3 reasons diets fail and how to succeed

3 reasons diets fail and how to succeed

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone on a diet to lose some weight.  Raise both hands if you have gone on more than one diet.  Most likely, many of you raised both hands - not unusual considering there are dozens upon dozens of diets vying for our attention.  From high protein to low fat to low carbohydrate, all of them will claim to be the latest and greatest way of eating to solve your weight loss woes.


But the truth is most of these diets do a disservice to people.  Statistics show that up to 95% of people who go on a diet will lose some weight but keeping the weight off for good is the problem.  In other words, weight loss diets tend to fail.  Most of these diets are not doable long-term and that what is so frustrating and can be humiliating for many people who simply want to reach and maintain a healthier body weight.

To turn this weight loss worry into weight loss success, it’s important to understand 3 possible reasons why diets are failing you and what you can do about that:

1.     The diet is too restrictive

To be successful at weight loss, there will always need to be some moderate cutting back on this or that type of food or reduction in portion sizes.  But when a diet bans complete food groups or all your favorite foods, this will only leave you feeling deprived and can lead to feelings of boredom with the overly strict regimen.  When you do give in and it will happen, most likely you will find yourself stuffing your face with forbidden foods to make up for days or weeks of self-denial.

The solution: Learn to trust your body.  It is important to cut back to shed pounds but undercutting your body’s basic needs can compromise your metabolism and your health.  Keep in mind a small chocolate bar or small bowl of ice cream, won’t ruin your diet.  Allow yourself an occasional treat but take the Goldilocks approach – not too little, not too much, just right.

2.     You view the diet as only temporary and not long-term

This is very common especially when following an overly restrictive diet.  Many people, often women, will go on a “crash” diet for a special occasion – maybe a wedding or class reunion is approaching.  They do lose some weight but then go right back to old eating habits and pile the weight back on.  And then they wonder why weight loss is so difficult.

The solution: The most sustainable and healthy way of eating to follow is a well-balanced meal plan allowing foods from all food groups and encourages eating three meals a day with one to two snacks.  Ditching the “all or nothing” mentality is one way to prevent from setting the trap of an unsustainable eating style that leads to failure.  View eating as a pleasure by trying out many different types of food and making healthy choices the majority of the time.  And don’t beat yourself up if you do splurge – allowing yourself small splurges can actually reduce the risk of overeating.

3.     The diet may be messing with your metabolism

Anyone with a history of yo-yo dieting (losing weight than gaining it back again) most likely has a body that has learned to be very efficient as possible with food and number of calories you feed it.  That means you will be burning fewer calories throughout the day and if you do overeat, your body will store as much fat as possible because it doesn’t know when you will go another diet.  In the long run, it makes it much more difficult to see much permanent weight loss.

The solution: Any diet that drastically reduces the amount of calories allowed each day – fewer than 1200 calories for a woman or 1500 calories for a man – sets you up to fail.  When calories fall that low you get hungry or more likely “hangry.”  Chronically feeling hungry generally indicates your diet is imbalanced or inadequate causing your body to conserve energy, resisting weight loss. 

Instead, choose healthy foods that boost satiety keeping you feeling fuller longer – foods high in lean protein such as eggs or Greek yogurt, poultry, fish, beans and lentils.  Fiber-filled foods also create satiety – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils.  Don’t shy away from healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil. 

To help kick-start metabolism, exercise while attempting weight loss will create a demand for burning up extra calories, breaking down fat store while building up muscle mass.  Between increased muscle mass and aerobic exercise, your metabolic rate will increase helping you burn more calories even at rest.