“If Diets Don’t Work Out, how do I Lose Weight?”
I’ve Concluded: No Diet Works. All will fail you. Sorry.
Quietly, this statement fully resolves itself in ten words. There’s no ambiguity, no punchline.
The statements aren’t earth-shattering either. And, I’ll bet when you read it, you’re not shocked.
While “All diets fail…” is a quality conversation-starter, I know only the most curious will ask, “WHY? Why don’t diets work?”
I bet most of you won’t even bother to ask.
Dieting is epidemic and we’ve built up antibodies against it mostly.
We should just wrap this up now.
Everyone Distrusts FAD Diets
These days, everyone pre-qualifies fad diets and most reject them.
Our prejudices are based on their over-hyped promises.
They make you buy notebooks which become a bible of gluten-less grain derivatives. Fad diets also give inflexible and ethnically-obtuse menus, trumped-up 40% plus protein recommendations, and inglorious “detox” phases. After the bible-thumping, we see these diets work only inside of time-distorted wormholes.
Nobody loses when we accept fad diets as snake oil.
But, this view is kinda reductionist and helps no one.
Let’s go further.
All diets are equal in that they never work for long and that means they don’t work at all. Better you learn nutrition skills than diet to lose weight or boost athletic prowess.
If this is true, the only question left is why don’t they work.
Here are reasons you might ask WHY diets don’t work:
- you’ve already tried and quit dieting
- someone you know is struggling on a diet
- you distrust both “pro” and “against” diet articles equally, as setups for newer more woke diets
- you are in the middle of a diet now (which will fail) which requires all of your excess attention and energy, so you’re a bit skeptical of my contrarianism out of carb-cutting apathy.
But, all diets do not work and they’ll fail you.
This is nutrition dogma worth understanding if even in a fit of stubbornness, you decide to double-down on your diet later as you curb your sweet cravings with stevia and MCT oil.
First, this is what a diet isn’t.
They are not constructive food habits.
But, you can spot a diet as guidelines and structured rules around restrictive food choice menus and recipes. (DASH diets are not really and a few commercially available diets are not really diets, though most are).
They require you give up something.
Truly, there are only three base nutrition rules worth following today exclusive of dieting for every person:
- Avoid all processed ingredients – eat natural, eat “organic.” (a la Michael Pollan).
- Eat to create energy – to stimulate hunger, feel great, workout hard.
- Skip no meal.
Those folks who succeed and lose weight on diets are the vast minority – not the many.
Your coworker, cousin or fit coach who lost dozens of pounds many moons ago, did not do it on a ritualistic diet alone. Ask.
But, rather than chastise diets, I would rather accept that:
- I am all-out wrong and/or
- I am too under-informed or
- my own insular biases on dieting are too rigid.
Otherwise, I’d glowingly embrace diets.
I’d desert my dirty prejudices in favor of giving my hard-working trainees the requisite hope they need to lose weight from diets.
But, I fear the worst.
So, before I continue, know this:
I come across two new diets every single month and pretty much have heard a dozen different variations on all popular diets.
I’ll even buy the diet books du jour to satiate my bloodlust.
These days, I aim to create more digital content, to promote my nutrition certification and help solve a seriously confusing mass of nutrition contradictions. As such I have turned to writing articles but by no means do I hope to be anything but authentic.
These are trends I’ve witnessed from actual people over the course of many, many years.
I have concluded today, through overwhelming osmosis that diets don’t work.
1) A Diet’s Usefulness is so Temporary, it’s Ridiculous
Now Trending: People avoiding fruit like it’s poison because of the fructose (sugar) and a fondness for a type of dieting.
It’s so easy to forever point my ire at the most ignoble of all modern diets, the sugar-free ones, that I forget sugar-less dieting is as old as the Nautilus Pec-dec machine.
Bodybuilders started cutting out sugar (while upping their protein ratios) decades ago – long before it become day-one dieting advice.
Today, sugar-cutting is the answer to any and all nutrition-slash-energy query between future dieters.
But, back in the day, the bases of Robert Atkins’ conjectures around forty-five years ago mimicked bodybuilder sugar-less nutrition.
So it was: sugar (added/refined/white) “turns to fat” and thus, makes you fat.
Truly, those titans cut swaths through the bovine and poultry population while they quit consuming sugar. They resigned to weight train twice daily, day after day, for months.
But, here’s a catch…
One that we modern dieters don’t know and Atkins probably didn’t understand about bodybuilding: you eat tons of protein to build tons of muscle because you were lifting shit tons of weight.
The unfathomably huge volumes make Rich Froning’s dominance look like a warmup in the narrowed context of a weight room.
The exercise volume of bodybuilders makes a 40% or more protein-ratio-diets reasonable.
(Let’s recall too, that every marconutrient “turns” to fat in your body at some point in the right conditions).
Bodybuilder workloads, which take exercisers and the fit years to advance to, are completed in three month bursts by the standard-bearing bodybuilders.
Three month bursts.
Ultra-intense weight training demands excessive protein intakes. It’s is a must.
Proteins and muscle tissue are burned in high amounts with fat during mega-intensity regimens. As such, the only way to mitigate lean body mass loss is to neutralize it with heaps of protein.
They DO NOT sustain this eating year-round.
Because it’s impossible.
Carnivores and meatheads, you know it’s true, don’t lie. Game recognizes game and the wider dieting populous needs to understand your arcane practice.
Yet, nowhere do mimic diets describe the ridiculous impermanence within their pages or describe the need for excessive protein.
1A.) Since you are not an amateur bodybuilder, understand that basic sugar free dieting, is not for you.
That premise is:
- sugar turns to fat in your body which
- means biologically, your body hates it in all its forms.
This flimsy crab-restriction premise has been the basis for every sugar-less diet dating back to Atkins’ and possibly before.
First, it’s biologically stupid for your body to simply process A and make B.
It’d be the end of evolution if this were truth. Instead, our bodies process everything with much nuance and deliberation. Can you image if your body was this simple – like, ingesting spinach and releasing exactly one quantity of vitamin A – what the Greek people, whose entire food supply was eradicated after WWII, would have done to process vegetables into energy and survive through famine?
It’d be the end of times.
Second, pointing to our bodies’ guiltily rejecting sugar in favor of ketones is myopic.
Our brains run off two forms of “gasoline,” carbs and ketones. That’s it. Not alcohol, amino acids or triglycerides. While we can make ketones from sugars, it is our personal metabolic state which determines its preference and not our gleeful indulgence in white flour.
It’s biologically easier to consume sugar.
Eating like per-hisortic man must have its perks.
(But per-historic man had no dealings with project deadlines, mortgages, family reunions, unemployment checks, pregnancy scares, and the like.)
It leads me to this:
2) Your Cheat Day is your Normal Day – The Diet is the Cheat
Read: Cheat. Should be: Treat.
Nothing is more cathartic to a dieter than a cheat day I bet.
You save these days up until you start building tiramisu interest and Five Guys liquidation. Finally you get to eat the things you love, revel in the guilt, and live inside the extremes. Guilt alone, I imagine, makes up more than half of the cheat meal fun.
Cheating implies cutting corners and acquiescing to future failure, and still, plenty of diets actually out-right tell you to do it!
As if uncorking the pressure valve that relieves what tension builds up in the ether of a healthy lifestyle is enough to convince us to return to diets’ depravity.
Who is truly so masochistic?
Guilty humans are.
And that twisting of guilt and pleasure is supposed to be the pain of #fitlife where only the strong-willed lose weight.
Really, treating yourself is less extreme.
Treating implies a reward for hard work. And, it has no expiration date. You can treat yourself whenever you want in lieu of scheduled cheat meals.
Since cheating is against the grain, such teeth-gritting agony feels out of place in a healthy lifestyle.
Thinking about your food is healthy. Conversely, reducing your food choices and restricting any food leads to over-eating and the sadly-ubiquitous binge later.
3) You’re SUPPOSED to count calories
Diets always reinforce the idea that calorie-counting is too high-calculus for you.
And, they urge you quit taxing your brain so much before you eat. Diets tell you to stop thinking and processing which is why diets fail long-term.
Diets also coddle you. It’s as if the rapture of hunger or pleasure-eating is too much for your endorphin-spiked brain to handle. No diet wants you to feel “bad.”
Yet, critical thinking, when the stakes are highest, is important. Thinking about your food helps you be aware to make better choices. When you try eating better, you’ll sometimes fail and it’s okay.
Failing a diet, however, is akin to a dishonorable discharge – there’s no going back.
Take the dumbest of diet books (and one of the most popular on Amazon) Why We are Fat which comes right out and says “calories in versus calories out is ‘a myth for weight loss.'”
It makes me think about a guy I trained who was so physically unhealthy, heavy and lethargic (and extremely busy), I thought he might collapse during workouts. And, if he picked up some of the Paleo books available to him without consult or discretion, he’d be urged to lose weight via a 70% calorie-from-healthy-fats recommendation.
70% fat for a heavy human with no nutrition practice!
Foods which double an average recommendations of a maximum 30% fats include avocados, all meats, butter and oils, legumes and peanuts, cheeses and other odiously orgasmic mouthfeel foods.
Plucking just these premium foods from their supermarket resting spots reads to the check-out lady like a button-snapping full-belly symphony instead of patient eating overture.
And, considering my ex-client’s near radioactive cholesterol levels and his poor food choices, I consider such loose diet recommendations as borderline malpractice at least and willful idiocy at its finest.
Anyone who needs to consult such extremes, already makes food choices which … leave room for lots of improvement.
Knowing your intake calories is a practice.
It becomes a skill.
Not counting seems easy. It’s easily manipulative.
And this is the main reason every diet fails: diets hate that you’ll discover you are simply eating fewer calories on that diet.
4) Everyone I have ever Trained Fails AT DIETING
Batting 1.000 is beautiful for the first three games of the season but is literally impossible over the next one hundred games.
As such, over fifteen years, I cannot point to ONE PERSON – competitive bodybuilders, former D1 athletes and elite exerciser – who has out-marathoned any diet or their Autoimmune variants to weight loss victory.
Yes, the only reason I get to work with people is because their diets fail but I have noticed a stark trend:
*you stop plateaued diets – you lose weight.
Keto-diets are tremendously useful in rebuilding fat-dependent tissue like those in your nervous system when recovering from head injuries, they are extremely beneficial as such.
A fraction of people decided to jump start change away from simple diets while training with me. This happened:
1) I first noticed this in 2008 when I asked a lady to start snacking and she lost weight that same week after lots of “convincing”.
2) In 2013, a client dropped to 19% body fat because she re-added fruit.
3) 2014 brought two. One intractable decided to eat sugar in twenty-ish gram quantities before our workouts and lost four pounds in a couple weeks after a year-long plateau where she ate no-sugar ever.
4) 2015, a trainee figured fueling workouts increased his fitness volume early and lost body fat; then went on a hunt for just-meat and lost nothing.
5) From 2016 to now, a handful have either slowed down their body fat loss by dieting, gained eighty pounds post-Keto (2017) for a net-gain of fifteen, or quit dieting and lost some weight.
Diets, like Kanye West “Thumbs Up” in my Pandora playlists, are 0 for infinity.