Why diets don’t work

Why is it that virtually everyone who loses weight while on a diet puts the weight back on just as quickly as they lost it?

And why is it that virtually everyone who goes on a diet doesn’t lose any weight over the long term, and usually ends up heavier?

The simple reason is that diets don’t work. Here’s why…

When you lose weight, the weight loss can come from fat, muscle, water, and bone tissue. For the best health we want all of the weight loss to come from fat. We don’t want to lose the others because they can adversely affect our health.

Losing muscle makes us weaker while also making it harder to maintain any weight loss results because muscle burns plenty of calories.

Losing water can leave you dehydrated, lacking energy, and suffering from more headaches. Losing bone tissue makes your bones weaken quicker as you get older leaving you more susceptible to illness and serious injury.

On the other hand, losing fat actually improves your health, makes your body function more efficiently, and gives you the best chance of living a long and health life. So for the best health and the best long term weight loss results we ONLY want to be losing fat.

To lose one pound of fat you need to burn around 3500 calories more than you consume. This means that if you burned 500 calories per day more than you consumed, then over a week you would lose around one pound of fat. This is realistic!

But what about those quick weight loss diets?

I’ve heard diets say things like…

  • “Lose 11 pounds in 11 days”
  • “Lose 10 pounds in a week”

Well let’s take a look at the second example of losing 10 pounds in a week to see what this really means and what’s really happening to your body.

If you want to lose 10 pounds of fat then you would have to burn around 35,000 calories more than you consume (10 x 3500). Remember that we want to lose all our weight from fat for the best health.

Now let’s say that you normally consume 2000 calories per day, but you decided not to eat for a full week. By doing this you would save 14,000 calories (2000 x 7) which goes towards your weight loss target.

But you still need to burn an extra 21,000 calories (35,000 – 14,000) over the week to reach your 10 pounds of fat weight loss target.

The average runner burns just over 100 calories per mile so maybe you should start running about 200 miles per week to burn these extra 21,000 calories. Of course you wouldn’t have any energy do this because you would have been starving yourself all week.

Can you see how crazy it is to think that someone can lose 10 pounds in a week and expect it to be healthy weight loss due to all the weight loss coming from fat?

The reality is that losing weight quickly is very unhealthy weight loss

That’s because you’re not just losing weight from fat but also from muscle, water, and bone tissue which is exactly what we don’t want.

Most of the weight loss would actually come from water. This is because when you reduce your energy intake too much or go on a low carbohydrate diet, your body uses up more of its carbohydrate stores, and carbohydrates hold onto water. So when your carbohydrate stores goes down, you also lose lots of water from your body.

That’s why low carbohydrate diets can produce quick weight loss results even though they’re really just a short term fix and a waste of your time. When you come off the diet, your body replenishes itself with carbohydrates and water and therefore the weight comes back on just as quickly as you lost it.

So that’s why diets don’t work and why they are in fact bad for your health

The problem people have is that they get sucked in by figures like “lose 10 pounds in a week”. They are so eager to lose their weight quickly that they jump onboard without even questioning the validity or safety of the diet.

Yes you could lose some weight quickly, feel terrible, and be depriving yourself of valuable nutrients that your body needs to keep healthy. But then as soon as you resume anything like normal eating, the weight comes straight back on, and you’re left with poorer health than before.

Losing weight like this what’s known as the “yo-yo effect” because your weight keeps going down each time you try a new diet and then back up. How demoralising is that?

What’s even worse is that very often people put on more weight than before they started the diet. That’s because when you lose weight quickly you also lose plenty of muscle, but when you regain the weight you may not get all of this muscle back.

Remember that muscle burns plenty of calories. So if you gain the weight back and have less muscle than before the diet but more fat, then your body will burn fewer calories. Therefore, you’ll gain even more weight.

Plus you would have a weaker body due to having less muscle, and an unhealthier body due to having more fat.

The thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as a free ride

When you’ve put the weight on over months or years you can’t expect to lose the weight in weeks or a few months, and be able to keep it off.

Quicker is definitely not better when losing weight, that’s if you want to lose the weight and keep it off for the rest of your life.

I say to avoid those demoralising experiences where your weight goes down and up like a yo-yo while you waste away precious years of your life.

Lose weight the right way, and the most enjoyable way, which is with quality exercise and having a healthy diet. If you would like some help from me with this then I recommend taking a look at my Classes and Personal Training.

James Porter