Principle one of intuitive eating advises us to ditch the diets. Read below to find out why.
DIETS DON’T WORK
It’s very difficult lose weight. Some people believe this dates back to caveman times: when food was plentiful it was advantageous to store energy (in the form of fat) for seasons when food was scarce. As a result, our bodies have evolved to resist weight loss.
It’s hard to lose weight
One study reported that 57% of people following weight loss programmers don’t even lose 5% of their original weight. (1). This means if they started at 100kg, they didn’t even lose 5kg. As well as that, it’s been estimated that only 12% of people in “Stage 2 Obesity” will ever be “normal” weight (2).
It’s hard to maintain weight loss
Even when people do lose weight, it’s very difficult to maintain. One study looked at contestants in The Biggest Loser tv show. On average these people lost 58kg during the show and 6 years later, they had regained 41kg (3). Another study which compiled the findings of 29 research trials found that 5 years after a structured weight loss program, people regained 77% of the weight they lost (4).
Despite having all this evidence that dieting doesn’t work, people often put the blame on themselves, instead of the diet, when they don’t lose weight.
DIETS HAVE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS
One of the most significant risks of dieting is the association with disordered eating behaviours.
We’ve known about this risk since The Minnesota Starvation experiment in 1945 which is famous for placing healthy men on a 1600kcal diet (which is more than a lot of modern day diets). The result? The men became obsessed with food, many of them reported bulimia and food binges. One man even wrote a cookbook. The participants also experienced apathy and depression (5).
Because weight loss is difficult to maintain, many people end up “weight cycling” or yo-yo dieting. Studies indicate that weight cycling places people at higher risk of death than simply remaining in the “obese” weight category and not dieting at all (6).
Finally, dieting actually SLOWS down our metabolism. Remember those participants from the biggest loser, even 6 years later they were burning 500KCAL less than they did before starting (4).
STICK AROUND FOR MORE
Overall, dieting is produced limited results and the risks may outweight the benefit. I hope this will help some of us to realize that it’s not our fault if the diet doesn’t work. Drop a comment if you have any questions and stick around for the other principles of intuitive eating.