Managing you weight can feel like you are on a never-ending roller coaster. One week you are up feeling like the champion of the world and the next week you can feel defeated and like you’ve ruined all of your hard work because you experienced a few bad days of unhealthy eating in a row. Why don’t diets seem to work long term and why does it seem like weight is hard to maintain?
Diets do not work long-term.
Many are shocked when they hear it, but diets are not associated with long-term weight loss. In fact, about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1 to 5 years. Dieting is defined as a temporary meal plan and unfortunately, promotes a restrictive and negative association with food. Interestingly, restricting and depriving yourself of food may actually make managing weight more difficult. It may seem counter-intuitive but regularly reducing the amount of calories your body needs can cause your metabolism to slow down. Your body requires a certain amount of calories to function and sustain your basal metabolic rate (BMR), digestion and physical activity. In theory, eating more calories than your body needs leads to weight gain, eating less can lead to weight loss, but restricting calories too much can harm your health. It can slow your metabolism, cause malnutrition and low energy or fatigue.
Lifestyle change is the answer to weight management long-term.
Several research studies have shown that consistent weight management results from changing your lifestyle. Lifestyle is defined as the way in which a person or group lives. Although not often thought of, lifestyle involves more than what goes into our bodies as food- it is our interests, opinions and behaviors. According to a study at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the hardest part of changing unhealthy habits is realizing it is a process, not an event (Hall et al 2018). Change happens in stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.
- Pre-contemplation: during this stage, most people have no intention of losing or controlling weight in the next 6 months
- Contemplation: this includes individuals who are not trying to lose or control weight but are seriously considering doing something in the next 6 months
- Preparation: During this stage, you know you want to change, believe you can and are making plans to change soon
- Action: includes those who are actively trying to lose or control weight or who have successfully done so for less than 6 months
- Maintenance: individuals who have successfully maintained their weight loss for at least six months
Lifestyle change usually occurs once an individual has gone through each of the stages of change. Through this process interests and behaviors begin to change to align with healthier food choices, incorporating exercise and making decisions that will be beneficial to your health and body long term. If you are not sure which things to prioritize on your journey to a healthy lifestyle, the five pillars of wellness are a great place to begin:
- Nutrition: A balanced diet should include lean sources of protein, plentiful amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables and limited quantities of processed foods and added sugar
- Exercise: any amount of physical activity is better than none, but the recommended about is 150 minutes per week (or two hours and 30 minutes) in at least 10 minute intervals.
- Sleep: Believe it or not, sleep is probably one of the most important activities of the day, yet it is the one we most often sacrifice. The National Sleep Association recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Stress management: Stress will get in the way of your health and life goals. It can lead to emotional eating, poor sleep and the adoption of more sedentary behaviors. In order to achieve a healthier lifestyle, you must be able to manage stress levels. Creating your own stress-management strategy is a great place to start.
- Supplementation: Nutritional supplements can help fill in nutritional gaps.
Where are you in your journey to a healthy lifestyle?
Personal testimonies reflect individual experiences and are not necessarily typical of the results you may obtain. Weight loss varies with individual effort, body composition, eating patterns and exercise. If you have a medical condition or are pregnant or nursing, AdvoCare recommends that you consult your healthcare professional before starting an AdvoCare product regimen.
Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America, 102(1), 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012
Why Diets Don’t Work: How to Avoid the Dieting Cycle & Eat for Your Health – Cedar Rapids, IA – Mercy Medical Center. Mercycare.org. (2020). Retrieved 20 September 2020, from https://www.mercycare.org/services/food-nutrition/why-diets-dont-work/#:~:text=Diets%20are%20not%20associated%20with,for%20an%20intuitive%20eating%20approach.
Lauren Horton, PhD.
Dr. Lauren Horton is a senior manager in Research and Development at AdvoCare. She has used her expertise to successfully develop protocols, clinical designs and test strategies to help AdvoCare achieve research and product development goals.
Before joining AdvoCare International, she was a clinical researcher at a leading clinical research organization. Dr. Horton loves to help improve the quality of life of those around her. She has helped men and women from all over the country discover how small steps each day can lead to huge strides towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Horton holds a BS in biology from Rust College and a PhD in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.