boundaries can be a legitimate, health-promoting weight loss option.

A nutrient-dense diet is also important. Nutrient-dense foods are basically the opposite of empty calories. Nutrient-dense foods include organic fruits and veggies, wild-caught seafood, antibiotic-free eggs, and grass-fed meats.

In Summary

Sources

  1. Ahmed, S. (2016). Anorexia nervosa: a literature review. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 5(5), 1708. Full text: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b106/0bea722fbf8c502b7a52fe623256ccaf7788.pdf
  2. Allison, K. C., Spaeth, A., & Hopkins, C. M. (2016). Sleep and eating disorders. Current psychiatry reports, 18(10), 92. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27553980
  3. Prioletta, A., Muscogiuri, G., Sorice, G. P., Lassandro, A. P., Mezza, T., Policola, C., ... & Giaccari, A. (2011). In anorexia nervosa, even a small increase in abdominal fat is responsible for the appearance of insulin resistance. Clinical endocrinology, 75(2), 202-206. Full text: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/50834210/In_anorexia_nervosa_even_a_small_increas20161211-29029-126vg0r.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DIn_anorexia_nervosa_even_a_small_increas.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20200129%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20200129T122900Z&X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=c036fec2d25ef3becb3652435dbf9236f08fb8f804154404851ee3bd4bbc5d08
  4. Kaye, W. (2012). Mortality and eating disorders. National Eating Disorders Association. Full text: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/MortalityandEatingDisorders.pdf
  5. Papadopoulos, F. C., Ekbom, A., Brandt, L., & Ekselius, L. (2009). Excess mortality, causes of death and prognostic factors in anorexia nervosa. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 194(1), 10-17. Full text: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Excess-mortality%2C-causes-of-death-and-prognostic-in-Papadopoulos-Ekbom/9d4e7b75fcd7e8c477c42db5d03579014469e4cd
  6. Tognon, G. (2020). The science behind the Mediterranean diet. Science. Full text: https://www.gianlucatognon.com/science-of-the-mediterranean-diet/
  7. De Lorgeril, M., Salen, P., Martin, J. L., Monjaud, I., Delaye, J., & Mamelle, N. (1999). Mediterranean diet, traditional risk factors, and the rate of cardiovascular complications after myocardial infarction: final report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study. Circulation, 99(6), 779-785. Full text: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.cir.99.6.779
  8. Longo, V. D., & Mattson, M. P. (2014). Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell metabolism, 19(2), 181-192. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946160/

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