There always seems to be some sort of popular diet, trending. They all promise the same thing: an easy to follow plan, fat loss and health benefits that can only be realized by implementing this latest and greatest diet style.
If it feels like you’re always looking for then next best thing for dieting, you’re not alone. It has been shown that most Americans will at some point or another go on a diet, and statistically, 80% dieters regain the fat that they lost within a year and 85% regain it within 2 years. Making things worse, at least 1 in 3 people end up putting on more weight than they originally lost.
Why is it that diets often fail? Is it a lack of willpower? Is it a lack of a diet that ‘really’ works? Think about it for a second…how many times have you heard someone say that “diets don’t work” or “I just can’t lose body fat”. The reason for these failures is, often diets fail to educate the consumer and drastically change the way people eat. This doesn’t result in a sustainable lifestyle change but rather creates a temporary fix. In order to produce lasting results and progress, a diet must be sustainable. Here are 5 reasons that often times fad diet plans fail to deliver.
1. You Eat More Than You Think
It has been found in various research studies that many people vastly underestimate how many calories they are eating on a daily basis. One of the biggest reasons for this is the trace calories that are not accounted for in a daily diet. Such an example would include condiments, sugar containing gum, sweeteners for coffee, etc. You would be surprised just how the calories add up if you were to track any and all trace calories that are in your diet. A mere 30g of unaccounted for carbohydrates is an additional 120 calories!
2. Fad Diets Are a First Resort
What diets have you jumped on? Gluten Free? Paleo? HCG Diet? Keto Diet? Starting to sound familiar, isn’t it? There are a lot of diets that come and go and while they’re not fundamentally a “bad” diet, they often times don’t teach sustainable lifestyle changes that results in lasting effects. By temporarily changing the way people eat, it not only doesn’t teach people how to eat properly for lasting results, but often times people go back to eating how they did before the diet!
Instead, take the time to learn about nutrition such as total calorie needs, nutrient timing, good food sources and the ins and outs of protein, carbohydrates and fats. It’s a marathon for a lifestyle of a healthy body composition, not a sprint.
3. Rapid Results Are Too Appealing
Everyone hates dieting and wants to have reached their goals yesterday. Granted, instant gratification and fast results are undeniably appealing, but the truth is, if you’re dropping multiple pounds each week, you’re not going to feel very good…most likely feeling a huge lack of energy. Your body likes homeostasis and rapid drops in weight will put it in a panic state which may result in your body rebounding, increasing your chances of overeating or binge eating. Additionally, dropping calories too low, especially if cutting drastically can result in your metabolism slowing down and can cause your body to hang onto body fat rather than burn it.
Instead, focus on a manageable calorie deficit that you can maintain and won’t put your body in starvation mode. A deficit of 300-500 calories below maintenance is a good starting point and you can always adjust from there. Think of it this way: In order to lose 1lb of body fat, you must burn 3,500 calories. A 500 calorie deficit from a combination of diet and exercise a day means 1lb of fat loss a week.
4. You’re Not Flexible
The problem with some diets is they are too restrictive. Yes, you are going to have to restrict some foods from the obvious culprits: fast food, donuts, pizza, etc. However, with diets that create phobias of entire macronutrients such as low-carb or low-fat, the probability of a long-term lifestyle change that is sustainable isn’t likely.
Instead, try and focus on a balanced approach that incorporates more sustainable approaches in calorie reduction that are maintainable. Focus on when you are consuming foods just as much as what foods you are consuming. For example, try eating the majority of your carbohydrates pre and post workout, the times that your body is most demanding of them for both fueling and recovering from workouts.
5. You Don’t Take a Break
While it takes time to drop body fat and you do have to work to keep it off, don’t be in a rush. You didn’t put on 10 lbs of body fat in a few weeks, so the reverse is true, you won’t lose fat in a short period. Be patient for results and realize it will take time. Set smaller, achievable milestones along the way to your ultimate goal and even build in some planned rewards for reaching your goals.
By having small rewards that are planned for, you give yourself a mental break and help sustain your fat loss. These breaks give you a chance to mentally cleanse your palate and there is a good chance, scientifically, you could spike your metabolism with a cheat meal and keep the fat loss happening at a high rate.
Overall, remember a fat loss diet should be a lifestyle change, not a short term solution. It takes time to see results and to promote long lasting, sustainable progress.