Does dieting really help you lose weight? Does keto really work? Will a bit more exercise help in my weight loss journey? There is an incredible amount of misinformation circulating out there. While I don't have a magic bullet to help you lose weight, I believe offering REALISTIC expectations that are backed by science can provide insight as to why some diets and strategies aren't working.
The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that often pushes "quick fix" or fad diet options that have poor long-term outcomes. In fact, several large scale studies have shown that dieting to lose weight is actually associated with consequent weight GAIN and obesity! That's not to say focusing on "diet" is a negative thing. Nutrition is one of the main components of weight loss/gain, so it's not something to disregard. However, "fad diets" often have commonalities like:
Eliminating or greatly reducing whole food groups (ex: dairy/grain free without an allergy)
Using diet pills or herbal remedies ( ex: "take this pill to boost metabolism")
Drastically changing consumption of a specific macronutrient (ex: keto, low-carb, low-fat)
Strategies that include any of the listed above often have the potential to negatively affect your health. In addition, studies show they often lead to short-term weight loss, but very poor outcomes in long-term weight loss. So yes, you may lose weight at FIRST with diets like keto - but have you researched the health effects & long term weight loss success? It's generally unsuccessful.
Restricting calories is another common method. While it is effective when done properly, and paired with complementary strategies, there are down sides too. Calorie restriction that results in macro and micronutrient deficiencies can cause adverse psychological changes such as having obsessive thoughts about food, feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, and developing all-or-nothing mindsets (Rao et al., 2008). Fad diets often lead to deficiencies, and less-than-optimal intake of nutrient dense foods. Then with all of the bodily changes, your less likely to continue dieting, and it will result in regaining the weight.
Well, what is one to do if nothing works!? There are some proven effective strategies that can complement your goals -
Set realistic expectations. NORMAL healthy weight (fat) loss is 1-2lbs a week. That's 6 lbs a MONTH at the high end with no hiccups. That doesn't mean you can't lose more, but we are often sold the idea that "lose 20 lbs in a month is normal and do-able by just walking more, or maybe taking a pill". Weight loss is SLOW. Consistency is key here.
Educate yourself as much as possible. Read the studies and literature if you have time. Wasting time focusing on trendy or quick fix plans will only frustrate you further. This can also decrease your self-efficacy, which is a strong component of weight loss. Believing you CAN and knowing the truth, has so much power. If you don't have time, find a trusted professional around you, and ask for help!
Nutrition is the foundation of your home, and exercise is the roof. There's a saying - "you cant out-exercise a bad diet". The amount of calories burned from structured exercise is very minimal as it relates to your whole day. Exercise IS beneficial for health, but it's not something that will be a magic bullet to allow you to eat whatever you want.
Fat loss and muscle gain has turned into so much more than it ever had to be. Bringing it down the to basics helps, and realizing that we aren't perfect is a good first step! The right plan for you IS out there, it's only a matter of finding it - and it doesn't have to feel impossible! Helping people feel their absolute best is a true passion of mine. Through empowerment, education, fitness/nutrition coaching, massage therapy, and more - I'm so thankful I am in this profession! If you feel overwhelmed by the world of diet culture and weight loss - please feel free to reach out anytime. I'd love to chat!
As always, stay well my friends!