Why Diets Fail


Susie Burrell

While we technically eat a type of ‘diet’ every single day, most people interpret the word ‘diet’ as a specific regime they are following for specific results. So if you are the one of many who has started a diet recently and are not getting the results you expect, here are some of the common reasons your diet may not be working.

1) You went too hard, too soon

Especially strict diets that eliminate a number of food groups; reduce the amount of carbohydrate dramatically and are difficult to sustain long term are rarely successful, primarily because dietary restriction is a recipe for failure long term. While these strict regimes may be useful to kick start a particular regime, they are best followed for short periods only before moving onto something more sustainable.  

2) You do not like the food

If you do not like it, chances are you will not continue to do it long term. It is for this reason that special shakes, snacks made with ingredients you have to seek out at several specialty stores and rather bland tasting dishes minus all sauces and often flavour may work for a few days, or for those who are happy to not enjoy what they are eating, but are rarely a sustainable option for the rest of us.

3) It has too little carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for the muscle and for the brain and while diets that dramatically reduce carbohydrates result in weight loss initially, if the body consistently has access to lower amounts of carbohydrates than it requires, over time the muscles will break down to fuel the brain, resulting in a reduction in metabolic rate. Long term this means that you require fewer calories and as such need to eat less, which explains why extreme diets work initially but rarely long term.

4) It has too much good fat

While nuts, avocado and olive oil are good for you, you will need to burn off the calories that come from fat. As fat contains more than double the calories than carbohydrate or protein, too much fat can prevent weight loss if you are still eating more than you burn. The average adult will require just 60-80g of fat each day which is a small handful of nuts, a couple of serves of olive oil and some oily fish.

5) You are eating too little

The body runs a finely tuned machine and the muscles and the brain require a certain number of calories for it to run. If we give it far fewer calories than it needs, it will basically slow down, burning fewer and fewer calories. As such you may need to check your calories to make sure they are not too low for your body type to function efficiently and allow fat loss.

6) You are exercising too much

If you lower your calorie intake as part of a particular dietary regime while simultaneously increasing the number of calories you are burning, overall there may be too great a calorie deficit to allow the body to maintain metabolic rate. For this reason always allow a couple of extra hundred calories in your diet for every 400-500calories that you burn.

7) You are eating too little during the day

Often we find ourselves eating lightly throughout the day when we are most active before binging at night. Shift this pattern by eating more calories throughout the day and keeping your night time intake light.

8) You are having treats at night

Another bad dietary habit many of us get ourselves into is rewarding ourselves with high calorie treats after dinner - chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, cheese, wine - all foods that are easy to over consume. If you do choose to enjoy a little something after your evening meal, make a concerted effort to keep it to 100 calories or less.

9) You are drinking too much coffee

While black coffee has minimal calories and may even enhance fat burning, milk based coffees contain a significant number of calories and sugars. For this reason if your goal is weight loss, limit the number of milk based coffees and always order small or piccolo sized serves.

10) You are not treating yourself enough

If you follow a strict calorie controlled diet for long period of time, research has shown that brief interludes of extra calorie consumption can help to prevent a starvation response in the body. In real terms this translates into a meal or two off your strict calorie control each week.

Susie Burrell

Please note: This blog aims to supply user-friendly nutrition information for busy people without comprising on food taste and quality but should be used as a guide only and not in place of advice from your own dietitian or medical specialist. For further information on this topic, please consult your health professional. The content of this blog, including attachments, may be privileged and confidential. Any un-authorised use of this content is expressly prohibited. Any views that are expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of Susie Burrell Pty Ltd.

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