13 Reasons why Diets Don't Work

Want to lose weight? Then don't go on a diet! 

I know I know...you just want to lose a few pounds for your upcoming vacation or maybe you want to shed some weight for the wedding. We all have our reasons as to why we want to lose weight. As an adult, you're probably no stranger to dieting. In fact, the average American adult goes on a diet four times each year. And between you and the person next to you, there's more than a 50% chance that one of you is currently on a diet.


Of the 45,000,000 Americans who diet each year, I'd be lying if I hadn't tried a diet or two (or several) in the past. But you know what I've discovered every time? Diets don't work! You don't have to look far to come to this conclusion. If 54% of adults are on a diet at any given then why are 1 out 3 adults obese? As a nation we spend more than $60 billion a year on losing weight, but we still haven't realized that diets aren't working.

But why do you diet? You want to feel better, right? You want your clothes to fit better and you want to be happier about the body standing in the mirror...

Sure, you may lose a few pounds at first...but your chances of keeping that weight off for more than 5 years is 5%. In fact, 97% of dieters will gain the weight back. 

And beyond the poor track record of diets, the short-term results aren't worth the long-term ramifications. The truth is, after the short term reward, dieting does more harm than good...yo-yo dieting is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, inflammation, and, ironically, long-term weight gain. 

This is the definitive guide to why you should not diet but avoid diets like the plague. Just as the number indicates, this list compiles all the reasons diets don't do you any good. Here are 13 reasons why you should ditch the diet.

#1: Diets make you fat.

Reason: The idea behind diets is that they're supposed to help you "get healthy." Right? But usually they're not healthy at all. In fact, diets usually make things worse! Seasons of prolonged restrictive consumption causes your body to go into survival mode. Rather than burning off the excess calories, it begins to hold on to everything.

As Mary Vance, the San Francisco based holistic nutrition consultant, points out, diets can also damage your metabolism. “The longer you restrict calories, the more stressed your body becomes. It thinks you’re in a famine state, so cortisol rises and you are in fat storage mode. Stay here for too long and thyroid function can also be affected. A hypothyroid state makes it much more difficult to lose weight and burn fat until it’s corrected."

#2: Diets are not sustainable.

Reason: I'm an avid runner. And besides racing the clock, my goal is reaching the end. Diets are like running a race...the entire time you're looking to the end. And what do you do when you reach the end? Well, if you're not a runner, I'll help you out here: you don't keep running! At the end of a race you stop. And that's how diets work. Every time someone tells me they're on a diet the next thing they tell me is how they can't wait until the next 30 days are over (or however long the diet is going for). And that's not sustainable. Because the minute that diet is over they go back to their old ways. And if they don't go back immediately, they gradually slip back into the old habits that got them there to begin with. And eventually all the progress they made with their diet is erased.

#3: It doesn't work to cut something out completely.

Reason: Diets attempt to cut things out of your daily consumption. One of the most popular diet trends is to remove soft drinks from your daily consumption. However, psychology will tell you that rarely works. Habits are hard to break when they are completely removed. Instead of trying to completely remove something, it should be replaced.

#4: Everyone is different.

Reason: What works for one person might not work for someone else. Friend, you are you and there’s no one else quite like you. You and I are both completely different: what’s good for you could be very bad for me. Cookie cutter approaches are rarely effective in diets.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating explains that "Diets give us rules to follow, and our unique circumstances, personal history, and individuality are rarely considered. It’s like shooting an arrow in the dark. It might hit something, but probably not the target.” A cookie cutter approach to dieting doesn’t take into consideration the specific needs of your metabolism. Other than the planned outlined by the diet, you need to consider your body type, genetics, and many other factors.

#5: Diets do not account for the different seasons and events in life.

Reason: Maybe you’re a busy mom, in your mid thirties, coping with the erratic sleeping habits of an infant, and trying to manage your personal needs as well. This type of schedule and lifestyle requires significantly different nutritional requirements than the you of 10+ years ago as a post-graduate, single lady.

In addition to the changes we go through with age, we also experience different patterns from one year to the next. Maybe one year you’re training for a marathon. Or maybe you’re going for a big promotion. In a high stress time such as this, the last thing you want is to do is add a restrictive diet that only compounds the frustrations and stress that often comes along with these circumstances.

#6: Diets make you moody and irritable.

Reason: When it comes to dieting, you’re often not the only one that suffers through the process. Diets can often cause mood swings and make you more irritable. As you deal with the internal effects of your diet, those around you often feel the external ramifications. An irritable spouse, mother, coworker, or friend is not an enjoyable companion. Instead of lending support, those around you are left hoping for the end of your diet to happen as soon as possible. This will only make you want to quit all the more.

#7: Diets are not practical.

Reason: I’ve found that with any long-term goal – whether it’s a new workout program or a way of eating – it needs to be practical if I’m going to be able to maintain it long-term. It may sound appetizing to consume large quantities of meat for a few days, but by the end, you’ll probably never want to see a piece of red meat again. And maybe those pre-packaged meals that show up at your doorstep each day were nice at the beginning. They were great the first few nights when you got home from work and didn’t feel like cooking. But who wants to keep ordering meals the rest of their life or who wants to only eat meat? Long term, this means you’re bringing all your meals along for the ride when you travel or go on vacation. And the site of a carbohydrate after a week on an all meat diet might send you into a nervous breakdown. These diets can often be very costly, restrictive, and so difficult to manage long-term.

#8: They don't change your behavior.

Reason: The typical diet tells you “eat this – don’t eat that.” But what happens when you face a craving outside of the diet and your will power just isn’t quite strong enough to resist.

Diets don't focus on the real issue(s) such as behaviors, habits, and even your beliefs. Chances are that your behaviors and habits have been with you for quite some time. These will not be easily changed. Your philosophy about food was handed down to you. One simple diet isn’t going to change that.

Futures of Palm Beach, the Florida based addiction and treatment center, has stated that 46 percent of American girls as young as age of 9 are on diets. And 42 percent of lower elementary girls in the United States who were say they want to be thinner. 

#9: You need to learn how to enjoy food.

Reason: Food is a large part of our culture. My husband and I were recently discussing this. Rarely do we make plans without making plans for food. When we have friends over to our house we talk about what we’ll be eating. When we travel we think about the restaurants we’ll be eating at. And every holiday revolves around food preparation.

If you’re going to exist in this culture you need to enjoy food. Seeing food as a necessary evil or some restrictive topic will make for a difficult existence in western culture.

#10: Diet food is gross.

Reason: Diet food is like coffee: you need to acquire a taste for it. But instead of it being one type of drink, it’s everything! Diet food is gross because it’s highly refined, processed, and lacking in the healthy fats that make food enjoyable. It’s also depleted of many of the other key ingredients that your body needs and craves.

#11: Diets promote an unhealthy relationship with food.

Reason: Diets cause you to view food as a necessary evil. Dinner, something you previously enjoyed, becomes that time of day you must stuff some green roughage down your throat. You don’t have to be a food connoisseur, but the relationship you have with food should be a healthy one. Extremes are unhealthy. Food should not be too large of a focus in life, but neither should it be an enemy.

#12: Diets focus on weight rather than health.

Reason: The basic idea behind a diet is to become healthy, right? However, the main objective of most diet plans is to lower the number on the scale. But the scale is only one part of the solution. Aiming only for a smaller number on the scale can yield unhealthy results. Weight loss can be the result of losing water weight, bone mass, and the break down of muscle tissue. Aiming at weight loss only can result in an unhealthy body composition.

Our society has placed too much value in the number on a scale. Rather than using the scale as your only measure of success, consider the way you feel, the way you look in the mirror, and the way your clothes fit. Often these indicators will show a more positive result than the scale.

#13: They don't address underlying issues (there could be something going on with your health)

Reason: There may be times you think you're doing everything right, but still aren’t seeing the results you’d hoped for. In these situations, you may need to consider that something else might be going on with your body. Examples of underlying causes could be thyroid issues, stress levels, or even a lack of sleep. Although this may be rare, these contributing factors can cause problems in reaching your health and nutrition goals. 

Want to learn how to feel better about yourself and love the body in the mirror? Join the Life Well Lived newsletter and receive health & nutrition tips, delicious & nutritious recipes, and other practical tips to help you live your life to the fullest! Click here to join today.

I hope the above 13 examples of why diets won't help you lose the weight you're hoping to will cause you to reconsider. If you want to lose weight or remove unwanted inches, then don't run after the most recent fad. Make a sustainable plan to live a healthier life.

Let me ask you:

What has been your biggest frustration in reaching your goals?