why fad diets don't work
Last week I wrote a post called Why Fad Diets Work. Here's the summary:
- They ask you to eat fewer calories than you burn. Calorie deficit = weight loss, every time.
- You're more likely to pay attention to what you eat.
- Many have you keep a food journal.
- They provide a road map, which makes it easier, which increases your odds of success.
Unfortunately, not everything about fad diets (and weight loss "systems") is so great.
Long Term. Are you going to be on that diet system for the rest of your life? If not, the transition back into "the wild" can be as difficult as the start of the diet was. You'll need to take everything you've learned and learn how to apply it in different situations with different foods. This is a point of failure for many people. In the end, if you're going to have to learn how to eat right, and in the right portions, why not just do this from the beginning, without a system?
Inflexibility. Business lunches, social gatherings, and a hectic family life centered around the kids' activities are all potential pitfalls for a diet system. What do you do when the restaurant doesn't offer what your diet plan calls for, or when a drive through is the only opportunity for dinner that night? If you take the time to learn calories counts and portion sizes for the foods you eat, you won't have any trouble making good estimates in these situations.
Variety and substitutions. Cutting out an entire class of foods (carbs, grains, etc.) can lead to problems, unless you do a good job in replacing those missing nutrients from other foods. If you're going to spend extra energy figuring out which foods can help replace or offset other foods, why not just spend the energy learning calories and portion sizes? And for me, personally, the thought of never eating another slice of pizza just isn't in the cards..
Cost. Those proprietary "systems" aren't free. (Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Medifast, etc.) You're either going to spend money on them for the rest of your life, or you're going to have to learn to eat in the wild. This is the same as "Long Term" above - at some point you're going to have to learn to eat right on your own; why not do it at the beginning of your journey?
Fad diets and diet systems can be a great way to help you lose weight. But they're probably not going to be your "forever" diet plan, which means you're going to have to learn to eat on your own at some point to avoid failing. Why not just learn to eat fewer calories right from the beginning? You'll then have the skill necessary to be successful for the rest of your life, eating any and all types of foods!
related reading: some thoughts on diet systems