– By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
At any given time, close to 25 percent of Americans, primarily women, are on some type of diet. Despite these efforts, more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Why is there such a sizable disconnect?
There are many factors that contribute to low success rates for diets, but the two biggest issues tend to be:
- Worrying about being hungry and not being able to eat the foods we like;
- Not losing weight as quickly as we would like — or not losing weight at all.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Fad Diets and Deprivation
The first issue is exacerbated by many of the diets that are in trend. These “fad” diets often are based on deprivation. For example, ketogenic (or keto) diets are high protein, which in itself is not a problem, but not all proteins are created equally. There is a big difference between how your body processes bacon and sausage versus a chicken breast or filet of flounder. While you may know which food choices are better for you, who is going to turn down bacon if the diet you’re following says it’s okay to eat?
Another popular diet, the Whole30 program, completely eliminates entire food categories. Reducing or eliminating sugar and other sweets makes some sense, but this plan also forbids legumes, grains and dairy for 30 days. The idea is that within that period of time you will “transform” and somehow forget that you loved bacon and cake and voluntarily turn to healthy food choices at the end of the month-long timeframe.
There are two major deterrents to this program. First, if you eat any item on the very lengthy forbidden food list, you have to restart the 30-day process. This is strictly an all or nothing diet, with the emphasis on nothing. Also, there is no scientific support to suggest that any type of “transformation” will occur in that short time period and, in fact, many people who try this program to jumpstart their weight loss efforts are counting down the days until they can resume eating their preferred meals.
Fad Diets and Unreasonable Expectations
These and other fad diets set unreasonable and often unattainable expectations, which makes them difficult to follow and thus ineffective. They also can lead to adverse side effects and jeopardize your health. As discussed in a previous post, everyone’s weight loss journey is unique to where that person is in their life and their own individual journey. As appealing as the unsubstantiated claims made by these fad diets may be, you must do your research and consider the consequences before jumping on the bandwagon. If you crave rice and pasta, keto is probably not for you; if you crave most types of food, ditto for the Whole30!
Consume Fewer Calories = Lose Weight
The simple truth is that weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories. That’s it. That means you need to figure out how many calories you consume every day and come up with a plan that starts to reduce that amount while still accommodating your lifestyle. Two added bonuses are:
- Increased activity – even just a walk before or after dinner – will further promote weight loss
- Weight loss of just five percent of your overall weight can have a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol and other chronic disease associated with obesity
Remember, slow and steady is the key. Successful weight loss takes place in the brain as much as the body, so set aside some time to think (maybe during a walk?!) about small changes that can lead to big results!
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.