Do you think diets actually work? This was a question someone posed to me.
They work if they put you in a calorie deficit. They don’t work when you’re not in a calorie deficit.
Researchers conducted a study with more than 21,000 overweight and obese participants. They compared the effects of 14 popular diets on weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk. Some of the diets included in the study were.
- Multiple low-fat diets
- Multiple low carb diets
- Weight watchers
- A complete list of all the diets in the study
What they found was that after six months each diet helped the majority of participants lose weight and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Not one diet stood head and shoulders above the others as there were little differences in the results.
All diets are designed to work and can help you achieve weight loss in a short period of time. But maintaining a weight loss is an entirely separate effort that needs to be addressed differently. To both lose weight and keep it off a few things need to happen.
Do diets actually work? They do if you adhere to them.
You have to be able to adhere to your diet, nutrition plan, way of eating most of the time. Let’s say 80%.
Most of us are not models or bodybuilders and following a diet, 100% of the time isn’t necessary. But we do need to eat in a way that supports our goals most of the time.
Your diet needs to include foods you actually enjoy. To help increase adherence your environment should be set up so that it makes some choices easier to do and others more difficult. If you’re trying to rely on motivation and willpower to get you through it you’re going to lose that battle in the long run.
Do diets actually work? They do if you account for calories
If you’re gaining weight it’s because you’re eating too much even if you think you’re not. While you don’t have to count calories to be successful, calories do count. To create more calorie awareness start learning more about your food.
- Read labels and look at things like serving sizes, calories in a serving size, protein, carbs, and fats
- If it doesn’t have a label lookup nutrition information online using sites like nutrition data.
- Experiment with using a food scale and weighing portion sizes
- Learn more about what foods are proteins, carbs, and fats
Do diets actually work? Eat a serving of protein at meals helps
Studies like this from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition are showing high protein diets are effective for weight loss. This could be due to increased satiation from the meal.
- Men, start with 2 palms per meal. This is 40-60 grams of protein per meal.
- Women, start with 1 palm per meal. This is 20-30 grams of protein per meal
Do diets actually work? Not if you quit
One meal off-plan and one missed workout don’t ruin your results. Just like one workout and one perfect meal doesn’t dramatically increase progress.
Please read that again ⬆️
And one more time so it really sinks in ⬆️
This shit takes time. Health and fitness are a long game and while taking it day by day is a great strategy seeing the bigger picture for health is just as important.
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman has a beautiful quote I love.
‘Add some zeros to it.’ There is not any one thing you can do that will be enough to get you the results you want. For example, working out at the gym one time isn’t going to help you lose a lot of weight. However, if you add some zeros to it, and repeat that one workout 100 times or 1,000 times, you’re going to get somewhere.It starts with that single workout or meal.
But it’s that workout or meal repeated over time that leads to results, and the good news is you don’t need to be perfect to be successful. You just need to be good enough over time.
Make it about more than weight loss (or muscle)
For some reason, so many people feel if they’re making certain choices and it’s not leading to results what’s the point.
Why go for a walk if I’m not losing weight?
What’s the point of cooking a homemade balanced plate if it doesn’t lead to results needs to be about more than just weight loss.
One of the best tools I’ve found for finding your deep reason comes in the form of two questions.
#1: If the future persisted exactly as it is now, what would that be like? What would be the worst part of that?
I know, kind of stings a little bit doesn’t it? Embrace that discomfort. Sit with it for a minute.
#2: What are the good things about ________ (losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more)?
*** NOTE ***
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Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash