What diet really works?
Some of them?
All of them?
None of them?
Let me share a little fact- I’ve gained and lost weight on over a dozen different types of diets. High Carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, No Carb, No fat, high protein, low protein, vegetarian, vegan, raw food, and a bunch I care not to mention.
We’ve also coached 1000’s of people who’ve struggled losing weight on virtually every diet out there and we found something wrong which I will reveal in this article.
Here’s what the typical pattern looks like for these individuals.
One day you find out you have a public event to attend, wedding, reunion, a beach holiday or some other public event and when you try on your favorite outfit… suddenly it doesn’t fit.
First there’s the disbelief, the awful feeling, the memories of late night dinners, extra deserts and those all to frequent decadent snacks.
Finally, an admission… “I’ve been off track.
Then comes the intention to change.
Next thing you know you’re back on a diet plan.
Whether this is the first time you’re dieting or you’ve been on and off more plans than you can remember, the same trend usually prevails.
You start out that diet hopefully.
Ready to see some serious results.
Three weeks later, you’re wondering where it all went wrong.
The fact of the matter is that virtually every single diet out there has some flaw that will prevent you from seeing the results you desire – and, if you are one of those people giving a good effort, deserve.
Now, if you’re someone who’s on your diet plan and treats yourself to the odd piece of cake, a slice of pizza, and a nightly chocolate bar, I think deep down you already know your problem.
I’m not going to address that here because all you really need is a good reality check.
But if you’re someone who is working hard, who is following their plan, who is staying consistent but yet you are still not seeing the results you want, this is for you.
Diet’s don’t work.
Don’t believe me?
I’ve got 50 reasons that speak otherwise. Before we go further though, I suggest checking out the following video, which explains briefly the problem with most of the ‘fad’ diet approaches out there.
Okay, so maybe you aren’t on a fad diet so you think, surely your diet must be better.
Not so fast.
As I said above, virtually EVERY diet has flaws. I’m going to provide it. Below you will find 50 reasons why your diet sucks. I don’t care if you’re on the latest low carb diet, a fat free diet, a fasting diet, or the peanut butter diet (yes, it is a REAL thing!), there are problems at play.
First let’s talk about issues with diets in general and then let me break it down for you, diet by diet. Find your particular diet and see why it’s going to hold you back.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the very end where I tell you the one thing you MUST do now to fix this problem.
50 Reasons Your Weight Loss Diet Sucks
Before we dive into specific diet protocols, let’s talk diets in general. All diets will have some commonalities, so this applies to everyone right now who is currently on a diet plan.
- Diets lead to hunger.
Being in a severe caloric deprival state is going to lead to ongoing hunger – often more than people can tolerate. Eventually you’ll give in and when you do, it’ll be with a vengeance.
- Diets lead to food obsessions.
Find yourself constantly obsessing about food while on your diet? You aren’t alone. Food fixation is very common on highly restrictive approaches. Over time, this only makes it harder to stick with the diet plan.
- Diets can lead to distorted eating behaviors.
Some people may even go so far to develop distorted eating behaviors. Be it anorexia, bulimia, or just binge eating disorder, many of these are developed out of a diet plan.
- Diets put you at risk for lean muscle mass.
With fewer nutrients (including protein!) coming in, you’ll be at a high risk for lean muscle mass loss. Lose muscle and you’ll get weaker.
Not to mention, look flabbier. Muscle gives you the fit muscle ‘tone’ most people are looking for.
- Diets hamper sleep quality.
Another restless night? It could be due to your diet plan. Sleep quality will suffer when in a hypocalorie state for too long.
Add those obsessions about food and it only gets worse.
Not to mention, going to bed hungry is something that 0% of the population enjoys.
Your growling stomach may be so loud at night, it keeps you up.
- Diets lead to feelings of psychological deprival.
You say no to pasta.
You say no to bread.
You say no to beef.
You say no to peanut butter.
All that saying no will wear you down. Take my word for it. If it feels like you say no more often than you ever say yes to foods you enjoy, this will get to you.
- Diets cause you to lose friends.
Half joking on this one. While your best friends should understand, it’s not abnormal to be more snappy when on a diet plan.
Say a few too many wrong things and feelings will get hurt. Sometimes, so much so you can’t mend the situation.
- Diets may preclude you from social situations.
If you have a very strict and regimented diet plan, say good-bye to dinners out with a friend.
Yeah… that isn’t happening any time soon.
- Diets cause you to disobey natural hunger.
‘Clock-watching’ is all too common on many diet plans. If your diet forces you to eat, hungry or not, at certain points during the day, eventually this will backfire.
Soon you’ll become completely disconnected from natural hunger cues, which will only lead to a lack of eating to maintain your body weight into the future.
- Diets put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Cutting entire food groups out of your plan? Do so at your own risk. Remember, your body needs a variety of nutrients on a daily basis. This means foods from all groups need to be included in your diet.
- Diets slow your metabolic rate down.
Go too low-cal for too long and your metabolism will begin to crash. With it, all fat burning will come to a halt.
Ever been stuck in a progress plateau?
This is what’s going on here.
- Diets may cause long-term fat gain.
If you lose muscle and slow your metabolic rate (both of which are possible as illustrated above), it’s only a matter of time before fat gain takes place. As soon as you come off that diet (which you know you will), it’s going to happen.
Mark my word.
Now let’s look a little more at the problems associated with some of the specific diet protocols out there.
Low Carb Nazi’s
I call them Nazi’s because it will seriously feel like you are in a concentration camp. For 90% of the people out there, very low carb diet plans suuuck. They will cause you to feel miserable and sure, they say you’ll eventually adapt, but many people never do.
Here’s why you should avoid this group of diets.
- Poor exercise performance.
No carbs = no energy to train. Intense exercise relies on glucose for fuel and that glucose comes from carbs.
- Significantly altered leptin levels.
Leptin, a hormone that is primarily responsible for establishing your metabolic rate is heavily reliant on carb intake. If you cut carbs too low for too long, leptin will drop and with it, your daily calorie burn.
Not to mention you will be:
Essentially, your life will quickly become miserable.
- Lack of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is predominantly found in carbohydrate-rich foods. If you’re on a diet so low in carbs it restricts how many vegetables you can eat (such as the Atkin’s or Ketogenic approach), you know your dietary fiber will be insufficient.
And, dietary fiber is a must for everything from heart-health to diabetes prevention.
You should never be without it.
Speaking of lack of dietary fiber, that’ll land you in another rather unpleasant situation: long-term constipation.
Now not only are you hungry and tired, but you’re backed up too.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
- Two words: brain fog.
Your brain runs on glucose so anytime you restrict it, your brain simply won’t function optimally.
If you feel like you’re half-dazed during your 10a.m. meeting and nothing is getting you out of it, you’re experiencing brain fog at work.
The only route out is to do one thing: consume carbs.
- Lowered immune function.
Carbohydrates are also essential for keeping your immune system strong. They provide energy your body needs to fight off disease and invading viruses.
Plus, a high level of antioxidants are found in carbohydrate rich foods. Meaning, cut those out and you could find yourself falling ill more frequently.
- Relentless hunger.
While a select few people experience no hunger at all on low carb diets, most people are not so luck.
The vast majority of people will experience ongoing hunger that never seems to let up.
That’s right – depression. While you may not become clinically depressed on a low carb diet, don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll be bright and cheery. Carbohydrates cause the release of serotonin in the brain, which is a feel good neurotransmitter that is highly responsible for your moods.
Without it, you won’t be feeling like your normal self.
The Low Fat Diet Gang
Now we have the low fat diet gang. This herd of dieters avoids fats at all costs. More than 3 grams in a given food? Steer clear!
Problems are abundant with this diet as well.
- Plummeting testosterone.
Cut fat and watch your testosterone plummet. With it, your strength, lean muscle mass, and generally feelings of being a man. Studies clearly illustrate that low fat diets decrease testosterone.
- Relentless hunger.
Just as hunger is highly probable on low-carb diets, it’s just as probable on diets too low in fat. Adding just 5 grams of fat per meal can dramatically decrease hunger between meals.
(image of someone starving)
- Lack of food satiety
Which also brings us to satiety. Without any fat in your diet, don’t be surprised if it tastes like cardboard.
Fat adds taste and texture – both necessary for overall satiety.
- Dull hair, skin, and nails.
Without fat, kiss your good looks good-bye. Fat-rich foods contain the key vitamins and minerals to help give you a flowing complexion.
- Menstrual irregularities.
Just as testosterone levels decline in men, menstrual irregularities will result in women. Fats are required for proper baby production. Therefore, if you aren’t getting enough, your body will stop your ability to produce that baby.
- Reliance on processed foods.
Those who follow fat-free diets are more prone to choosing processed foods.
Fat free cookies? You bet!
Fat free ice cream? You can’t wait!
Fat free chocolate? It’s a dream come true!
This can lead to more weight gain than weight loss.
- Increased triglyceride levels
People make fat the ‘bad guy’ as far as heart health is concerned, but the right fats actually boost heart health.
Cut them out while raising your intake of refined carbs and you could see your triglyceride levels increase.
- Nutritional deficiencies
Vitamins A, D, E, and K. All fat soluble vitamins you’ll be missing out on if you remove all fat from your plan. This is simply not a healthy diet.
The paleo approach is all the ‘rage’ right now with so many people diving on board and shunning anything that doesn’t come from the wild or Mother Nature.
But, it too is riddled with problems. While it does have many benefits going for it, adjustments should be made.
- Lack of energy for intense physical activity.
Here again, carbs = energy for exercise. On a paleo diet, your primary carb sources are fruit and veggies.
You’ll be hard-pressed getting enough energy for very intense workouts from that.
- Bone-health risks.
Dairy is abolished in the paleo plan, which means your calcium intake may drop critically low.
This can set you up for years of bone-related health problems down the road.
- Weight gain if not careful.
All that reliance on natural fats like nuts and oils can add up quickly.
Eat too many and you’ll be on a one-way track to weight gain.
- Food obsessiveness.
Something about the paleo approach trains people to think of certain foods as ‘superior’ than others.
Start believing this and you might just find yourself getting overly obsessive.
Whether you’re on the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet, or some other approach that utilizes some specific food ratios to form your meals, you’re in for problems.
- Restriction to a few different meals.
If you have to plan out your meals to contain 30% protein, 30% carbs, and 40% fats, that’s a heck of a lot of work.
You eat the same 5-10 meals over and over again. It’s just easier.
In the process though, you set yourself up for nutritional deficiency (not to mention serious food boredom!)
- Obsessive planning requirement.
See above. Plan to spend every spare hour you have during the day planning out your meals to meet the requirements of this plan.
Can you say boring?
- Lack of flexibility.
If you must hit that 30/30/40 ratio (or whatever yours happens to be) each and every meal, you can plan on forgoing any restaurant meals anytime soon.
- Reliance on pre-made meals.
Because planning can be such a nightmare, many of these zone approaches offer pre-made bars and meals. It takes the planning out of things for you.
…which is great, but gets very costly and doesn’t teach you how to properly choose real and nutritious food.
Are you going to eat bars forever?
Popular among ‘health enthusiasts’, there are a few problems to know about with the Mediterranean diet as well. Don’t be so quick to think that just because it’s been demonstrated that these people tend to have lower risk for cardiovascular disease, it’s the gold-standard to follow.
- Lack of dietary calcium.
Dairy is heavily restricted in this plan as well, meaning calcium is at a premium. If you aren’t eating a whole lot of spinach, count yourself at risk for bone problems.
- Potential for mercury toxicity.
Fish is recommended in abundance in this plan. And while fish is great, too much of the wrong fish could set you up for mercury toxicity.
One needs to be very careful when making their selections with this approach.
- Risk of iron deficiency.
As red meat is shunned on this approach, and that is the primary source of iron in today’s diet, you may find yourself fatiguing more easily.
This is a sure-sign of iron deficiency anemia.
- Risk for weight gain
With the over-abundance of olive oil encouraged in this plan, don’t be shocked if you see the scales tilting upward.
Another hot trend that’s really picked up lately is intermittent fasting. Done in either full day or part-day fasts with an ‘eating window’, these diets spark some interest as they are so different.
Remember, different isn’t always good.
- Restrictive in social situations.
Your friends ask you out to eat lunch.
But you don’t eat until 7pm that night (or at all that day!).
- Can lead to binge eating tendencies.
Fitting 2000 calories in a 6-hour eating window is a lot of high calorie eating.
And this can set you up for binge tendencies. These eating-window approaches to intermittent fasting are virtually just 6-hour long food binges.
This is not healthy for the long term.
(Not to mention can cause serious digestive strain).
- Requires a restrictive exercise plan.
Don’t plan on exercising on days you fast as you simply won’t have the energy.
- May promote poor food choices.
2000 calories in 6 hours? Many people will simply opt to eat a whole pizza.
Because they can.
It’s easy to lose sight of healthy eating on these approaches.
- Can lead to long-term hunger issues.
While some may adopt fine to fasting all day, not everyone will.
Those who don’t will likely experience serious hunger related issues.
Food Combining Diets
If a diet is having you combine one specific food with another because together, they offer ‘fat loss superpowers’, you might want to rethink this diet. There is no voodoo magic when it comes to nutrition.
- Not backed by science.
There is no scientific study that proves eating one specific food with another specific food will lead to superior weight loss.
Sure, eating protein with carbs can stabilize blood sugar, but these are general food groups.
There’s nothing magical by eating a grapefruit with a salad.
- Leads to unhealthy beliefs about foods.
Believers of food combining are often exposed to all kinds of crazy nutrition myths that may steer you wrong for years to come.
- May cause issues related to blood sugar.
If your special ‘food combinations’ ignore the principle of eating balanced meals, this could lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes very easily.
- Often requires limited food variety.
Many food combining diets are so specific, you’ll be feasting on 10-20 foods over the course of the week.
This is bound to get boring – not to mention also set you up for nutritional deficiency.
- Is inflexible for daily living.
Are you going to ask for your specific food combinations when you go to your parents house for holiday dinners?
….Didn’t think so.
The ONE Simple Thing You MUST Do Now
So you’ve read it all. You see that your diet is just not lined up properly.
This is the first step. The longer you were in denial, the harder this change would be.
So right now, what you need to do is ditch short-term dieting.
Just say no. You will NOT lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks (or even 4 weeks for that matter!).
Instead, you must change your frame of mind. A nutrition plan is what you want. When you say nutrition plan, this implies something that lasts forever.
And that, my friends, is what you want here. No 21 day transformation plans or the 5-week fix that you may be on with your friends right now.
All of these have an end in sight.
And while I’m not telling you not to set goals with deadlines for yourself, you have to get out of this frame of mind that you are going to make changes that only last for xyz number of days.
You want to make permanent changes.
The best way to do this is to start focusing on nourishing your body. When you think short-term, you’re thinking in terms of aesthetics. Drop 10 pounds. Lose 3 inches. Fit into your skinny jeans! (hurrah!)
When you think about nutrition plans, you think lower your blood pressure, regain lost energy, improve your heart-health – things that will stick with you forever.
These are things that you need to work towards every single day of your life. Rain or shine. Young or old. A nutrition plan will provide that.
So ditch dieting. Just say good-bye forever.
Trust me, if you do this, you’ll not only NOT miss all those miserable times you spent on diets in the past, but you’ll actually see better results as well.
That I can promise you.
Now it’s your turn. I want to hear from you. What is the worst dieting experience you’ve ever had? What diet plan were you happy to put in YOUR past?
Estruch, Ramón, et al. “Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet.” New England Journal of Medicine 368.14 (2013): 1279-1290.
Dorgan, Joanne F., et al. “Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 64.6 (1996): 850-855.