Dieting is not a new concept or idea. The first “diets” started in the 19th century with some information mentioning changes in diet to help manage diseases in the 18th century.

Fasting has been part of certain religions for much longer than that.

These concepts are not new but make up a billion-dollar industry.

These or any of the other 9000 diets out there.

These or any of the other 9000 diets out there.

Do you want to know the secret to how ALL diets work? Do you also want to know why they ALL fail?

Here’s the deal. Every diet, and I do mean every diet, works to produce weight loss in the same way. And weight loss and fat loss are not the same. You want fat loss, not just weight loss.

All diets are built on the idea of restriction and willpower. Take something, or many things, out of your nutritional plan and bear down and get used to this new way.

No sugar.

No fruit.

No protein.

No bread.

No carbs.

No. No. NO!

In the short-term, this will produce weight loss. You are eating less because of whatever you removed from your normal eating habits. 

Carbs are usually targeted as the initial thing to remove. Do you want to know the reason why? When your body stores carbs, it also stores water with them. For each gram of carbs stored, your body stores about 3 grams of water.

Take away the carbs and you get this whoosh of initial weight loss. This initial whoosh is enough to keep you focused on restricting and sticking to the rigid plan. 

Plans built on willpower and restriction are not sustainable!

This is not sustainable or healthy.

This is not sustainable or healthy.

Once you finally reach the point where the negatives of the diet you are following outweigh any of the benefits (and this will happen), you go back to eating how you did before the start of the diet.

Any weight lost will come back and usually brings some extra lbs with it. And so begins this cycle. You go back to eating normally for a while before the newest diet catches your eye. It will promote that it is the newest thing ever (it isn’t) and that it will radically change your life (it won’t).

It will work just like every diet before it and every single one to come after it. 

There is a better way to lose fat and sustain it and it isn’t a meal plan. Meal plans only work for a small percentage of people.

Most people assume, incorrectly, that if they just have a meal plan that will solve their nutrition riddle and they will be on their way to losing fat and reaching their goal(s).

Yet, very few people that are given meal plans actually succeed in reaching their goal and if they do make it there, they are not able to sustain their success. 

If you are given a meal plan at the start of your nutrition journey you will probably fail in reaching your goal(s). It is too short-sighted and does nothing to address any of the underlying reasons of why you choose the foods you do.

It is no different than you taking meds for chronic pain when you move poorly. Failure to address the real problem leaves you in pain, struggling to make any progress and ultimately relying on more extreme methods to cope. 

The small percentage of people that benefit from the rigidity of a meal plan are those that are pretty far along their nutritional journey and need that sort of rigidity to reach a level of performance of leanness that most of us do not need. 

He missed a meal on his meal plan now the day is ruined.

He missed a meal on his meal plan now the day is ruined.

Meal plans really are meant to be a short-term solution to a problem or scenario, not a way of life. Our bodies can usually adapt to a rigid way of eating for a short period of time.

But if you’re too strict for too long, you could wind up with disordered eating habits and lasting health (mental, metabolic, hormonal, etc) consequences.

Meals plans also offer very little flexibility when traveling. This often leads to increased frustration and this “eff it” mentality where if you can’t be 100% strict then it isn’t worth being 85% compliant. This is flawed logic and another reason to move away from the rigidity of the meal plan.

The bigger concept as it pertains to your nutrition is to improve your habits and behaviors with food. It should not be about restriction and willpower.

Also, stop counting calories.

I said, “Stop counting calories”.

Please. Just stop.

This practice is similar to watching a dog chase its tail and watching as it looks confused and disoriented as if it expected a different outcome. 

If meal plans suck then counting calories has to be up there on the craptastic list of things related to nutrition.

On the surface, counting calories seems logical and fool-proof. 

If your body needs ‘X’ calories and you eat less than ‘X’ calories, you should lose weight. Right? Maybe. But, probably not. Sadly, it just isn’t that simple. 

Calories in versus calories out are still true when it comes to fat loss. The reason it gets messy is that each side of that equation has many variables and we do not have a lot of control over most of them. 

Let’s first look at the difficulties of calculating the number of calories you consume each day.

I am going to turn it over to my friends at Precision Nutrition for the details on this one. 

Surprising problem with counting calories you eat [link]

Don’t even think that tracking the calories you burn is any better. See PN’s explanation of why counting calories you burn is like pissing in the wind.

Surprising problem with counting calories burned [link]

The marketing and advertising of food is big business. The people and businesses behind this advertising and marketing do not have your best interest in mind. Many claims are made that are not accurate or are “technically” correct based on a study that was funded by the company selling the product in question.  

Some people do great with higher carb diets. Other people do not.

Some people can eat a ton of protein and feel good. Others cannot.

Some people do well with higher fat diets. Others do not. 

There is no “best” plan. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling the “best” plan.

The goal for you is to pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. How do you feel when you eat more or less of certain types of foods. How do you feel if you eat first thing in the morning or later in the evening closer to going to when you sleep.

From here you can adjust what you eat and when you eat based on your body and its needs. Not because you are following the “best” or the “newest” diet.

If you have been down the restrictive road before, let’s try something better.

If you have been down the restrictive road before, let’s try something better.

Don’t go it alone. If you need some guidance, support and accountability make sure you get what you need to be successful. If you want to chat about it, schedule a call so we can figure out the best plan for you.

Until next time,

Dr. Tom


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