Why Diets Don’t Work & What to Do Instead

If Diets Don’t Work, What Does?
Nutrition
Written By:
Adrien
Paczosa
RD
LD
CEDRD-S

Diet culture is deeply entrenched in the collective psyche of humankind. Around the world, media-defined beauty standards contribute to the prioritization of specific body types and physical features, resulting in a desperate need to “fit in.”

Everyone seems to have a trick or tip for losing weight and advertising campaigns constantly reaffirm the idea that our bodies aren’t desirable the way they are. In fact, 68 percent of women say they feel worse about their own appearance after looking through women's magazines and 88 percent say they compare themselves to images they see on social media.

This never-ending indoctrination we’re subjected to leaves us believing there’s just one solution to our problem — dieting.

Whether it’s the ketogenic diet, weight loss pills, cutting carbs, juice cleanses, or calorie-counting apps, there’s always another fad that promises to deliver your “dream body” and boost your confidence. The problem? Diets don’t work!

A whopping 97 percent of people gain back everything they lost and then some within 3 years of beginning a diet, proving they aren’t the key to achieving long-term weight loss or a sustainable healthy lifestyle. They’re just a band-aid solution, and a potentially dangerous one at that!

But if diets don’t work, what does?

It’s a valid question, and one we’ll be answering in this blog post. But before we get started, let’s dig a little deeper into the nature of diets and the reasons why they fail to produce the long-lasting results most people are looking for.

3 Reasons Why Diets Don’t Work

The main reason why diets don’t work is that they focus on one thing — weight loss. When you focus on weight loss, you miss the bigger picture goal which is improving long-term health. 

Want more specific reasons why diets don’t work? Here’s are three of the top reasons you’re not seeing results:

1. Diets Intensify Cravings

No, you aren’t just imagining those freshly-baked fudge brownies are calling your name — they actually are more appealing when you’re restricting what you eat! Studies show that people who are dieting experience more intense cravings and struggle to resist them more than people who aren’t watching what they eat.

It is important to note that food cravings are linked to a wide variety of underlying causes, such as stress, pregnancy, low blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, and vitamin deficiencies. But, more often than not, cravings are much simpler than that — they’re simply your body’s way of telling you it’s either not getting enough of something it needs, or it’s getting too much of something it doesn’t need. 

Restrictive diets often eliminate certain foods entirely and this is rarely an ideal approach. Most people thrive with a balanced diet — they just need to learn how to create one.

2. Diets Slow Your Metabolism

Another reason why dieting doesn’t work is that it messes with your body’s natural metabolic process. We all have a basal metabolic rate (BMR), or a minimum number of calories we burn simply by resting and existing. Our basal metabolic rate is influenced by many different factors, including our age, level of physical activity, our lifestyle habits (i.e. smoking, drinking, etc.) and genetics. 

Restrictive diets and inconsistent eating habits actually lower our BMR and make it more difficult to burn calories, because our body mistakenly believes we are starving and shifts into a protective state, storing more of your caloric intake as fat in an effort to help you preserve energy.

3. Diets Don’t Account For Your Unique Nutritional Requirements

Have you ever found yourself thinking “No diets work for me” or “I’m done trying to lose weight”? If so, you aren’t alone. But before you throw in the towel on your health and fitness journey there’s something you should know — you’re right! Diets don’t work because every person’s dietary needs are unique. But a customized nutrition and exercise plan that accounts for your unique nutritional requirements absolutely will.

Diets tend to be one-size-fits-most plans that don’t account for your unique situation — your medical history, lifestyle, and preferences. Who really wants to eat kale for breakfast?!

Either way, most diets that don’t work because they aren’t personalized to your individual needs. You need a solution that’s made for you and only you!

If Diets Don’t Work, What Does?

This is the burning question on every dieter’s mind. When you’ve tried every “miracle solution” on the market without much luck, it can start to feel like you’ll never reach your health goals — but don’t lose hope just yet. Now that you know why restrictive diets don’t work, let’s focus on how to establish healthy, sustainable lifestyle changes that are science-based and proven to produce results.

Here’s what works:

1. Asking Your Healthcare Provider for a Full Checkup

The basis of any successful nutrition program is knowing your body and its unique wellness needs. Your physician can order blood work, conduct physical examinations, and review your medical history to determine whether or not you have any deficiencies, or any underlying health conditions that require a specific dietary regimen.

2. Working With a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

This is a critical step for anyone wondering “Why don’t diets work?” A registered dietitian nutritionist is certified and licensed to treat clinical conditions by implementing and overseeing personalized nutrition plans. They hold a university degree and take a scientific approach to helping clients achieve their greater wellness goals.

Your registered dietitian will consider all relevant data when putting together your personalized nutrition plan, ensuring it meets both your current and future dietary and lifestyle needs

They’ll also support you along the way, offering real-time guidance and adjustments based on your specific path and progress.

Last but not least, a registered dietitian nutritionist will help you address the root of any unhealthy nutritional behaviors or barriers to wellness. Whether it’s emotional eating, nighttime snacking, or financial insecurity which impacts your ability to buy produce or other perishable goods — your RD will dig deep into your nutritional habits and help you find solutions that work.

3. Remaining Consistent

Despite all the magazines and social media accounts that claim you can “melt fat away” or “slim down before summer”, there’s no such thing as a quick solution when it comes to reaching your health and wellness goals.

The true solution? Being consistent in your efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes. The goal is to remain consistent the majority of the time, but to also allow yourself a little bit of flexibility so you don’t feel restricted, as it will only intensify your cravings and make it more difficult to sustain your new lifestyle. 

Let’s be honest, consistency is hard and developing new behaviors around food is even harder. We don’t expect you to be perfect and will never ask you to be perfect. We ask you to show up and talk with us about what is going on in your life so we can work together to make those lasting lifestyle changes.

Take a New Approach With Nourish

At Nourish, we understand how frustrating it is when you’re struggling to meet your health goals. Our goal is to help people find affordable nutrition care and simplify food, so everyone can feel their best.

Here’s How We Can Help:

1. Connecting You With the Right Registered Dietitian for You

Our growing network of online registered dietitians cover every major specialty, including diabetes, kidney disease, vegan/vegetarian diets, food allergies, eating disorders, thyroid disorders, and more. We’ll conduct a thorough intake assessment to determine which registered dietitian best suits your needs and ensure you get the most out of your experience. 

2. Making Meetings Easy With Telehealth Services

Our industry-leading registered dietitians are located across the country, but we don’t believe that should hold you back from receiving world-class care, which is why we’ve invested in state-of-the-art telehealth technology to make connecting easier than ever before. You can meet with your RDN from the comfort of your own home in a way that’s still interactive and engaging!

3. Keeping Costs Low With Insurance Coverage

You deserve access to quality nutritional care, regardless of your financial situation. All of our registered dietitians are in-network so you never have to worry about paying out of pocket. Simply focus on your health and reaching your nutrition goals!

Don’t Diet. Improve Your Nutritional Health With the Help of a Qualified Professional.

Now that you know why diets don’t work, it’s time to try what does. Schedule your introductory call with a Nourish dietitian and start on the path to healthier, happier you. Find a dietitian near you today!