Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Diets Don't Work!

You’ve seen the Weight Watchers commercial where they say their famous phrase about diets not working. Well, they’re right! I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it another 10 or 15 million times throughout my career. Technically, the word “diet” is just supposed to describe what you eat, good or bad. However, it has a completely different meaning in today’s world. Diets often mean deprivation, no treats, a lot of vegetables, calorie restriction, quick weight loss, and quick weight gain. That’s right, after all of that yucky stuff; dieters almost always gain the weight back. Studies show that weight loss really isn’t a problem for most people, but weight maintenance takes great skill. If you’re trying to lose weight, take a look at this list. If you find that any of these points describe your “diet”, rethink your direction and consider changing your approach.

Your diet….

1. is too calorically restrictive. Generally people want fast results so they often eat too few calories. Not only is this impossible to maintain forever, but it slows your metabolism.

2. restricts a particular food group. You should never swear off all protein, all carbs, or all fat. Each nutrient is vital to your organ systems, disease prevention, and well-being. A healthy diet, which can result in weight loss, includes all food groups.

3. requires you to skip meals. This is just like shooting yourself in the foot when you’re trying to lose weight. Frequent eating is important in order to keep your metabolism going. Also, people who skip meals often overeat at the next one.

4. includes drinking shakes. Any type of “magical” formula that promises to help you lose weight or is considered a “meal replacement” is not the way to go. Losing weight isn’t magic and at some point you’re going to want to eat normal food. Even if you do lose weight on one of these plans, chances are, you’ll gain it back when you eat normal food again.

5. includes weight-loss pills. Even the pills that are prescribed by a doctor typically don’t last on the market long. They often end up being deemed unsafe and are taken off the market. Do you really want to take your chances? Plus, they are, again, a short-term fix.

The only long-term fix is a lifestyle change. That means taking on new habits that you can live with. Yes, the process is longer; however, would you prefer to lose weight fast and gain it back five or six more times in the next 10 years, or lose it once and never see it again?


  1. I agree from personal experience that lifestyle change is the only way to go for long-lasting results. Nutrition, cardio, and strength training form the "3-legged stool" for that lifestyle change, and you need to pay attention to all 3 areas to make it work. Even with that, it's still a constant battle.

  2. and I must have taken the same motivational interviewing class. The "3-legged stool" is a good one. I LOVE this post. All points are very good and I am remembering the phrase you told me once, is a "healthy eating regime", but also a healthy exercise regime that keeps us on track. I just have to do it-do it-do it!

  3. I run into the problem of wanting to lose weight fast and thinking that I can maintain it in the long run. Trying to keep it to 0.5 to 1 lb per week of wieght loss seems to work better instead of trying for the 2.5 to 3 lbs/week. I feel like I have less cravings, so it is easier to not overindulge at times.

  4. All so true! Slow and steady wins the race!

  5. Busy-Dad-E: Very true. And you're right, some people will always struggle more than others. Luckily, as you know, it can be done, but it takes finding the tactics that work for you.
    Erin'sMom: Keep up the good work!
    Matt: Great point! If you don't deprive yourself, you're a lot less likely to go overboard and gain the weight back. It is always good to allow yourself to enjoy your food, but to be moderate in your portion sizes. This is definitely better for weight loss!
    Mom-E: Yes, so be like a turtle!