Why Your Diet Won’t Work this Year

By Luke Pearce, Lead Nutritionist, B.Sc. Biology, PN-1, NASM-CPT
Inner Element Fitness Lead Nutritionist

Few things may surprise you more when planning healthy changes than a health expert who tells you that your diet won’t work.  Here, we’re going to look at what this really means, and how eating with a purpose makes sense not only for your health goals, but for your lifestyle and needs.

Let’s be clear. Saying your diet won’t work is not a free pass to binge your biggest temptation foods. Instead, it is a chance to shift the way you think about food and healthy eating. It is a long-term, life(style)-altering mindset.

For many of us, the word “diet” is associated with restriction, denial, and frustration. Rather than seeing food as a punishment, let’s try seeing it for what it really is – fuel for your body’s engine.

So, with that in mind, the goals behind this idea to eat with purpose are to replenish energy sources and to help your body be more efficient. Having a nutritional plan is one way to eat with purpose that can help shift your mindset from restrictions and punishment to healthier choices and gradual improvements toward achieving your wellness and fitness goals.

The problems with “diets.”

Every year 45% of us resolve to lose weight or make healthier choices. There are two key things to keep in mind when considering how to improve your health and choosing which plan to follow: “Fad” diets are problematic because there are so many to choose from with different promises, and most of them offer short-term results that often lead to a rebound to where you started.

“Fad” diets are problematic.

Oxford’ defines a fad as “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.”

The reality: There’s no such thing as a silver bullet.

Ultimately, if you want to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit and burn more calories than you consume. If your goal is to maintain or even gain weight, eating the right foods and at the right time of day matters. Following a nutritional plan can also lead to better physical performance and recovery. All these short-term goals are tied to long-term lifestyle changes, something most fad diets are not designed to support.

With dozens of fad diets littered across the Internet and TV infomercials, it’s easy to be distracted or confused by which one works. In general, most fad diets fall short because:

  • They are not grounded in science;
  • They are typically not sustainable; and
  • They can create added stress for the heart and other organs.

Keep in mind, not all fad diets will work for your body.

Since every person has different physical needs and lifestyle influences, one plan does not and cannot fit all. Your nutritional plan must be one that works for you and accounts for your individual needs as well as your environmental influences.

For instance, are you cooking meals for you and your family, or just for you? Are you eating food to put on weight and build muscle or to reduce weight? A nutrition expert or healthcare professional can best help you navigate the variables to create a plan that supports your physical needs and goals.

Why diets are not sustainable.

Sure, give up carbs and the weight will come off quickly. But, live without carbs for the rest of your life? Yeah, right. Or, eat nothing but fats, protein and maybe a few veggies. Not if you have certain health issues, are pregnant or nursing.* Plus, as soon as you are not allowed to eat something, you will want it even more. So, rather than trying and failing in these ways, create a plan you can live with and that works with your life in the long run.

Six out of seven people lose weight when they set a goal. But, most of them regain it – within a few months or a few years because they don’t maintain the same level of effort in their lifestyle. If you can’t imagine continuing something a year after you start it, then you’re already off-track.

Considering this, it’s important to keep the diet after the diet in mind for a more realistic view. Once you have reached your goal, you have to be able to maintain that goal. Or risk undoing – in just a few weeks or months — all the effort, sacrifice and positive change that you’ve spent months (or years) of your life creating.

Helpful tools to get you started.

Making a meal plan, counting calories, and choosing an exercise or nutrition buddy can be useful when you’re (re)learning how to eat healthy. Counting calories or keeping a food log can help you visualize with each meal how many calories certain foods have.

In time, you will know on sight how much of a type of food you can have and roughly how many calories it represents. It will be easier to balance your daily intake and enjoy the foods you love without the guilt or worry that you won’t reach your goal.

Making a meal plan helps you figure out what foods you value and how to have them in balance with foods that can help you lose weight. This support tool can offer a different way to look at food and make better choices each day.

With each passing day, you will take another successful step closer to your overall goal, and reap the rewards of feeling better, performing better during and after workouts, and having a confidence boost with each successful day. The key to sticking with it is to focus on making better food choices most of the time.

So, instead of thinking of “diet” equaling restrictions, rethink “diet” as eating for a purpose to keep your healthy goals on track continually.

Ready to get on track? Ask me for help defining goals and designing a personalized nutritional plan tailored to your needs.

DISCLAIMER Please recognize the fact that it is your responsibility to work directly with your physician before, during, and after seeking fitness consultation. As such, any information provided is not to be followed without the prior approval of your physician. If you choose to use this information without the prior consent of your physician, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your decision. 

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