Why diets don’t work.

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Planning to Go on a Diet? One Word of Advice: Don’t.
Higher BMIs have been linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, especially esophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancers. Hi Johnny, Thanks for sharing your experience. I want to lose weight so much. It will be my way of eating for life. Regular practice and dedication is important. The best exercise plan emphasizes cardio for calorie burning, but still includes strength training to preserve lean muscle. If you are unhappy or stressed get out now bc it will only get worse.

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Now, how seriously fucked up is that? That really enraged me. Prescribing such a diet to a basically healthy obese patient in order to achieve weight loss should be a crime, really. I just replied that I thought that was really cruel and that weight in and of itself is not a sign of poor health. And I even ask myself whether the very idea of dieting came from the doctor.

Given how fucked up things seem to be in this area, it might well have. I blame her for the start of my weight-cycling life, and also think she was lying to pawn the blame on insurance companies since it was an immediate answer and not one as a result of a phone call.

That was 20 years ago, and I stopped the weight-cycling madness about 7 years ago. Thank you for this post! I wish more professionals would look at this research and understand the reasons why diets fail. Except for stigma, of course, which is what body-positivity is all about. If size does not reflect your worth, then your worth is not up for debate.

We really are all in the same boat here. So the body is not a reflection of morality controversial a statement as that might be these days. And in a time where there are people willing to destroy their bodies — that is, themselves! I have nothing against people who diet. The people I care the most for have spent a good part of their lives following some kind of diet!!

Everyone I know who has dieted has ended up gaining a massive amount of weight after about three years at most. Over and over and over again. As far as I can tell, the absolutely best way to gain a lot of weight is to go on a diet. And these people are not weak-willed spineless no-willpower having horrible terrible people. These are people with willpower and abilities in general that regularly amaze me. I wonder if the same physiological changes occur in people who lose weight strictly through exercise, without any food restriction.

My weight has been stable for a few years now though still fat. The activity would still be worth it, though! Diets are not the answer, long term sustainable lifestyle changes are. It really hit home for me.

Eating for the sake of fueling our bodies so we feel and function well is really the only way to get out of a bad cycle of dieting. Okay, I hope this does not come across as confrontational. The answer to what? To weight-loss that can be maintained in the long term? If it is weight loss, what kind of weight loss? And what is a sustainable life-lifestyle change?

Also, sustainable under what circumstances? While working full time and raising a child as a single parent? While being on the road six days a week? And I do not think that there is data that life style changes circumvent any of the mechanisms usually triggered by weight loss.

I do not claim to know all the literature, though, so if you have sources on that I would appreciate it if you could share them. Plus, it really, really depends how you define a sustainable life style change. After all, Weight Watchers also claims that they are not a diet…. But I only was at my highest weight for a few months. And while I have been relatively weight stable without much effort for the last three years, I do not know if I will eventually regain. I also think that a person who has been at a stable though high weight for a long time before losing weight is potentially in a very different situation than I am.

The same would probably be true for someone who gained weight due to taking certain medications etc. I too have lost large amounts of weight and gained it back. Calorie counting, zero carb and daily insanity workouts are probably not sustainable for most people. Sure, you can do it for 6 months or a year, but what about 15 years down the road?

It has to become a part of your life — whether you are a single mom or depressed or anything else. The reason these habits fit in is because they become normal life — like brushing your teeth! Granted, depression is a whole other ballgame that makes it hard to do anything, including normal daily activities — something that needs medical treatment before weight loss can be properly addressed.

For the others, time is important here. Ever been a smoker trying to quit? Similar thing — it takes time and effort to make it permanent, to figure out what you can do forever.

As to whether permanent lifestyle changes can help morbidly obese people lose weight or maintain weight loss, for long term weight loss, I think yes. To get started, is a more extreme method needed? Our habits are very much ingrained in us and a very morbidly obese person may not have the convenience of time to focus on creating permanent lifestyle changes but it certainly could be something that was worked in as they made progress, preferably under the guidance of their doctor or another health professional.

I think the big problem with your list is many items on that are out of our control or not attainable. Given rampant documented medical biases and not everyone has good family and friends…. There is a blind assumption it would be better for everyone to lose weight to a certain number with no evidence to support that idea.

Not just that — but those things also do not always lead to weight loss. And they rarely lead to weight loss of more than a few pounds. Which does not mean that they are not worthwhile things to do, of course. At the risk of being called a heretic in this circle, there are a couple of things that jumped out at me. In your post on not being a dietician, you mention that you are a person of science, one who believes that sound study can provide a framework to reach a desired outcome.

What confuses me is that the studies you link are either incomplete or lack repeatability and monitored controls subject reporting is unreliable. That and controls, of which are not strongly present in the linked studies, form the basis of science. I know the immediate reaction will be to cite all of the relevant topics you covered. Yes, genetics play a role in how our bodies intake, use, and expend energy. Yes, those who lose weight tend to have an increased level of desire for foods from their past, their learned behaviour.

Yes, when you decrease weight, you decrease expended energy. Yes, different sources of calories are utilized by the body differently, often depending on the individual based on a variety of factors.

All of those points are valid, but they work in concert with the one rule. If someone wishes to maintain, lose, or gain weight, they can do so once they understand their bodies ability to process and expend energy. If they fail to adjust their intake to their new level of expenditure, they will gain the weight back. It seems simple, I know, but it is relatively simple. There is needed differentiation that seems to not be addressed here: What the linked studies, and your final thoughts.

If we have a biologically ideal weight, and many incomplete studies have shown promising reason to believe so, that does not necessarily mean that we have a biologically ideal amount of fat. People diet to lose fat, not weight. Weight can be replaced without gaining back the previously disproportionate amount of fat. Lose ten pounds of fat, replace it with 8 pounds of muscle and 2 pounds of fat.

Since then, I have regained every single pound. I can also now intake many more calories than I could with my past body composition. It has been 10 years. However, if you wish to make changes, you need to understand that there will be challenges and disappointment along the way.

I think articles like these are designed to lessen the hurt, the hopelessness, felt by those who felt that have failed,and that support is needed to help them refocus and re-evaluate their goals. It is another thing to promote ideas that give them absolutely zero hope, because, as this article seems to suggest, you are what you are and nothing will change that. For that reason I consider this line of thought to be quite destructive, regardless of the intent.

Was she just chowing down on cheeseburgers or some other villainous food item? He talks about body composition. The most rigorous and accomplished overfeeding experiments have repeatedly demonstrated that people on the same calorie surplus differ not only in the amount of weight they gain, but also in the fat-to-fat-free mass ratio.

Basic stress and anxiety, family and professional life, spontaneous physical activities like fidgeting, gut microbiota, exposure to toxins, mood swings and, of course, genetics all play a role in determing actual energy intake and expenditure. So it IS about calories in and calories out. But saying that means basically nothing, at least to me. And what worries me is that by focusing on the personal choice framework, which surely plays a role in all this, we may neglect the structural problems of social inequality and inadequate access to healthy food and physical activity environments.

Last but not least, we may also neglect the questions of tolerance and acceptance, as being overweight or obese is surely not a health issue for many people who are already quite active and eat pretty normally; the issue for these people is fat shaming and stigma, not physical health.

I guess the poster above can consider himself very affortunate to be able to alter his body composition so radically on choice. I wonder if that commenter has ever studied the energostatic hypothesis and fuel partitioning. The difficulties in measuring dietary intake are pretty well known in all nutrition research, sadly. But everyone else can feel free to chime in and let me know what they think. This fact of human biology is doubly cruel culturally, because women pay a much greater price for being fat than men.

This cannot be emphasized enough. How many advertisements for diet products are aimed at men? The preponderance of Dr. The fat stigma is borne primarily by women, regardless of health. This culture is vested in a lot of magical thinking, especially about this subject. What is most galling is that most physicians are vested in this very same magical thinking. Someday, somehow someone will find the answer.

In the meantime, I will continue taking an exercise class 4 days a week; refuse all processed foods except an occasional kosher hot dog ; substitute agave for sugar; and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. This is a horrible article. It basically gives people am excuse to not eat healthy and continue to be overweight.

Saying someone genetically predisposed to bring overweight is junk science. If someone had taught them the importance of a healthy diet, discipline, and physical activity they could work. You say they show a preference for high calorie food and sweets well so do I but I control my urges! There does not need to be a single gene linked to a particular trait in order for that trait to still be considered highly heritable. Twin studies are certainly not junk science. You sound scared and confused.

Okay, first of all, you are aware that not every trait is the result of one single gene, right? A number of traits are caused by multiple genes — this is not at all unusual see http: Do you also believe that height is not partially genetic? Because you cannot trace that back to one single gene, either. Also, it would be great if you could state the definition of junk science that you use. And cite some sources that support your claims and state why they are not junk science. In other words, they have three instead of two versions of a number of genes.

What was your training in weight problems and control, or are you self-taught? Using common sense maybe? I think for any diet to work one has to have self-discipline. They succeeded because they kept to the diet and had the self-discipline to do so. Stafford Creeklife Supporter marcelproust37 hotmail. So, Patrick, your expertise is…. Yours is the simplistic opinion that keeps so many dieting and ultimately gaining more and more weight.

You know, I actually agree with this. The few people who successfully maintain a large weight loss probably do have very high levels of self-discipline on average. It requires a lot self-discipline to literally work against your own body, eat less than you are hungry for, etc, for years and years. You might actually be interested in this account of weight maintenance: The author says that maintaining her weight loss is basically a half-time job for her.

Lastly, most people who say that dieting requires self-control seem to imply that thin people have that kind of control. But thin people do not necessarily diet — in fact, the thin people I know usually eat what they are hungry for and stop when they are full.

Some might diet from time to time, but nearly none of them is on constant very restrictive diet as it is required by most formerly fat people.

Then there are of course people who diligently stick to diets for quite a while — months, sometimes years. But then the physiological backlash increased hunger, decreased metabolism becomes so strong that they cannot keep it up any longer.

Those people actually have demonstrated quite a bit of self-control by sticking to a diet for as long as they did, yet they are often treated and see themselves as lacking in self- control in comparison to thin people.

Self-control can help you deal with one part of the equation — hunger. It will not speed up your metabolism.

I can put in a smaller amount of effort and get my house clean enough. I dislike how people apply discipline to eating. I used to do it. But eating is not what discipline should be applied to — eating is about care — it is a perversion of discipline when you use it to police your own oppression. I use discipline these days to stop me from dieting, to stop me from succumbing to all that garbage, not to ensure my compliance and subjugation.

Discipline enables me to protect that which is valuable and fragile — my sense of self-worth — in a world where that is really the thing most at risk of harm. Most of the time. As someone who does tend to be quite nervous about the grammatical and other errors she makes I thank you for your restraint ;. People have all the right in the world to make different decisions for themselves and to hold different opinions.

I do actually get uneasy and feel triggered when people tell me that they think that dieting is swell idea — no matter how polite they are when expressing that opinion, but that has to do with my personal history and it is my responsibility to deal with that, not theirs. So — fine, argue against my opinion all that you want, as long as you respect me and as long as you consider at least briefly that I might have a point. But if you want me to take you serious it would be nice if you would give me the same courtesy.

Which entails actually listening to the points I make and to think about them as well as looking — at least briefly — at the data that I use to support my opinion before deciding that it is nonsense. It takes them aback and stops them in their weight-loss speech tracks. I gained weight in 2 very clear 15 kg batches — once when I went on antidepressants in and the second time when I went on a different variety of antidepressants in That is one thing that blows my mind with the medical profession and society at large — nobody seems to talk about food and mental health!

For me it is absolutely the difference between being fat and sane or thin and full of anxiety, paranoia and depression. My brain needs food. I know this feeling well. Thank you so much for this post. My family of origin is incredibly fat-phobic. And if nothing else, I always know I can come here to detox from all of that. I just recently, after a year and a half, regained all the weight I had lost on Weight Watchers.

My weight regain began after a vacation, where I knew it would be impossible to stay on the diet. I gained 6lbs that week, and was never able to truly do the diet again. The weight gain was originally from a medication that was notorious for rapid weight gain, that my doctor decided was not important to tell me or warn me about. I was eating so much, and one month later, I was 30lbs heavier.

I was already overweight to begin with, and was trying to lose weight prior, so this realization was horrifying. I just want to say thank you. My regrets, taking the medication, going on that vacation, have all been slowly driving me insane.

Thank you for your words, your research, and your perspective. These are the 5 main reasons diets fail people: Diets that promise fast, easy, and lasting results. The evidence is solid: Restricting your food intake in any way is not sustainable. What resources do we have? Actually we have […]. Lesson three - How does hunger feel? As much as you want. On not being a dietitian. Why diets don't work.

Food you like is food that feels good. Who are you when you eat kale chips? The rules of nutrition. If I eat more than you, it's for one simple reason. How to eat, in a nutshell - lesson one: Dear Fat Nutritionist - You're pretty good looking for a girl.

No matter how much… The unbearable vulnerability of eating enough. My frustrations with my body… The unbearable vulnerability of eating enough. Thank you as always,… The unbearable vulnerability of eating enough. Get Blog Posts by Email. Learn to Eat About What is normal eating? On wheat and death. This is not a new, or even particularly controversial, observation among researchers: Here is what they theorize about why diets fail.

An illuminating quote from the conclusion of one paper: But an interesting quote from this same article hints of more than purely behavioural factors: Lowered energy expenditure Reduced calorie intake and weight loss, it turns out, cause some interesting changes to the body that result in expending fewer calories.

A nod to weight diversity from the last study linked: Fat storage and insulin sensitivity Another physiological change produced by weight loss is increased insulin sensitivity.

From this same paper: Increased appetite During and after weight loss, levels of several hormones involved in appetite regulation change significantly. Again, these responses may indicate the existence of a regulatory mechanism intended to restore preferred body weight: Genetic predisposition to gain weight It has long been understood that body weight has a significant genetic component.

And a final quote: This entry was posted in Diets. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed. Posted November 19, at Posted November 20, at 5: Hi Lori, When you write it, could you please send me the link, or post it here. Posted November 20, at Posted November 20, at 3: Posted November 20, at 7: Posted November 22, at 9: They are no different, not special! Posted November 20, at 4: Posted November 20, at 1: Posted November 21, at 6: Posted November 21, at I was going to say that I have seen that, too, but almost always in men.

Posted November 22, at 1: Posted November 20, at 2: Excuse the error in the first sentence. Posted November 21, at 1: During my cycle, I have to pee loads during the blood phase. Posted November 20, at 8: Posted November 22, at 3: Posted November 23, at 5: Posted November 24, at Define the problem that you are trying to solve first. Posted November 23, at Posted November 30, at Posted November 25, at Posted November 26, at Posted November 25, at 4: I would second everything Michele said, and I love the merry-go-round analogy.

Posted November 24, at 7: Posted November 26, at 1: Some doctors in Canada also prescribe weight loss and low-cal for anything.

Posted December 19, at 7: A starvation diet would not be okay if she had been a fat person either. Posted January 12, at Posted November 25, at 9: Posted November 26, at 6: Such a great post! Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.

Calories obtained from fructose found in sugary beverages such as soda and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, and candy are more likely to add to fat around your belly. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes. High-fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are higher in volume and take longer to digest, making them filling—and great for weight-loss.

Eat vegetables raw or steamed , not fried or breaded, and dress them with herbs and spices or a little olive oil for flavor. Add fruit to low sugar cereal —blueberries, strawberries, sliced bananas. Bulk out sandwiches by adding healthy veggie choices like lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and avocado.

Add more veggies to your favorite main courses to make your dish more substantial. Even pasta and stir-fries can be diet-friendly if you use less noodles and more vegetables. Start your meal with salad or vegetable soup to help fill you up so you eat less of your entrée.

Set yourself up for weight-loss success by taking charge of your food environment: Cook your own meals at home. This allows you to control both portion size and what goes in to the food. Restaurant and packaged foods generally contain a lot more sugar, unhealthy fat, and calories than food cooked at home—plus the portion sizes tend to be larger.

Serve yourself smaller portions. Use small plates, bowls, and cups to make your portions appear larger. Studies suggest that consuming more of your daily calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner can help you drop more pounds. Eating a larger, healthy breakfast can jump start your metabolism, stop you feeling hungry during the day, and give you more time to burn off the calories.

Fast for 14 hours a day. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast until breakfast the next morning. Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You can create your own small portion snacks in plastic bags or containers. Thirst can often be confused with hunger, so by drinking water you can avoid extra calories. Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. If you share a kitchen with non-dieters, store indulgent foods out of sight.

The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Lack time for a long workout? Three minute spurts of exercise per day can be just as good as one minute workout.

Start off slowly with small amounts of physical activity each day. How to Start Exercising and Stick to It: Find exercise you enjoy. Try walking with a friend, dancing, hiking, cycling, playing Frisbee with a dog, enjoying a pickup game of basketball, or playing activity-based video games with your kids. The difficulty in sticking with a long-term weight-maintenance plan is one of the main reasons that weight-loss programs fail. To uncover clues to successful weight loss, researchers have been collecting information on people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off for many years.

Below are six strategies gleaned f rom NWCR participants who have kept off at least 30 pounds for at least one year:. Lose Weight and Keep It Off: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths - Debunking myths about food, dieting, and exercise. Healthy Weight — Guide to healthy weight loss covers what causes weight gain, what leads to weight loss, and lessons from successful dieters.

Harvard School of Public Health. Losing Weight — Learn about healthy weight loss and dieting, including tips for recognizing roadblocks and keeping the weight off. Aim for a Healthy Weight: Guide to Behavior Change — Covers behaviors that will help you lose weight and maintain your healthy weight loss efforts.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Cutting Calories - Illustrated healthy weight loss guide, with strategies for eating more while still losing weight, avoiding portion size pitfalls, and using fruits and vegetables to manage weight.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Low-Carbohydrate Diets - Examines how a low-carbohydrate diet may help some people lose weight more quickly than a low-fat diet. Just Enough for You: About Portion Sizes — Offers tips for managing portion sizes at home, and when eating out. Portion Distortion — Are you a victim of portion distortion?

Many of us eat oversized servings without realizing it. This site helps you regain perspective. National Institutes of Health. Lack of Sleep Boosts Food Purchases — How shopping while sleep deprived can have the same effect as shopping while hungry.

Too little sleep and too much weight: The content of this reprint is for informational purposes only and NOT a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

ORG Trusted guide to mental health Toggle navigation. The best diet for weight loss Popular weight-loss strategies Control emotional eating Stay motivated Cut down on sugar Fruit, veggies, and fiber Take charge of your food environment Get moving Keeping the weight off Topic Page Diets.

What's the best diet for healthy weight loss? Popular weight loss strategies Cut calories Some experts believe that successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes.

You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories. Eating calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating calories of broccoli. We also turn to food for comfort or to relieve stress—which can quickly derail any weight loss plan.

Cut carbs A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. Less sugar can mean a slimmer waistline Calories obtained from fructose found in sugary beverages such as soda and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, and candy are more likely to add to fat around your belly.

What's the best diet for healthy weight loss?