Why Weight Loss Diets Don’t Work
We have all heard for years that “diets don’t work”, yet millions of us every year are willing to try yet another diet. Many seem desperate to believe the claims that “you can lose 30 pounds in 10 days”, that “you can lose inches while you sleep”, or that “you can reverse the clock without having to move a muscle.”
Like moths to a flame, many Americans are drawn to spend millions of dollars on diet books, pills, foods, and plans. Looking for a quick-fix, we are willing to believe the unbelievable to satisfy our desire to be fit, healthy, and beautiful without changing a thing in our lives. The diet industry promises an edge in weight loss, a boost that will help you avoid the work and sacrifice that is actually required if you really want to shed excess pounds and build calorie-burning muscle.
It is important to evaluate carefully any claims that the industry makes, according to the Federal Trade Commission, because the promises are often too good to be true. Weight loss is a $55 billion-a-year industry globally, CNBC reported in February 2010, Americans alone, according to Business Week, spend $40 billion of the total. Players in the industry include weight loss franchises, food companies, pharmaceutical firms, the diet book industry and dietary supplement suppliers. The fact is, many claims made by weight-loss programs are less than truthful. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s most recent study of weight-loss ads, published in 2002, 55% strain credibility by making such claims as “works three times faster than fasting itself”, or “lose up to 2 pounds daily”. Says Richard Cleland, an assistant director at the FTC: The ads are filled with testimonials about amounts of weight that are just physiologically impossible for a person to lose. You just don t lose 30 pounds in 30 days. In fact, the standard disclaimer “results not typical” is one of the few claims that are actually true.
So Why It Is That Weight Loss Diets Don’t Work?
Yes, it is possible to lose weight, but about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it all in 1 to 5 years. Since dieting, by definition, is a temporary food plan, it is not designed to work in the long run. Besides being logically flawed, dieting is completely ineffective and damaging for both body and soul.
Physically, your body reacts to fewer calories by slowing down your metabolism — burning fewer calories each day just to maintain your body functions. If you don’t add exercise along with the diet, you will lose lean muscle mass as well as fat and water weight. When you lose muscle, your metabolism is slowed even further and you would have to eat even fewer calories per day to continue losing weight. Dieting is not only an ineffective way to create lasting weight loss, but it is most certainly harmful as well. Most diets deprive you not only of calories, carbohydrates, and necessary fatty acids (fats), but they also lack many other essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly, creating a numerous deficiencies and imbalances. When you’ve “completed” your fad diet, having learned nothing about nutrition or how to best support your body, most people simply return back to the only thing they know, that being the unhealthy eating patterns that caused the weight gain in the first place. This is the beginning of “yo-yo dieting,” which can bring its own health problems in its wake. Studies are finding dangers in the yo-yo diet cycle of losing weight, gaining it back plus a little more, losing, and gaining again. It is stressful on the body systems to have wide swings in body weight. We think each time that this time we won’t gain it back, but the statistics show that most of us will. Instead of focusing on long-term health, which would result in weight loss and the nourished and balanced metabolism that results in a healthy weight for life, most diets focus on short-term weight loss at the expense of long-term health.
Psychologically, the deprivation of restrictive diets usually leads to a diet-overeat or diet-binge cycle. At first a diet can give you a sense of control. You are taking charge of your eating patterns. You may see success as the scale drops. But soon you are fighting cravings for forbidden foods, as well as hunger pangs and a lack of energy from the lower calorie level. You may even stop socializing because food is such a big part of how we interact with friends and family. Eventually you rebel against the diet and start “cheating.” If your cheats are small you can still be losing weight, although more slowly. But soon you may go into full rebellion and return to your old eating habits. Dieting, along with the frequent and compulsive weighing that accompanies it, often leads to eating disorders. We feel deprived, alienated and alone, except for others who are dieting. Eventually we give up and enter back into the world of happy uncontrolled eating, carrying negative feelings toward healthier “diet foods.” After years of unsuccessful dieting, even the word “healthy” can be falsely perceived as restrictive to many of us, and make us feel like “failures” because we couldn’t “stay on the diet” or “keep the weight off”. We erroneously think that it is our fault that the diets didn’t work, when the TRUTH is that IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT because DIETS ARE NOT DESIGNED TO WORK!!
If Weight Loss Diets Don’t Work, What Does?
The simple truth is that ideal body weight is a reflection of a properly functioning and well-nourished metabolism, not the result of dieting and deprivation. Due to the overwhelming amount of processed, chemical and artificial foods, most people, especially children, are malnourished even though they are overweight or obese. Instead of consuming the necessary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (that our bodies must have to function properly) in whole foods, as they naturally occur in both plant and animal sources, most of our food choices are highly processed non-foods. While the processing of what were originally “whole foods” extends the shelf life and transportability of those foods, it destroys the valuable nutrients and adds numerous non-nutritive and toxic chemicals to our foods and our diets. The lack of crucial nutrients and overwhelming presence of toxins in our foods together create numerous chronic illnesses, including overweight and obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes 2, food allergies, digestive disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, just to name a few. When you remove chemicals and toxins from the diet, and include a balance of high quality vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, healthy fats, lots of clean water, and regular exercise, the body finally begins to receive what it needs to function properly. Energy levels rapidly increase, chronic conditions improve and disappear, and unneeded pounds are effortlessly shed.
The concept of bio-individuality is that each person has unique food and lifestyle needs. One person’s food is another person’s poison, and that’s yet another reason why fad diets tend to fail in the long run. When you learn to listen to the messages your body is telling you, and you work on the principle of bio-individuality, you begin to make positive choices and changes that are based on your unique needs, lifestyle, preferences, and ancestral background.
It’s easy to overlook all of the other things in our lives, besides food, that actually contribute to our sense of nourishment and fulfillment, and directly affect our food choices. Our choices are not just about WHAT we eat, but WHY we eat. When we are conscious of the other factors present in our daily lives, such as our relationships, career, physical activity, and spiritual connection, we realize they directly influence these choices. When these “primary foods” are balanced, what you eat becomes “secondary”. You become supported in achieving all of your goals, from eating the right foods for your body to living an inspired, fulfilling life, and it becomes possible to actually enjoy living a healthy lifestyle over the long-term, instead of just dieting to “lose weight” in the short-term. A personalized, holistic approach based on whole foods prepared and cooked correctly naturally enables you to be successful at reaching your weight loss goal because it finally becomes both physiologically and psychologically possible. When you then add your effort in the form of choosing, preparing and eating high quality whole foods and making exercise a part of your daily routine, your appropriate body weight, as well as lasting health, is the natural result!