There are some general guidelines, rules of thumb, and ways of viewing a diet program that will allow you to decide, once and for all, if it’s the right diet for you. You may not always like what I have to say, and you should be under no illusions this is another quick fix, “lose 100 lbs. in 20 days,” guide of some sort. However, if you are sick and tired of being confused, tired of taking the weight off only to put it back on, and tired of wondering how to take the first steps to deciding the right diet for you that will result in permanent weight loss, then this is the article that could change your life…
Does your diet pass “The Test”?
What is the number one reason diets fail long term; above all else? The number one reason is…drum roll…a lack of long term compliance. The numbers don’t lie; the vast majority of people who lose weight will regain it – and often exceed what they lost.
You knew that already didn’t you?
Yet, what are you doing to avoid it? Here’s another reality check: virtually any diet you pick which follows the basic concept of “burning” more calories then you consume – the well accepted “calories in calories out” mantra – will cause you to lose weight. To some degree, they all work: Atkins-style, no carb diets, low fat high carb diets, all manner of fad diets – it simply does not matter in the short term.
If your goal is to lose some weight quickly, then pick one and follow it. I guarantee you will lose some weight. Studies generally find any of the commercial weight loss diets will get approximately the same amount of weight off after 6 months to a year. For example, a recent study found the Atkins’ Diet, Slim-Fast plan, Weight Watchers Pure Points program, and Rosemary Conley’s Eat Yourself Slim diet, were all equally effective. (1)
“Our trial found that adherence level rather than diet type was the primary predictor of weight loss”(3)
Translated, it’s not which diet they chose per se, but their ability to actually stick to a diet that predicted their weight loss success. I can just see the hands going up now, “but Will, some diets must be better than others, right?” Are some diets better then others? Absolutely. Some diets are healthier then others, some diets are better at preserving lean body mass, some diets are better at suppressing appetite – there are many differences between diets. However, while most of the popular diets will work for taking weight off, what is abundantly clear is that adhering to the diet is the most important aspect for keeping the weight off long term.
What is a diet?
For the next 90 to 120 days eat 12 scrambled egg whites, one whole grapefruit, and a gallon of water twice a a day. You will lose plenty of weight. Will it be healthy? Nope. Will the weight stay off once you are done with this diet and are then forced to go back to your “normal” way of eating? Not a chance. Will the weight you lose come from fat or will it be muscle, water, bone, and (hopefully!) some fat? The point being, there are many diets out there that are perfectly capable of getting weight off you, but when considering any eating plan designed to lose weight, you must ask yourself:
“Is this a way of eating I can follow long term?”
Which brings me to my test: I call it the “Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?” Test. I know, it does not exactly roll off your tongue, but it gets the point across.
The lesson here is: any nutritional plan you pick to lose weight must be part of a lifestyle change you will be able to follow – in one form or another – forever. That is, if it’s not a way of eating you can comply with indefinitely, even after you get to your target weight, then it’s worthless.