Do Diets Even Work?

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Our patients have tried more diets than you can name. Mostly, two things happen: they see an immediate drop, and then the weight gradually comes back on; or, they see zero results at all.

The chief misconception here is that people blame themselves. They chalk up their weight gain to lack of willpower. This is simply not true.

The fact is, many people have tried many diets, and hardly any of them produce long-term results. This dire track record begs the question: do diets actually work?

The ‘Honeymoon Stage’ of a diet

Don’t get us wrong, diets do produce results in terms of dropped pounds. The stories we commonly see on TV though are just the beginning of the diet; they hardly account for the decades that follow.

This is why we see ‘craze diets’ come and go: they are often aimed at giving people a ‘quick fix’. Weight is dropped quickly and suddenly, and then biology reasserts itself and the pounds come roaring back.

Most diets are unsustainable over a long term

The Washington Post published a fascinating article chronicling the book, “Secrets from the Eating Lab”, written by Traci Mann, a psychologist at University of Minnesota.

In her Post interview, she described how biological, hormonal and neurological changes affected by a diet indicate that diets are unsustainable, if not impossible:

  • When dieting, your brain becomes overly responsive to tasty-looking food. Basically, you imagine a slice of pizza as tasting far better than how it really is.
  • When you lose body fat, your hormonal changes make you feel hungrier more often, and conversely it becomes more difficult to feel full.
  • When your metabolism slows down, your body finds a way to run off fewer calories, while the ‘leftover’ ones are stored as fat.

Essentially, Mann proposes that these urges and changes make it “practically impossible” for a dieter to keep weight off for a long time.

What diet actually works?

Two Yale researchers compared major diets of the last several decades, which was covered by Atlantic Monthly. The study concluded:

“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

Basically, a diet of plant-based and natural foods is the best way to lead a healthy life. But most people already knew that.

It’s too hard to say that any one diet works

Researchers and nutritionists can recommend best eating habits to minimize your risk for diseases and health issues, but they can’t name one definitive method for dropping weight and sustaining it.

One option for those who haven’t seen results from years of dieting is to explore surgical procedures. These are non-invasive, and an effective tool for starting down a healthier path.

If you’d like to learn more, you can read success stories from others who have experimented with diets, and why they made their decision to go with a weight loss procedure.

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