Written by Jim McNerney Coaching Team

In the midsts of a pandemic may not seem like a good time to go on a diet, but maintaining proper weight and working on improving your nutrition while keeping yourself in shape can only help help build your resistance and shorten recovery times should you get sick.

But it seems like every year a new diet makes headlines that causes countless people to completely upend their lifestyles to try it, only for them to experience middling results at best. Diets don’t work, at least not for anyone who does not have the time, resources, and patience to undergo significant diagnostic testing to determine their exact nutritional needs and ideal diet.

If you have been struggling to lose weight and have tried diets in the past with little to no success, the reason behind these failures are likely more psychological than physical.

The Body-Brain Connection with Dieting

While a diet will certainly never lead to the same results for everyone who tries it, there are psychological reasons behind why diets don’t work.

Psychology Today writes:

“As weight loss programs, diets don’t work! Yes, you lose weight, but about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1 to 5 years. Since dieting, by definition, is a temporary food plan, it won’t work in the long run. Moreover, the deprivation of restrictive diets may lead to a diet-overeat or diet-binge cycle. And since your body doesn’t want you to starve, it responds to overly restrictive diets by slowing your metabolism, which of course makes it harder to lose weight.”

Essentially, when you start restricting your daily food intake suddenly, the body goes into a defensive mode. It may adapt to the new diet, but it will only do so temporarily. Virtually every diet comes with some type of restriction, and most people who follow a diet will start to overlook these restrictions once they notice the results they want to see.

The Dangers of Dieting

Following a strict diet can be damaging. Many of the most popular diets require cutting out foods that are rich in vital nutrients, and this can lead not only to damaging medical effects but also psychological ones. For example, some people develop a condition called orthorexia, or a compulsive obsession with healthy eating. Unfortunately, this condition rarely lends itself to positive outcomes and can be very destructive.

Diets can also lead to stress, which in turn can lead to binge-eating to satiate cravings and offset the discomfort a diet imposes. Instead of dieting that doesn’t work, adopting a few new habits and incorporating them into your lifestyle can have much better results.

What to Do Instead of Dieting

A few ways you can lose weight and meet your health goals without dieting include:

  • Cooking your own food. Eating out entails lots of precooked foods, unhealthy preservatives, and sometimes questionable preparation techniques. When you cook your own meals, you are likely using less sodium filled and more nutrient rich options. 
  • Adjusting your macronutrient ratio. The three basic macronutrients of your diet are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Try to adjust your intake and make protein the bulk of your diet. It’s more filling and can discourage you from eating excessive fats and carbs that make you gain weight.
  • Drink more water. Hydration is essential for a healthy metabolism. Sugary drinks, sodas, and juices simply don’t offer your body what water does. Try increasing your water intake to see how it influences your metabolism.

Avoid the stress and damage that dieting causes and still meet your health goals. If you need help, work with a health coach who can keep you on track and provide the accountbaility that we all need.