Why Diets Fail

The Myth of the Quick-Fix Diet

We’ve all heard, (or been), the person enthusiastically preaching the latest amazing weight loss trend. “It’s so simple! The weight just melted off!” We jump on board, cursing the name of carbohydrates. We swear off all foods colored white, or dive into a 14-day cayenne pepper detox to reset our metabolism. And initially it works. We feel wonderful. Our clothes fit better. We’ve found IT.

Quick fix diets are set up for one thing…to shed weight. And most are successful in this endeavor. On average, “big brand” diets will lead us to a 5-10% weight loss over a six month period. But what happens a year from then?
UCLA psychology researcher Dr. Traci Mann headed a meta-analysis 31 long-term diet studies. Their research concluded that fewer than 5% of dieters keep the weight off after a 5-year period. Co-author Janet Tomiyama added, “Several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.” So not only is it common to gain weight back, but to gain more weight back.

Too often, we judge diet success by the amount of weight lost in the shortest amount of time. These diets often start out well, then taper as we realize we don’t feel fulfilled by our meals.We’re hungry all the time. They are often difficult to maintain in the real world. But as long as we are losing weight, we continue to consider it a successful diet. We mistake good nutrition for weight loss.
Eventually, that one simple change a month ago isn’t so simple anymore. And when we give in, there’s nowhere to go but back to the same bad eating habits we had before we started. Worst of all, we feel that we failed, rather than the diet failing us.

A healthier approach to nutrition is to understand it’s not just about the weight. While excess weight is certainly a health concern, it is better considered an outward symptom of an overall unbalanced diet. Otherwise, the only goal becomes losing weight. This often leads us into ignoring or sacrificing good nutritional practices, yo-yo dieting, and discouragement when our new diet fails.

Ongoing Nutrition You wouldn’t go to a cardio class and once you can lift 50 pounds say, “That’s good, I’ve reached my goal.” Diet should be no different. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the more group counseling sessions participants attended, the more weight they lost, and the less weight they regained. This supports the idea that not only is what you eat important, but behavioral, psychological, and social factors are important for weight loss as well.

Change Your Goals When you begin eating for health rather than solely for weight loss, your benchmarks of success should be different. By lowering indicators of chronic disease like cholesterol or blood pressure, increased endurance and energy, improved mood. A sensible amount of weight loss can also be expected from sensible eating, somewhere around 1-2 pounds a week.

Keep Moving A sedentary lifestyle is another major predictor of future weight issues. Movement is essential to physical activity, which is necessary to prevent obesity, which is responsible for at least 18% of US adult deaths. Luckily, it’s an easy fix! Make the most of your Balance Health gym membership.