Diet companies are thrilled that diets seem like they work. Diet companies are also thrilled that diets, ultimately, almost always fail. And diet companies are thrilled that everyone seems to think that it’s their own personal fault that it failed.
Weight loss studies last long enough to take note of the weight that’s lost, they don’t go on long enough to see what happens after the weight is lost.
That’s very convenient for the companies funding the studies, who are almost always the companies who are selling the drug or diet in question.
Weight loss is not confusing. Well… at least that’s what we are told over and over again. It is a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. Or it’s a simple balance of macronutrients. Or it’s a simple avoidance of certain food groups. Or it’s a simple rotation of different food groups. Or it’s a simple amount of hours during the day you’re supposed to eat and not eat. Or it’s a simple supplement that ancient cultures used to induce euphoria and perfect health. Or… Or…
Truth is, all of those things can cause initial weight loss. In my diet heyday I tried lots of them. And most of them worked. For a time.
What none of these studies account for is the inevitable regain. They never stick around long enough to see what happens to your body biologically and mentally as you try to stay on the diet.
We are also now all living under the assumption that eating less, restriction, and constant micromanagement of our intake is a healthy, normal activity. It’s so common that we assume it is normal. And it’s so ingrained and ‘normal’, that we assume it’s healthy.
But your body does not want you to restrict your food, and it does not want you to lose weight, especially when it feels like food is scarce.
So it will sabotage your efforts almost every time and make it harder and harder to lose weight in the future, the more ‘famines’ you put it on.
How does the body sabotage your efforts? It makes you exhausted and slows down your metabolism so you expend less energy and burn less calories. It makes you fixated on food. It makes your hungrier. It makes you binge. It forces you to gain weight back. Sometimes in one fell swoop, sometimes over the course of a year.
Your body does all of this on purpose. It does all of that to get more calories in, and expend less calories. After all, your body has no idea you are trying to fit into an arbitrarily small bikini. Your body thinks there is a motherFing famine.
But if you have ever ended up at the same weight (or higher) after a diet, it’s not because you just needed to try harder. It’s because your body is baller at keeping you safe from famine.
And diet companies are lucky their clients “fail,” because it means they keep coming back for more, determined to try harder and “be good this time”.
They remember back to that one time they lost a lot of weight, and give all the credit to the diet but fail to see that the yo-yo is all part of it. It’s incredibly rare to have the initial weight loss and not have the following regain.
And the people who seem so good at staying on diets, are either people who are not actually dieting at all and are truly listening to themselves, or they are people who have disordered eating and can only focus on their diet and little else.
So what’s the answer?
Your best bet at being a stable and healthy weight (which might not be as tiny as you’ve been hoping for…) is to learn to truly feed yourself what you want and how much you want.
That’s the only scenario where your body won’t fight you back.
The answer is to stop fighting your weight, and you’ll find your weight stops fighting you back.
(See supporting science here.)