If you have been trapped in the cycle of trying every different diet available it’s probably not surprising news that most diets won’t work for you. Although diets seem to cause an initial rapid loss of weight, they are not designed for long term living. So why don’t these diets work? Let’s look into a few of them…

Diets which cause a rapid loss of weight

If you do lose weight quickly when you start a diet this is more likely to be water and carbohydrate loss – not fat loss! This is because your body attempts to use stored carbohydrate, plus the water that is stored with it to make up for what you do not eat. As soon as you start to eat normally again, your muscles will start to restore the carbohydrate and water with it, and your weight will increase.

Diets which severely restrict your energy intake

Your metabolism relies on a steady stream of energy in order to function effectively. Our source of energy for life and activity comes from food so we need to consume enough to go about our daily activity. Diets which severely restrict your calorie intake can cause many issues including; tiredness, fatigue, lethargy, grumpiness and hunger. Your body can even hold onto its body fat stores if you feed it too little. Restricting your intake also restricts the amount of nutrients that you can consume. This type of diet won’t work for you as it cannot be sustained long term and lowers physical and mental performance.

Diets which restrict you to one type of food

If a diet restricts you to eating one type of food this is sure to fail. This type of diet does not just restrict your enjoyment of eating as you have no variety; it also restricts the number of nutrients that you consume. A low intake of nutrients over a period of time can lead to deficiencies. Eating only one type of food may also test your willpower and it’s not likely that you can stick with it long term. It’s also not conducive to an enjoyable social life as you are not able to eat out, and if you do dine out will find it near impossible to get what your diet says you must have.

Diets that restrict meal and snack times

Diets are available that restrict when you are allowed to eat. Although it is important to regulate your intake, if you are restricting entire meals or snacks you won’t lose weight in the long term. A great example of this type of diet is ‘the no carbs after 7pm diet’. Promoters of this diet believe that you should never eat carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals) after 7pm at night. This is not true, although you do not want to go to bed with an excessively full stomach, you can still eat after 7pm. This meal is especially important for those individuals who exercise in the morning as they need to stock up their muscles and liver with glycogen (stored carbohydrate) overnight. You need to consume energy throughout the day so this type of diet will not work in the long term.

Diets which restrict food groups

Although there are some members of the general public who need to avoid certain food groups (for example those with lactose intolerance and cannot consume dairy products), it can be dangerous to cut one or more of these out. Each food group contains a number of nutrients and often in larger amounts than another group. If you cut out dairy you miss out on some very good sources of calcium and vitamin D. If you cut out fruit you miss out on vitamin C and fibre, plus a lot of antioxidants. The body needs a variety of foods from each food group to ensure that it obtains the nutrients that it needs. It cannot function without these and may end up deficient in vitamins or minerals.

If you restrict your protein groups you are also likely to feel hungrier, as research shows that having protein with a meal or snacks helps us to feel fuller for longer.

Diets do not work as they are not realistic, they do not allow the once in a while indulgence and they are not sustainable long term. If you are looking to lose weight you should aim to change one small habit at a time that you can continue to do. For example you are better to aim to reduce your portion size at dinner than skipping the entire meal or a food group of that meal, or swapping white bread for wholegrain bread. Changes that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life will lead to long term health and a healthy weight. You will also enjoy the social side of eating much more!

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