Why Dieters Usually Gain the Weight Back – And How to Break the Cycle
By RACHEL L. PIRES
The dieting industry is a multibillion-dollar business, yet most dieters fail to lose weight or keep the weight off long-term. Any other industry with such a low return on investment would never have people coming back for more! While most dieters chalk up their lack of dieting success to a lack of discipline, the reality is that most diets are not built for long-term use or weight-loss maintenance.
People either struggle to lose weight or they do succeed in losing weight and then gain it back. But if you look at how most dieters lose weight, it's easy to understand why this happens.
Fad diets can help you lose weight initially, but they are almost impossible to stick to long-term. If you lose weight using these sorts of programs, you are often setting yourself up to regain the weight.
What many people don't realize is that behind every successful diet is the foundation of a reduction in calories consumed. Despite our society's preoccupation with trendy diets, weight loss still comes down to calories. Research from the New England Journal of Medicine states that "reduced-calorie diets will result in clinically meaningful weight-loss, regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize."
Regardless of the program you're following, if you're losing weight, it's because you're taking in fewer calories than you're expending.
The trick to sustainable weight loss is to reduce your calories while balancing eating healthy foods along with the kinds of foods you crave. So, after you've lost weight, when it comes time to maintain your weight loss, the only difference is that you are allowed slightly more calories each day. It's so simple yet overlooked by a lot of dieters.
If you don't want to regain the weight after dieting — don't deprive yourself of the food you like to eat while you are dieting. If you like carbs, have some whole grain bread. If you like eating vegan, make a tofu stir-fry. If you eat fast food once in a while, then incorporate a burger and fries into your calorie plan. An eating strategy that works long-term has to be flexible and realistic, otherwise you'll eventually gain the weight back.
The most important part, however, is to strive to eat foods that are lower in calories and higher in bulk so you stay full throughout the day. Being in control of what you eat long-term has more to do with feeling good and satisfied than having some indomitable will-power.
If you're eating delicious meals and not feeling deprived throughout the day, weight loss can become easier. And if you can learn to be satisfied while losing weight, then weight maintenance is even easier -- simply because you get more calories.
The major advantage of tracking calories with your own customized plan (and using a free tracking app such as MyPlate ) is that you can choose foods based on your preferences. You're programming yourself to keep the weight off for good. So choose foods that make you happy and fill you up and you'll be on your way to a slimmer and healthier you.
Readers - Have you lost weight in the past only to gain it back? What was the issue for you? Have you tried tracking your calories or other types of diets? What works best for you? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Rachel L. Pires is a Boston University graduate and the author of "Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss." She is a writer, weight-loss advisor, and new mother. It is her mission to help people discover how easy weight loss and maintenance can be with the right approach.