45 million Americans go on a diet each year. Yet, only 5% of them manage to keep the weight off longterm.
In fact, 70% of Americans are considered overweight or obese.
So, why in a country that focuses so heavily on weight loss do we have an overweight/obesity rate of 70%?
It’s because dieting, in the standard American sense, makes us fatter. After all, if diets worked and 45 million of us did them each year, then we’d all be at a healthy weight now, right?
Here’s why diets make us fatter:
In order to lose fat, we need to eat in a caloric deficit. This means, we need to consume less calories then we burn each day. There are several different protocols to do this, many of which have been branded and marketed as the latest and greatest diet so that someone is making money off of it.
⚡Keto Diet – creates a caloric deficit but removing an entire macronutrient group: carbohydrates.
⚡Paleo Diet – creates a caloric deficit but focusing on high-quality foods and removing calorie-dense, processed ones.
⚡HCG Diet – creates a caloric deficit by injecting hormones and allowing consumption of only 500 calories/day.
⚡Cleveland Clinic Diet – creates a caloric deficit by providing a meal plan that averages to a total of 1000-1200 calories a day.
⚡Intermittent Fasting – creates a caloric deficit by only allowing a limited amount of time where eating is allowed.
⚡Mediterranean Diet – creates a caloric deficit by focusing on plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fresh fish, and removing hyper-palatable foods.
What’s the common denominator here? A caloric deficit is created.
That’s great because a caloric deficit is required for fat loss.
So what goes wrong?
Well, two things:
- Your diet isn’t sustainable.
In other words, you actually feel restricted, don’t love the way you’re eating, and can’t stay on track in certain circumstances (restaurants, social events, weekends, etc.) for whatever reason. So, you just end up calling your diet to an end and indulging on all the things you “couldn’t” have until you feel gross and gear up for your next dieting attempt.
- You “slowed down” your metabolism.
This is the one that people don’t talk about but this is the reason we find ourselves actually get fatter throughout the years despite many diet attempts.After prolonged periods of being in a caloric deficit, things happen:
⚡Your energy expenditure decreases
⚡Your metabolic rate decreases
⚡Your thyroid downregulates
⚡Your leptin decreases
So, in essence, our body eventually compensates for the decrease in calories by slowing down our metabolism. Then, once we call our diet to an end, which many of us do because of reason 1 above, we end up shooting calories back up way too fast with a metabolism that is too downregulated to handle the influx. So, we gain the body fat back (and some).
So, how do we actually lose body fat and keep it off for good? Two things need to happen:
- You need to eat in a way that creates a caloric deficit but also is enjoyable for you.
- Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you need to reverse diet. A reverse diet is essentially where we slowly increase calories in a way that almost trains your body to take in more calories without putting on excess body fat. In other words, it’s a means of upregulating your metabolism again and allowing you to sustain your fat loss.