How many times have you heard a diet expert or weight loss guru say that diets don't work? Well, in fact, diets do work and if you want to lose weight, a diet is probably your only option.
Why It's Best to Diet for Weight Loss
The word "diet" has a bad reputation in the weight loss community. But the bottom line is that we are all on a diet of some sort. Your diet is simply your eating plan. Even if you eat whatever you want, you're on a diet.
But if you want to lose weight, your eating plan - your diet - must change. Here's why:
Diets create an energy deficit. The only way to lose body fat without medical intervention (like surgery) is to adjust your energy balance. That means that you need to eat less food than your body uses for daily functions. Your body will burn fat for energy when you don't provide enough energy from food. Eating less than your body needs means that you create an energy deficit.
Some diets help you achieve an energy deficit by eliminating or decreasing your dependence on certain food groups, like carbs or wheat. Some diets help you achieve the deficit by using a specific eating schedule, like intermittent fasting. Some diets use portion control. But any program that works is based on creating this energy deficit.
Exercise alone is usually not effective. So what if you hate to diet? Your only other option to slim down is to change your energy balance with exercise. You have to burn enough calories with vigorous activity so that your body burns stored fat as fuel. Sounds effective, right? It may be if you only have a very small amount of weight to lose. But for most people, exercise alone is not effective. The amount of activity needed for weight loss is substantial and could ultimately cause burn out or injury in the long run. Of course, exercise is effective for weight loss. But exercise needs to be paired with diet for real sustainable results.
Weight maintenance matters. So what happens if you lose weight but don't change your diet? The weight comes back. Your original diet may have caused the weight gain in the first place. If you return to your old eating habits, the weight will come back, too. This is one of the reasons that you need to choose the best diet for you based on your own lifestyle and personal preferences. A modified version of the diet you choose will become your diet for life if you want to keep the scale from creeping back up.
The Truth Behind "Diets Don't Work"
The reason that weight loss experts generally discourage clients from going on a diet is that many diets are too restrictive. When you hear a diet guru say that diets don't work, what they often mean to say is, "overly restrictive diets don't work." They usually don't mean to imply that it is unnecessary for you to change your eating habits.
Reasonable diets do work and they are absolutely essential for long term weight loss. If you are ready to slim down, take some time to evaluate your lifestyle, your support network and your health history to find a weight loss plan - a diet - that works for you. Call it whatever you want, just make sure that it is reasonable and sustainable for the long term.