Dieting, Making It Work For You

I’m often asked, “What’s the best diet for weight loss? Honestly, I never ever give a straight answer because, quite frankly, I don’t believe in “diets”, per se. To me, most appeal to people’s vanity with claims promising effortless, rapid weight loss, oftentimes, regardless of whether or not a person exercises.

Believe it or not, 1 out of every 3 adults in the United States is currently dieting to lose weight yet nearly 70% of American adults are still overweight.

So, clearly the sheer act of dieting isn’t working for the masses.

But, before I fully delve into this topic, some clarification is warranted, specifically in relation to the terms “dieting” versus “diet”.

The term “dieting” describes the act of restricting calories or certain macronutrients (carbohydrates and/or dietary fat) for weight loss purposes. This is perpetually confused with the term “diet”, which simply refers to one’s habitual eating patterns.

When it comes to weight loss, weight management and overall good health, maintaining a healthy, well-balanced ‘diet’ should be the focus as opposed to the habitual act of ‘dieting’. Still, in the United States alone, consumers spend an estimated $42 billion annually on dieting products and services, most of which aren’t working for the average weight loss seeker.

Related Article: 10 Types of Dieting Resources to Reject

So, what’s the problem here?

Well, I think it’s really an issue of adherence, mainly due to the fact that a large majority of dieting programs simply require unsustainable changes in eating patterns.

It’s quite difficult, if not impossible to restrict calories and macronutrients over the long-term.

This is why over 75% of individuals who resolve to lose weight each year generally abandon their dieting programs by the spring. This is also why 95% of individuals who do lose weight typically regain it over time.

Truth is, whether you’re limiting your food intake, eliminating carbohydrates or even counting points, all dieting programs work, as they generally require some level of calorie manipulation.

A pound of fat houses an average of 3,500 calories. So, if you create a 3,500-calorie deficit over a given period of time through dieting (or exercise), you’ll eventually lose a pound.

Related Article: Are You Overestimating Your Daily Calorie Expenditure?

To encourage calorie deficits, many dieting programs require use of appetite suppressants and similar supplements that support reductions in overall food intake. Others require the use of prepackaged meals, smoothies and shakes that contain a fixed amount of macronutrients. Since some macronutrients yield more calories than others, manipulating them will inherently result in changes in calorie intake.

Now, a lot of regimens are more under your control, requiring the simple act of counting calories (or points) and then cutting food intake to a certain point.

There’s really nothing blatantly wrong with any of the dieting programs I’ve mentioned, as one can achieve dramatic weight loss results with adherence. Problem is, long-term adherence is often unachievable. Therefore, dieting should really be approached as a short-term project with a definite start and a definite end, after which, strategies for long-term weight management should ensue.

Related Article: Dieting’s Done, Now Leave That Fat Behind For Good

This is how to make dieting work for you!

Successfully maintaining a weight loss after dieting is a continuous process WITHOUT a definite end.

It’s a permanent lifestyle change.

That 5% of folks who’ve been able to lose weight and successfully keep it off over the long-term have four things in common:

  1. They implemented a dieting program involving moderate calorie restriction (a reduction of daily calorie intake by 15-17%) and/or sensible macronutrient manipulation (slight reductions in carbohydrate intake);
  2. They supplemented their dieting program with regular exercise (cardiovascular “cardio” exercise and weight training) and spontaneous physical activity (taking the stairs and/or walking a few extra blocks throughout the day);
  3. They maintained sensible eating patterns after achieving weight loss; and
  4. They continued to accumulate at least an hour of daily exercise/physical activity after weight loss.

Again, following ANY dieting program can result in significant weight loss. But, understanding you can’t be a dieter forever, you should approach dieting with a definite end date and ensure your program encourages flexible eating patterns and moderate weight loss over time.

And it doesn’t stop there!

Regular exercise and spontaneous physical activity during and after weight loss are also critical for maintaining your body weight, as they promote continuous calorie deficits, which reduce your chances of gaining weight again.

Related Article: Women and Weight Loss: Act Like a Man and Lose More Weight

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Disclaimer: The information I offer in articles and blogs is solely for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you’re concerned about your health, I highly recommend contacting a physician for medical advice.

Before starting an exercise training program you should first make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are under the age of 55 years and generally in good health, it’s probably safe for you to exercise. However, if you are over 55 years of age and/or have any health problems, consult with a physician before starting an exercise training program.