Why Diets Don't Work
We all know someone who has 50 pounds to lose and has been on one diet or another for the past 10 years.
For some reason the pounds never go away. Perhaps this person is you. Diets may work temporarily, and you shed those unwanted pounds. However, as soon as begin to eat normally, your weight climbs right back up. We wanted to know exactly why diets don’t work. Is it because of a lack of willpower, or are diets designed to keep us failing?
Diets Are Temporary
Psychology Today discusses how diets are temporary eating habits. Most people who lose weight on a diet regain all the weight in 1 to 5 years and by most people, we mean close to 95%. That’s a huge failure rate. Aside from being a temporary eating plan, diets are also extremely restrictive. The restrictiveness of most diets leads to a dieting and over eating or dieting and binging cycle. These cycles can cause you to gain weight. Also, the deprivation of calories can slow your metabolism making it harder to lose weight.
Diets Slow Weight Loss
It may seem like it’s counterintuitive, but in reality, diets make it harder to lose weight. The reason this happens is because of stress. The Psychology of Eating discusses how weight loss efforts increased hormones like cortisol. Cortisol is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain as it helps your body store fat. Cortisol causes several different physiological changes, the biggest one affecting your metabolism and body weight.
You Notice Food More
The funny part about being on a diet it feels like you’re always hungry. It turns out that there is some scientific evidence that proves this is true. According to a Washington Post article neurological changes occur during a diet that cause your brain to notice food more often than it would had you not been dieting.
These neurological changes don’t just make you notice food more often, but they make it more tempting as well. Somehow dieting increases the reward value of food. Therefore, your ability to resist the temptation is overcome by the neurological drive to eat. It no longer becomes a question of willpower because your brain overrides your willpower. The neurological changes literally force you to eat the food.
Your Brain Won’t Accept It
Another theory on the reason that diets don’t work is the set point theory. In an article featured on NPR, Sandra Aamodt discusses the reality that our brains have a certain set point (a weight ranging from 10 to 15 pounds). Your brain likes this set point, so yo-yo dieters will always go down and then back up to the set point. The brain can easily accept new set points at a higher weight, but rarely accepts a new set point at a lower weight.
Sandra Aamodt argues that the brain will adjusted set point only when it is given the proper tools to do so. Ditching dieting and embraced mindful eating are the two strategies that Aamodt suggests are successful when attempting to regulate weight. Other than that, the stresses of dieting do not allow the body to regulate its weight effectively.
Whether you’re struggling with 50 pounds to lose, or 5 pounds, dieting is not the answer. Dieting only serves to stress your body and lower your metabolism. The effects of the stress of dieting on your body can wreak havoc on your hormones, like cortisol, causing you to gain fat rather than lose it. Adjusting your eating habits to healthy and mindful eating will be far more effective than any fad diet.
Allowing your body to have the resources it needs to function while reducing weight will cause weight loss. Depriving your body of essential nutrients and food when attempting to lose weight will only cause neurological, physiological, and psychological changes that prevent you from being successful.
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