Walk down any magazine aisle or the health section of the bookstore, and you will see a wide array of articles and books that discuss one diet or another.
Some will be about comparing certain diets, and which one is best. Food stores have foods, shakes, and multiple products to add to your plan, social media is crawling with ads for them. It’s natural to want to try one to get to your goal weight because they claim to do it quickly
But while diets give us great expectations, the reality is that they don’t work. Maybe in the short term, they do lose weight for that special event or whatever the case may be, but in the long run, they aren’t as successful.
People tend to gain the weight back, and then some. According to a study by Rena Wing and Suzanne Phelan in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only 20 percent of people were successful at maintaining weight loss. Going on a diet (and we’re talking restrictive diets) might be a quick fix but it can lead to issues and more weight gain in the future.
Read on to see 5 more reasons why diets don’t generally work.
They are too restrictive
Dieting generally means cutting things out of our daily lives and restricting things that we truly enjoy. It means cutting calories down drastically, maybe even doing a juice cleanse. At some point, you’re going to break and want to eat a slice of cake one day, or a cookie, or a piece of cheese, and then will just continue because depriving ourselves is not ideal.
Choosing a “diet” that will last is not choosing a diet at all, it’s choosing a lifestyle change that you can maintain long term which includes having that cookie that you want occasionally. Deprivation is never the answer to long-term success, which is why restrictive diets don’t work.
You haven’t done the mental work
We focus so much on the physical work, what to eat and not eat, that we don’t actually look at how mentally prepared we are to actually lose weight. Regardless of what diet you choose (again, restrictive diets don’t work), you have to be mentally ready to actually lose the weight, to make changes to your life for the better.
If you just want to lose weight and don’t look at the stress in your life, mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or anything in between), then you can’t truly be ready. Without acknowledging and dealing with these things it’s impossible to change the physical being.
It might work for a short period of time, but any form of stress or trigger can lead to the same habits and weight gain. If you are suffering from a mental health condition, seek help, and then after you get your mind healthy you can get your body healthy.
You didn’t take into account changing biology
Starting a diet is amazing, the weight just melts off. But what else happens in the background? Your body processes are changing, especially with restrictive diets. The metabolism slows and makes it even harder to lose weight.
When that happens, we get discouraged, the scale doesn’t move, we feel like failures (we are way too hard on ourselves) and we give up. Instead of crash dieting, it’s important to go slowly and give our bodies a chance to get used to what is happening.
You aren’t getting enough sleep
Sleep is important in so many areas of our lives. If you don’t get enough sleep, the body can no longer process insulin efficiently, which is needed to change sugar, starches, and other foods into energy according to WebMD. When this happens, the body stores the fat. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to helping your body help you.
Diets are temporary
A diet is not meant to be a permanent solution to weight loss. Diet companies make money by consumers coming back repeatedly in the yo-yo process. In order to have lasting changes, there needs to be a lifestyle change, changes in habits and nutrition, learning about what works best for your specific body, and creating something sustainable that you truly enjoy.
Diets are restrictive, they don’t let you live and while the beginning stages can be impressive, if you don’t have the skills and knowledge to keep it off (such as a healthy balanced diet that CAN include a sweet treat or pizza or whatever you like) then the diet will fail because new habits haven’t been formed.
In the long run, instead of running to a diet to lose weight at a rapid pace, make lasting changes to your lifestyle to enjoy weight loss that can be maintained for life.