Almost any calorie restriction leads to weight loss in the short-term but 95% of the time, the weight (and then some) returns within 2-5 years. The few who do maintain long-term weight loss through dieting must continue adhering to strict restriction. And even they are an anomaly like the smoker who lives until 90 – it doesn’t prove that smoking doesn’t kill.
Why Diets Don’t Work
- Just as with height, 50-80% of weight is determined by genetics – even the distribution of fat is 40% due to our genes. And just as there are average heights but no “ideal” heights, average or typical weights are likewise neither good nor bad.
- Nobody would diet without negative thoughts about one’s body, which perpetuates the diet-binge cycle. Fuelled by shame, dieters experience depression, fatigue, weakness, irritability, social withdrawal, reduced sex drive, low sex-drive, low self-esteem, and low ability to concentrate and think clearly.
- Though a “typical” woman generally expends around 2,000 calories per day to sustain basic life functions, perform physical activities, and digest food, the “caloric deficit” approach to dieting does not work because there are so many other factors at play, i.e. genetics, age, weight, body composition, stimulants like caffeine, exposure to cold, exercise, nutrient absorption, gut bacteria, environmental toxins like plastic, etc. Not to mention, reported calorie content is an approximation – food labels in the US are allowed a 20% margin of error.
- Twin studies prove that, even given the same weight-loss program and full compliance, different people show different results.
- Food restrictions almost always lead to overeating “forbidden foods” because (1) just a taste of forbidden foods disinhibits restrains, even when deprivation is only perceived, and (2) restriction leads the body to increase hunger and make high calorie foods (especially carbohydrates) more enticing for evolutionary purposes – this is proven by increased “hunger hormone” gherlin and decreased peptide YY and leptin’s hunger suppression. Chronic dieting leads to chronically less leptin release, which may explain why yo-yo dieters usually gain weight over time. Overeating after dieting is akin to breathing deeply after physical exertion – a natural response, not a sign of weakness.
- Our ancestors were able to reproduce because their – and now our – bodies hold onto more fat after famine.
- Within 24-48 hours of restriction, metabolism (i.e. fat burning) slows 15-30% and it stays low for as long as the body is at a lower weight. As restriction continues or repeats, this reaction is quicker and more severe each time.
- While both fat and muscle are burned in total weight loss, only fat is put on from weight gain – meaning body size is larger and metabolism is slower.
- If you constantly try to override your body’s natural ability to maintain weight with diets and binges, your body fights harder by setting a higher weight to maintain, i.e. a “settling point.”
- Yo-yo dieters are at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, regardless of current weight, and are 25-100% more likely to die prematurely.
- Calorie restriction increases inflammation, even more so with cycles of weight loss and gain.
- Dieting can lead to fatigue, poor sleep, mood changes, depression, obstructed menstrual cycle, reduced mental acuity, and obsession over food and weight loss, as demonstrated in Keys’ study.
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