Why (Most) Diets Fail

Let’s face it. If the big-name diet plans worked, everyone would already be thin and they’d all be out of business by now. 🙂  Clearly, something isn’t working. The sad fact is, most diets fail, and they can fail you two basic ways: In the short term, and in the long term. Many people have experienced both. Let’s take a deeper look at each, and what to do about it.

If the big-name diet plans worked, they’d all be out of business by now. Clearly it's not working. Share on X

How diets fail

In the short term — a diet fails you if you quit too soon. This is all too common in diets that cut calories too low, causing hunger, or that have a poor nutrient composition that doesn’t keep you full and satisfied. Or if a diet is too complicated to follow easily, or so restrictive that your cravings take over and cause you to fall off the wagon.

In the long term – a diet fails you if, once you hit your goal, you return to old habits and the weight comes back. This is most common in diets that rely on willpower or tricks, and don’t teach effective habit change or provide good nutritional counseling.

Healthy habit change is key

Because in reality, once you reach your goal, you will have a smaller body. Your new smaller body will require fewer calories than it did before. Plus, the way you ate previously was causing weight gain, so you can’t go back to those habits. You will need a new way of eating that’s both enjoyable day-to-day and a pleasure to stay with long-term.

Once you reach your goal, you will be able to eat more calories each day, because you won’t need to be in calorie deficit. But you will need to eat healthfully, so a diet plan that teaches healthy eating is essential in making an effortless transition into sustainable maintenance.

a diet plan that teaches healthy eating is essential Share on X

Choose a diet that teaches success

Diets to avoid

Many diet plans don’t prepare you for long-term successful maintenance. Think of programs that rely on shakes, powders or packaged food. They don’t teach you how to cook or navigate a restaurant menu. They used packaged foods as a crutch. Remove the crutch and you fall down — perhaps directly into a bowl of chocolate fondue…

Or think of diet plans that remove entire food groups, like carbs, or fats, or fruit, or all of the above! Can you live like that the rest of your life? Would you want to? Perhaps you can white-knuckle your way through for a while to reach a goal, but it’s not sustainable lifestyle to maintain for decades, is it?

What to look for

So when choosing a diet plan, look for something that is easy, effective and prevents hunger and cravings. Look for something that doesn’t redline out entire categories of nutrients, but rather teaches how to find the healthiest options in every category. Choose a plan that teaches you how to make good choices when eating out. And choose something that is enjoyable, so you don’t have to rely on willpower alone — something you can shift into a permanent lifestyle — a new way of eating for health and maintenance once you reach your goal.

When choosing a diet plan, look for something that prevents hunger and cravings. Share on X

People that are a healthy weight get that way and stay that way by making good choices — it’s not automatic, it’s not magic, and it’s never based on “one weird trick” 🙂    Choose a plan that helps you make good choices too.

Change the way you diet

iDiet is based on the best responsible, peer-reviewed, fad-free science available. We believe we are all of these things — hunger-free, inclusive, based on real food, easy, educational, flexible, enjoyable, and good for the long-term. Our results support this. We have the lowest drop-out rate of any diet studied in a clinical setting, many long-term success stories, and the only brain scans ever published that show iDieters learn to prefer healthier foods and to avoid junk foods. We also have data showing lowered risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Read more about the science of iDiet here.


Nutrition & Diabetes, (2014) 4, e129; doi:10.1038/nutd.2014.26
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2013 vol. 97 no. 4 663-664

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