Diets Don’t Work

diets don't work picThere are tons of diets to follow out there.  Southbeach, Zone, Atkins, HCG, the list goes on and on.  I’m sure you’ve probably tried one before, right?  How did that go?  Did it work?  And if it did, how long did the results last?

Typical Diet Results

I’m guessing it’s either happened to you or someone you know.  You start a new diet, see some success, but eventually you get tired of not eating certain foods and give into cravings.  Sometimes it’s one meal and sometimes you fall completely off the wagon.

That’s when the yo-yo effect comes into play.  Not only do you gain back the weight you initially lost, you might even end up putting on more.  When you fall off the wagon, it can be a hard landing.  And if you just “don’t care” for a while and eat whatever you want it ends up putting quite a bit of weight on you.

So why does that happen?

I think it’s so common to see results like those when you go on a diet, because most diets focus on either specific foods that you can eat, specific foods that you can’t eat, or a combination of both.  It’s all about restrictions.

If you follow those restrictions of course you’re going to lose some weight.  Why?  Because typically you’re cooking all your own foods and the foods on the “can eat” list are all healthy.  That’s really not rocket science.

But what that does is make you crave the things you can’t have.  It’s psychological just as much as physiological.  You know you can’t have certain foods and that just makes you want them more.  So when you do eat them, you end up on a big binge.  And that can create a very unhealthy cycle and relationship with food.

Not just that, but being “on a diet” also implies that it’s a temporary thing.  What are you going to do when the diet ends?  Go back to your old eating habits?  That will just make you regain all the weight you lost, and maybe even more.

If Diets Don’t Work, What Does?

So if those typical, restrictive diets don’t work, then what does?  You can’t just eat whatever you want all the time, right?  Well that’s right, you can’t eat just whatever you want all the time and expect to be healthy.

What I’ve found that really works well is flexible dieting.  You don’t have any restrictions on foods that you have to or can’t eat.  How I approach it is set a caloric goal, the percentage of carbs/protein/fat that I want to eat every day and then eat whatever foods I want that fit the bill.  I just adjust the caloric goal and the percentages based on my goals.  If I want to build muscle, I’ll up my calories and percentage of carbs.  If I want to lose fat, I’ll lower the calories and up the percentage of protein.

This is also popularly known as IIFYM, which I wrote about here.  It’s been growing more and more popular lately.  I think many people have been eating this way, it just wasn’t ever articulated.  I started eating like that almost 3 years before I even heard the term.  The bottom line is that when you don’t restrict yourself to certain foods that you can or can’t eat you set yourself up for success.  You prevent a cycle of binge eating and maintain a good relationship with your food.  That way you create a sustainable lifestyle change that will help you maintain a healthy weight without all the ups and downs.

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