When it comes to selecting a diet to lose weight there are hundreds and to be honest 95% of them work (in the short term). The problem with diets is they tend to be a short-term solution to quick weight loss mainly by eliminating certain food groups, limiting calories, and they set you on a focused goal. Paying more attention to foods coming into the body will win every time. Typically, it is the short-term motivation that gets you through the rough patches, but for this weight loss to be long term, it requires a lifestyle change with discipline. So once again, your motivation has to evolve into discipline to reach your goals – any goals for that matter.
Why Diets Work Short Term
1 – Reduction of calories per day – period. I could end the number one reason with one sentence to be honest. At the end of a 24-hour period, if you consume fewer calories than you burn (exercise / daily life), you will lose weight. It does not matter what diet you are on, in the end, you will lose weight because you consume fewer calories than normal. Even Keto and Intermittent Fasting, Atkins, Paleo, Vegan, or Carnivore and others, if you do the math, you will see a reduction of calories normally consumed largely due to the elimination of food groups or macro-nutrients (carbs, fat, protein).
2 – Water Weight – Many diet plans cause a weight loss that can be quite significant (10 or more pounds per week). If you lose that much weight in a short period of time, consider it losing water. You will gain it back at your next meals and liquid consumption. This quick weight loss could be losing retained water which is a good thing. Or you could dehydrate yourself and lose more electrolytes than you are taking in and that could be dangerous. This typically can occur when exercising in hot and humid environments (or arid too). Surprisingly enough, if you want to lose excess water weight – just drink more water.
3 - Accountability – Write it down. One thing a diet will do especially in the short term is make you more aware of mindless eating. When you have to write down what you consume every meal, snack, and drink, you will avoid the very foods that tend to add to your caloric intake. For instance, I discovered I consumed 2-3 spoonful’s of peanut butter each day which added about 500-600 calories a day to my diet. By simply being aware of that, I was able to avoid it and quickly started dropping weight. And have kept it off by avoiding peanut butter to that level of consumption. Many diets have groups and counselors that help with the teamwork of losing weight. The ultimate goal, however, is to turn a short-term weight loss into a long-term habit and lifestyle change.
4 – Financial Commitment – Buying into a program helps too. If you spend money on certain foods, counseling, dietician or nutritionist, you will find that you are also financially motivated to succeed. There is a process that is triggered in the brain by making the decision to start a diet plan (or workout plan), get motivated to pay for it, then stay motivated to do it BECAUSE you paid for it. Seeing results will start to turn that motivation into discipline and you have created a good habit and dropped some bad habits for yourself. One of the worst ways to start a program is if it was gifted to you and you do not have that monetary commitment to help you when the motivation is low.
5 – Awareness – Your awareness allows you to avoid mindless eating. Just the fact that you are “watching what you are eating” will help you avoid extra calories due to mindless or stress eating.
For Long-Term Health and Wellness – Get on a Program
However, if your diet does not allow for long-term health and wellness, it is not a food plan that is nutritious and likely is lacking in either macronutrients, minerals, or vitamins. These reduction of calories are fine for short-term weight loss, eventually, you will have to consider overall health and eat nutritiously – not starving yourself or eliminating entire nutritious food groups.
You have to start somewhere. A short-term goal brought on by a diet plan is great. However, the majority of people who diet lose weight quickly and will put it on again. The process of turning a short-term weight loss into a long-term lifestyle change relies on the following:
Build good habits – Drop bad habits – Your success typically requires two habits. One you have to start and one you have to drop. If you want a bad habit to drop – Drop the Sugar (not all carbs) – Just Sugar.
Exercise – Maybe the very habit you were lacking in life was moving more. Now add moving more to your “eating less” habit and you have a winning ticket for long-term success. In may sounds cliché, but “ Move More – Eat Less” works all the time.
Balanced Diet – You may have started this weight loss cycle with a diet that required you to restrict calories or eliminate food groups/macronutrients. If so, you need to consider speaking to a registered dietician or nutritionist to check your current long-term eating plan to see if you are getting all the required nutrients your body needs to live a healthful lifestyle. If you find yourself with lower energy levels, sick often, irritable, insomnia, or digestive issues, you definitely need to speak to a professional and stop trying to figure it out yourself.
Portion Control – In the end, you will find that portion control is the solution to your caloric intake issues. Whether you reduce your portions of carbohydrates, fats, animal protein, plant protein, or dairy, control the portion of a well-balanced diet is the ultimate goal you should seek to make your short-term weight loss into a long-term health and wellness gain.