I’m a science nerd who loves to reference studies and apply research to everyday concerns such as weight reduction, bodybuilding, and other health/fitness issues. But sometimes, you have to step back from the science and look at the larger picture to enable people see the forest for the trees.
Finding a diet that works most of the time may seem like nuclear physics to most individuals reading this post. It’s not, but the diet options are endless. Fat or not fat? Carbohydrates or none? Protein-rich or not? As mentioned earlier, the countless variants and combinations of the Diet add to the complication. It feels interminable, and many give up in frustration. That will change in this article.
Following a few simple recommendations can help you determine if a diet program is good for you. Certainly, you may not always agree with me, and this is not another “drop 100 lbs in 20 days” program. However, if you’re sick and tired of being confused, weary of losing weight to gain it again, and wondering how to start deciding on the correct Diet for you, this article might alter your life.
Is your diet “Testable”?
What is the primary reason diets fail long term? The main factor is a lack of long-term compliance. The facts don’t lie: most people who lose weight gain it back – and often more. Didn’t you know that?
But what do you do to avoid it? Here’s another reality check: almost any Diet that involves “burning” more calories than you consume will cause you to lose weight. They all work to a degree: Short-term, Atkins-style, no-carb, low-fat, high-carb, and other fad diets are irrelevant.
Select one and stick to it if you want to reduce weight rapidly. You will lose weight. Studies show that any commercial weight reduction program will offer you the same results after six months to a year. The most effective diets recently studied were Atkins’, Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers’ Pure Points, and Rosemary Conley’s Eat Yourself Slim.
Other research examining popular diets has reached similar outcomes. For example, a year-long study examined the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for their ability to lose weight.
Remember that the number one reason diets fail is non-compliance. The study’s principal researcher stated:
“Our study indicated that adherence, not diet type, predicted weight reduction.”
The capacity to stick to a diet, rather than the Diet itself, predicted their weight reduction success. “But, certain diets must be better than others, right?” I hear the hands rise. Which diets work best? Absolutely speaking, some diets are healthier than others, some are better at keeping lean body mass, and some are better at controlling hunger. While most popular diets help to lose weight, it is apparent that sticking to the Diet is the most critical component of losing weight long term.
A diet is a temporary weight-loss method. A change in lifestyle leads to long-term weight reduction. So we’re talking about long-term weight control, not fast fixes. This is an excellent example of why I wouldn’t say I like the word Diet. Want to lose weight fast? Heck, I’ll tell you how to do it for free now.
Twelve scrambled egg whites, one grapefruit, and 1 gallon of water for 90-120 days. You will slim down. Is it healthy? Nope. If you finish the program and return to your “regular” eating habits, will the weight remain off? No way. Will you lose fat or muscle, water, bone, and (ideally!) fat? So, while there are numerous diets out there that might help you lose weight, you must ask yourself:
“Can I sustain this eating pattern?”
So here’s my test: “Can I eat like that for the rest of my life?” Test. It’s not exactly easy to say, but it gets the message through.
The moral of the story is that any diet you choose to reduce weight must be part of a permanent lifestyle shift. If it is not a permanent method of eating, even after you reach your goal weight, it is useless.
So many fad diets are gone, and you don’t have to worry about them. The question is not whether the diet works in the short term but if it can be followed for life. Returning to “your” eating style after reaching your goal weight is a formula for disaster and causes the well-known yo-yo dieting phenomenon. Overall, no quick fixes, no free lunches, and only long-term lifestyle changes will keep the weight off. I know it’s not what most people want to hear, but it’s true.
The numbers are precise: losing weight is easy, but keeping it off isn’t! If you are honest with yourself and use my criteria above, you will find that the most popular fad/commercial diets no longer appeal to you. It also takes me to an example that clarifies: Which Diet, A or B, is better for long-term weight loss? Which Diet is healthier if you lose 30 lbs in 30 days on diet A, gain it all back the following year, or lose 20 lbs in 3 months on diet B and keep it off for a year?
If you can’t answer those questions, you’ve missed the meaning of this essay and the lesson it’s attempting to teach you. Reread this part. Diet B wins by default.
In giving a man a fish, he will eat for a day. However, if you teach a guy to fish, he will live forever.
This phrase aptly describes the next crucial stage in deciding what food plan to reduce weight permanently. Will the diet plan you’re contemplating teach you long-term eating habits or provide you with facts? So, would the Diet rely on pre-made items or unique bars and shakes?
Let’s compare diet A with diet B again. Diet A provides you with their foods, drinks, and bars and tell you when to eat them. You’ll drop 30 pounds in 2 months. Diet B will help you discover which foods to consume, how many calories to eat, why you should eat them, and generally how to eat as part of a whole lifestyle shift that will allow you to make educated nutrition decisions. It takes six months to lose 8-10 pounds on Diet B, but the weight stays off since you know how to eat appropriately.
Recall the Chinese saying. Both diets help you lose weight. But just one Diet will teach you self-reliance following your experience. Diet A is easier and faster than diet B, Diet B takes longer and involves more thought and understanding. After diet A, you’re back where you started, with no ability to fish. Diet firms generate money by throwing you a fish, forcing you to rely on them permanently or return to them once you regain all your weight.
Diet plans that force you to eat smoothies, bars, cookies, or pre-made items are another diet to avoid.
Diet A programs let you lose weight by drinking their product for multiple meals followed by a “smart dinner” or eating their bars, drinks, or pre-made meals. They’re simple to follow yet doomed to fail. Unless you think you can live on cookies and shakes for the rest of your life, they all flunk the “Can I live on that?” test. If the dietary strategy you employ to lose weight does not educate you on the best way to eat, then, it is a loser for long-term weight reduction and should be avoided.
Weight loss: the missing link
Another test to assist you in picking a long-term weight reduction nutrition regimen does not include nutrition. Long-term weight reduction requires activity. Long-term weight reduction involves exercise. Many diets lack an activity component, making them losers for long-term weight loss. Without a complete workout routine, a weight reduction regimen is like buying a car without tires or a plane without wings. According to research, people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off have consistently followed their Diet and activity routines.
Regular exercise impacts your metabolism, enabling you to eat more calories while still being in a calorie deficit, and can help maintain lean body mass (LBM), which is crucial to your health and metabolism. Exercise has numerous health advantages so I won’t repeat them here. However, the basic conclusion is that (a) regular exercise is required if you want to maximize your weight reduction efforts and (b) keep it off permanently. Don’t waste time on programs that don’t help you with this critical aspect of long-term weight loss.
Note about exercise: Any activity is better than none. But, like diets, not all exercise is created equal, and many individuals pick the wrong type to maximize their weight loss efforts. They will practice aerobics and disregard strength training. Resistance exercise is important for fat reduction because it develops muscle, boosts 24-hour energy expenditure, and has other health advantages.
Notably, I mentioned fat loss, not weight loss. I use the word “weight loss” throughout this text simply because it is a well-known term. An adequately designed nutrition and activity plan should aim for the fat loss rather than weight loss. The improper approach focuses on weight reduction, which may include muscle, water, and even bone loss. The aim is to lose fat while maintaining lean body mass (LBM), which is covered in my ebook(s) and is beyond the scope of this essay. The kind, intensity, and duration of exercise are critical variables to reduce FAT while keeping muscle.
Long-term weight loss psychology
Many diet plans fail to address the psychological reasons people struggle to lose weight long term. However, several researchers have looked at this. The psychological component is arguably the most overlooked component of long-term weight reduction.
Studies that compare the psychological qualities of those who have kept their weight off to others who have gained it back show distinct disparities. For example, in one research, 28 obese women who had lost weight but gained it back were compared to 28 formerly obese women who had lost weight and kept it off for a year and 20 women who had a stable weight in the healthy range.
“The findings show that psychological reasons may explain why many obese persons regain weight after successful weight loss.”
This study focused on women, reflecting some of the unique psychological challenges women face, but males face similar issues that might hinder long-term weight loss efforts.
Other research on men and women shows that “unrealistic weight goals, poor coping or problem-solving abilities, and low self-esteem” generally predict long-term weight reduction failure. Self-esteem, autonomy, taking responsibility in life, and generally higher psychological strength and stability are prevalent psychological attributes among those who have successfully lost weight for a long time.
This section’s primary goal is to show how psychology influences long-term weight loss success. If not handled in the entire plan, it can make or break your success. Most nutrition initiatives cannot and should not fully address this issue. In improved programs, aim for inspiration, goal setting, and support are common themes. If you can identify with those in the above categories that struggled to maintain weight, you will need to seek help through therapy, support groups, etc. Expect no weight loss program to cover this issue adequately, but search for programs that give support, goal planning, and tools to help you stay on track.
“Every minute, a sucker is born.”
So why don’t you see more honest facts on long-term weight loss? Truth isn’t the best method to sell bars, shakes, books, supplements, or programs. Suppose everyone who reads this post did it and sent it to millions of other people who did it. In that case, the manufacturers of these items may be in severe financial difficulty. They know – as the man stated – “there’s a sucker born every minute,” so I doubt they’ll stay up at night thinking about me or this piece.
Permanent weight loss requires a commitment to lifestyle changes that include eating and exercise.
Any diet plan you adopt must pass the “Can I eat like that forever?” test.
Your weight reduction program should educate you on how to eat and be self-sufficient to make long-term nutritional decisions.
Your weight reduction program should not rely on commercial bars, smoothies, supplements, or pre-made foods to be successful.
Your weight loss plan must include effective exercise.
Your weight reduction program should aid with motivation, goal setting, and support but not replace psychological counseling.
I’d want to use this final piece to clarify certain things. First, this advice is not for everyone. That includes competitive bodybuilders and other athletes who benefit from rather drastic changes in their nutrition, such as “off-season” and “pre-contest.”
The material is also not meant for people on a special diet to treat or manage a medical condition. This post is for the typical individual who wishes to stop the yo-yo dieting forever. As 99 percent of the population, that’s millions of people.
The “you have to eat this way forever” advice should not intimidate people. That doesn’t imply you’ll be dieting for the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn to eat healthily when you achieve your goal weight, but it should be similar to how you ate to lose weight in the first place. Once you reach your goal weight or body fat, you enter a maintenance phase with more calories and dietary options, including the odd pleasure like a slice of pizza.
Maintenance diets are a natural continuation of weight-loss diets, but not weight gain diets!
Whatever program you pick, keep in mind the ‘big picture approach to long-term weight loss. See you there!