Why Diets Don't Work
So you’re looking in the mirror and have decided there’s too much wiggle when you jiggle – we’ve all been there. You make a personal promise to do something about it and start asking around the office to find out what diet everyone else is trying, or take a look on Google to see what’s hot and healthy in hollywood right now.
Einstein once said ‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.
Why is this quote relevant to dieting? Because it’s exactly what people do. They ‘go on a diet’, lose weight, come off ‘the diet’, put the weight back on (plus some more), then go back to the same plan or one that’s similar a few months down the line.
The cycle continues.
When someone goes on a diet and loses a massive amount of weight in a short amount of time, they walk away thinking that diet is successful. But when they put all that weight back on, they unfortunately think they’re the problem, not the diet.
I’m going to address some of the reasons why these systems fail and offer some solutions to the lifelong results you desire.
SHORT TERM SOLUTION
MISTAKE: Eliminating food groups or replacing real food with bars and shakes.
The fitness industry is full of detoxes, pills and potions. These will give you fast ‘weight loss’. But it’s the wrong type of weight loss, comprised of water and muscle, not fat.
Carbohydrates are really good at holding water inside your body, so removing them induces fast water loss. Drastically dropping calories – by removing carbs – will move your body into survival starvation mode. Here, your body will start eating its muscle for nutrients and hold onto as much fat as possible, as fat is calorie dense and your body is holding out for survival as long as possible.
Your body will start to shut down in an attempt to preserve energy. Your metabolism and thyroid will slow down so your body will use less calories than normal. Your hormones will also get thrown out of whack, with fat storing hormones stepping up to encourage any food eaten to be stored as fat.
All in all, because your energy expenditure has drastically shut down, when you finish this short term solution and eat some normal food your body is not equipped to use the sudden surplus of energy and you gain more weight than before.
TOO STRICT A SOLUTION
MISTAKE: Doing a massive diet and lifestyle overhaul that’s far too different to what your body is used to.
Another common mistake people make is running before they can crawl, never mind walk.
People are in too much of a rush to get results, trying to reverse 11 months of bad choices in 30 days.
Let’s say you’re not exercising, eating a fry up for breakfast, meal deal for lunch and then a takeaway for dinner. Then you read about Brad Pitt and Fight Club – he trained for six days a week, ate steak and spinach for breakfast, chicken and peppers for lunch and a load of fish for dinner. He washed it all down with four protein shakes too. You try to emulate this – what do you think happens?
You don’t just go out and run a marathon. You train hard, and slowly but surely over the months of training, you build up your time and distance until eventually, come race day, you smash it.
MISTAKE: Being sucked in by so called health buzzwords.
People – with wholeheartedly good intentions – will try and make ‘healthy’ food choices by opting for low fat, whole grain or gluten free options over their deemed unhealthy counterparts.
Their intentions are good, but unfortunately, brands can be evil. All they want you to do is buy their product – they have no real interest in your health.
Brands will jump on keywords to try and sell products. They’ll try every trick in the book to get you to buy their junk. They’ll even use words like ‘lighter’ to suggest it is lower in fat than the normal one – when ‘lighter’ could be referring to anything, like the colour!
Don’t believe the hype – read the labels!
If something is low in fat then it’s probably loaded with sugar. If something has added vitamins then it’s probably because it’s so over processed it no longer contains any.
MISTAKE: Dropping calories too low or choosing a system that relies on products over food
This is a combination of everything I’ve already described – meal replacement shakes, slimming foods, juicing, detoxing, fasting etc.
If you can’t see yourself eating the way you are in six months time then you’re on the wrong plan. Nobody’s going to drink two shakes and one meal a day for the rest of their life.
1. DON’T RUSH
It didn’t go on overnight, don’t expect it to come off overnight!
2. GET A PLAN AND STICK TO IT
Nutrition and training should not be a guessing game – you need to know what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. Remember, proper preparation prevents poor performance.
3. KEEP A FOOD LOG
What gets measured gets managed. Logging food will not only put a barrier between mindless eating but also serve as a tool for you to track your progress. Studies have also shown people keeping a food log over a six month period lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t!
Just eat real food! Choose food from the land as opposed to foods made in a factory. These are foods that our bodies over thousands of years have evolved eating.
And that’s it! No secrets, no magic pills or beans, potions or lotions – just sensible eating, consistency and a bit of hard work!