Diet's just don't work long term. You probably know this. Why do something with a short term focus that you can't sustain? I just don't get it, yet people are continually drawn to short term fixes, unrealistic ideals driven by idiots on TV.....
If you've gone down that path, learned the hard way, but still want to get yourself into great shape - read on - this article is for you. It's a bit of a ramble - so grab a cup of tea, turn off your phone, and read this stuff, I'll bet you resonate with what we cover here...
So - 15 reasons why diets CANNOT work:
1 - Diet Mindset
Starve, cut back, misery, punishment. You know, deep down, that when you drastically cut back on food, your metabolism will adjust, quite rightly thinking that you are starving, and down regulate to allow your key functions to continue on. The diet mindset is almost a form of torture - "I've been naughty, I'll have to punish myself to get back in shape". It's just not sustainable, it's not reasonable, and it's just downright not effective!
Don't cut back and starve yourself, it can only last so long and then you'll be back with a hunger to match. Use science - use hormonal responses to food - there are much smarter things you can do than cut back on things. Do you really think eating very little food is going to sustain your body for optimal health? NO! The Diet Mindset - has to go.
2 - Focusing on Calories
Don't do it! You can eat 200 calories per day in a MULTITUDE of ways, all with very different effects on your body. Do you think that 2000 calories made up of fast absorbed refined carbohydrates ONLY with no fibre or protein, is the same as a well balanced 2000 calories that includes fibre, protein, and fat? No way! A diet that just focuses on calories is missing the big picture of nutrition, hormonal responses to food, blood sugar levels, hunger, and just long term sustainability. Diet plan anyone? No way - it's about working through a process that over TIME adjusts small aspects of your nutrition to improve and allow you to be healthy at the same time. Don't focus on calories - it's just not the big issue we once thought. PS - of course though, eating 5000 calories per day is likely to see weight gain, gotta be sensible.
3 - Cutting Fat Out
Many diets have focused on cutting fat out of the diet. Ever heard of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E, K)? You need them for optimal health and being able to sustain joints that will let you train. Cutting fat out is a bad move. Fat is so important for our overall health, as well as helping food become tasty and filling. Don't cut fat out. In all fairness, I think most of you reading this are aware of this point by now. I hope. I really hope. Right, let's move right along...
4 - Cravings
We need to manage cravings. We get them. Dieting as such will see you have cravings quite often, usually sugar cravings as you have probably cut out carbohydrates and your brain is used to the sugar hit - so it's going to play tricks on you. Sometimes you can't eat, because you are busy and not around food. That's okay - we can handle it. Humans are designed to go without for long periods. It's a good idea sometimes to do that so you get used to cravings and can box them up, and move on. A "diet" will often push you into an unhealthy relationship with cravings.
5 - Lack of Exercise Focus
This is huge. Diets that just get you to work on calorie intake and funny eating plans, with no emphasis on your exercise plan, will fail. Of course they'll fail. You need to get FITTER and STRONGER if you are going to be in optimal shape. Of course your nutrition is huge when it comes to getting in shape, but you have to get fit as well so your body is consuming the nutrition you are taking in, and then becoming the optimal machine you want. It's both - there is no diet v exercise debate - they work hand in hand. Spend time planning your nutrition, spend time planning your exercise. Talk to the pros, like me, Corey Hinde, about this. Top athletes have coaches, you should too. Don't leave your health up to chance.
6 - Wrong Exercise Focus
This is also a big issue. Don't just run miles and miles. Don't just do yoga. People need some strength training. Interval training is effective. Some long slow aerobic work for fat burning is important. Mix things up. I get my clients to have several strength training sessions per week, a few easy aerobic sessions, and 1-2 higher intensity sessions. The mix works. Don't become just a mileage blob.
7 - Short Term Thinking >> Long Term Thinking
Mindset is the key to success. You gained weight over 10 years but you think that losing it is a 12 week bootcamp? Nope - good stuff takes time. You need to slow down, think far far longer term, like a minimum of a YEAR - and just get to work. Last week I emailed a client and very diplomatically explained the process of goal setting and appropriate time frames. My real response I wanted to say was.... "chill out! Stop, relax, just get up, train, and then get on with your day and FORGET about it until tomorrow. This is going to take a while so RELAX" Don't put yourself into a stressful state (the WORST thing you can do to kill off fat loss), just relax, think long term, and get busy. If you have a bad day, get over it, and get back on the horse tomorrow. It's not what you do on ONE day that counts, its the long term trend.....
8 - Hunger Management
You are going to have to work on this if you are going to succeed long term. Diets will leave people starving at 4pm, they'll then attack the cupboard when they get home. The idea is to always include good doses of both protein and fat at each meal so your blood sugar levels are nice and smooth, and you don't suffer from extreme hunger. Protein is the king here. Build your meals around protein. Just add some more protein at main meals, bit by bit, until you get yourself through from one meal to the next.
9 - Not balanced enough
This is my biggest gripe with most diets. They are not balanced, and they damage health long term because you risk not fueling your body adequately. Any diet that says fruit is bad for you - avoid. Any diet that says to never eat starchy carbs again - avoid. These foods, in context of a balanced diet, are healthy and contain fibre and nutrients essential for good health. You really do need your greens!
10 - Weird!
Yep - who wants to be branded as the food weirdo? Now please don't get me wrong, I love the different characters, the weirdos of the world, they are what makes the world go around. We need that colour and variety. But when if comes to your eating, are you really going to sustain some strange eating plan you found online that is based on 1-2 main foods and is quite frankly weird? I don't think so. Why undertake something that you just won't sustain and also makes you feel insecure or uncomfortable?
11 - Expensive stuff.
Diets based on supplements are not only hard to sustain due to the cost, but being based on non-food articles you'll be less likely to sustain it. I DO have clients using protein powders to help out with busy lifestyles and to assist in managing that hunger that can kick in towards the end of the working day - but generally it's all about real food. When I see a 'diet' that is based on expensive supplements, I know with 100% conviction that the person showing me their flash new diet will not be on that diet for long. ALSO - some of the companies peddling that stuff should be ashamed of what they charge. Just saying - get your mirror out!
12 - Taste and Enjoyment
Food should be enjoyed, it should be tasty, and it should be something you look forward to each day. I LOVE food, it's a highlight, and when I see clients who dread eating, it kind of breaks my heart! We need to build sustainable eating plans that we look forward to eating - that's the goal.
13 - Fat Loss Speed
Okay okay okay - anyone not seen The Biggest Loser? Those people are selected strategically because they are very very large, have body fat profiles that are more likely to lead to fast fat loss, and they are locked in camp 24/7. The problem here is, and I encounter this EVERY SINGLE DAY IN MY PRACTICE, is that we all think now that losing 3-4kg of body fat per week is to be expected. NO! Body fat takes a while to burn off, there is only so much you can burn. 0.5kg to 1kg per week is far more likely to see you succeed long term. People who take up diets offering faster than 1KG per week are doomed to fail. It's a long, slow process. Sorry but it just has to be said. Get your thinking right - plan on taking a good year or so, and if you have a month that sees you drop 2kg, of fat, and you also lose size around your waist, well done, that's a successful month. I say this because it's true - I care only about results and I know that fast loss is not smart and long term works against you.
14 - Wrong Measures!
Weight = muscle+ bone + water + blood + body fat + food in bowels etc etc. Why weigh yourself as your only measure? We are interested in body fat loss, not weight loss, so if you come across a diet or plan that is only talking about weight on the scales, run for your life. I really like clients to work on a few fitness measures, body measurements like waist and hips, and then if possible actual body fat percentage.
15 - Focusing on the wrong stuff
Sugar + alcohol + vegetable intake + fruit intake + protein intake + stress management + sleep optimization + YOU GET THE DRIFT. Let's widen the net, let's look at all aspects of Nutrition + Training + Hormonal aspects for fat loss.
In my practice I use a large checklist, that I've developed over 20 years, that delves into elements of your HORMONES + TRAINING + NUTRITION.
Again, this is because I'm totally obsessed simply with getting a result for clients. I learned a long time ago that just working on nutrition was a problem or just exercise was problem. My pet topic over the last 18 months has been hormones, and I now know that you can have the perfect dietary intake and exercise plan, and still achieve nothing if your hormonal status is out of whack.
If you do want to book a Training and Nutrition Package with me, where I work through all this and more for you, click HERE and I'll spend some time working with you.