We all like to look svelte. We care about being healthy. So, when we try a new diet and start to lose weight, it’s exciting! We feel attractive, sexy and confident. If seeing those pounds disappear makes us so happy, why don’t we keep going? The shocking answer is that most diets are doomed to fail from day one.
Why Don’t Diets Work?
Diets are like trying to use a fork to eat soup: a lot of effort for nothing. Here are three reasons why.
1. To Your Body, “No” Means “I Want It Now!”
Have you ever tried telling a toddler not to eat a cookie? How did that work out? Chances are, the second you turned your back, your little one had an innocent-looking, smiling face smeared in chocolate.
When it comes to food temptations, we’re all like kids. The moment a diet tells us that we can’t eat any carbs, fat or desserts, those things are all we can think about.
One study found that people who were told not to eat favorite snack foods actually ended up eating 130% more compared to people who just ate what they wanted. In other words, diets that ban food groups backfire.
2. Most Diets Are About Punishing Yourself, Not Rewarding Yourself
Many of the problems with diets are as much emotional as physical. That’s the case with your brain’s reward system. Basically, you’re more likely to do things that make you feel happy. And right off the bat, diets go against that feeling.
They're not fun. They feel like you’re punishing yourself. Sooner or later, it's just not worth the hassle.
Also, when you’re stressed, your body makes you crave junk food. So any diet that stresses you — basically all of them — increases your cravings for high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods.
3. Extreme Diets Ruin Your Metabolism
Scientists are starting to realize that the human body simply wasn’t designed to go on diets. It fights back. That’s what happens when people slash calories suddenly. Your metabolism — the system that burns fat and turns it into energy — slows down and tries to hold onto every last pound.
A slow metabolim makes it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. Burning calories becomes like trying to run a marathon on the beach with a pair of weights tied to your legs.
How Can You Lose Weight?
The secret to losing weight is to not diet. I call it the anti-diet. It’s basically about doing the exact opposite of those problems we talked about: not punishing yourself, not going to extremes and not counting calories constantly.
Write down your motivation. You need a reason to eat healthy foods and exercise more. The best goals are more about how you feel than numbers on a bathroom scale.
Make healthy eating something enjoyable. Prepare nutritious foods that taste great. Fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, protein, herbs and spices are all winners. Invite friends over for a barbecue. Really celebrate good eating.
When you’re hungry, eat. Snack on almonds, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola and other things you love during the day. Protein is filling and delicious.
Be balanced. Follow a good routine in different areas of life, not just food. Sleep more. Go for a walk when you feel stressed. Make time to relax.
When you live this way, you start to build healthy habits. It takes a little longer to burn pounds, but this time, the weight stays off for good!