"Why won't my diet work?" In some shape or form, this is the #1 question I get from clients. In my opinion, there are 3 reasons most diets do not work. With the number of different diets that are out there to choose from, it can get a little confusing deciphering not just what works from what doesn't works, but also what's healthy from what's unhealthy.
It's got to be immensely frustrating trying to lose weight without seeing the scale budge at all. I just wrapped up a trial run of my program, The Belly Burn Plan, which will be published in book form through Harlequin next spring. A vast majority of the people who did the six-week program were fed up with trying different weight loss programs only to lose a few pounds, then see them reappear shortly after stopping. The program was successful, to say the least. It's important to point out that no one was on a diet; they actually ate real food. But it was the TYPE of food that they ate that made all the difference.
Over the six weeks, I got a lot of questions and had to explain a lot of things. There were a few points I kept coming back to that really helped people get their head around why they couldn't lose weight in the first place. After they understood those basic points, and applied tactics that helped them address their concerns, the weight came off. Keep in mind, The Belly Burn Plan isn't The Biggest Loser. Weight loss is slow (1 to 3 pounds a week), steady and, in my opinion, permanent, with the right lifestyle changes.
With that, here are a 3 big reasons why your diet probably isn't working:
1) You're Dealing with Inflammation
When you have chronic inflammation, it is very, very difficult for your body to lose weight. Chronic inflammation isn't a sore throat every once in a while or a redness from a paper cut, rather it's allergies, eczema, psoriasis and other conditions that affect millions of us every day. Chronic inflammation is also being overweight. When we have extra fat on our body, particularly around our midsection, those fat cells actually shoot off inflammatory signals the body interprets as a bright red stop sign on the road to weight loss.
One of the best ways to circumvent inflammation is through our diet. Eating more foods that are anti-inflammatory, and fewer foods that are pro-inflammatory will make a profound difference in how you feel within a few days and how you look within two weeks.
Next week I'll be publishing a list of anti-inflammatory foods you can print out and hang on your fridge. Until then, you can read more about what I've written on anti-inflammatory foods right here.
2) You're Using Exercise to Undo Bad Eating Habits
You can't exercise away a bad diet. Let me say that again, you can't exercise away a bad diet. Just because you rocked your 60-minute spinning class or had an amazing 7-mile run today doesn't give you license to eat whatever you want.
There are a few things at play here when it comes to exercise and weight gain. First of all, most of us overestimate the amount of calories we burn during a workout. After we finish the workout, we feel deserving of something extra to eat. In most people, it's completely unnecessary to eat anything extra until you've worked out non-stop for 90 minutes. At that point, your body could use something extra. But if you wrap up a workout that's an hour or so long, you really don't need to eat anything more…especially if you want to lose weight.
Another thing people don't realize is that if you workout in your "fat burning zone," your body actually becomes much more efficient at burning fat. On the face of it, this sounds amazing, but in reality, that's not what you want. A car that uses gas efficiently doesn't burn through a lot of gas. Similarly, a body that uses fat efficiently doesn't burn through a lot of fat. Over the long run, you become a slower fat burner. It's true that the time you spend working out burn more fat, but the benefits end as soon as the workout does. My advice is to get OUT of the fat burning zone (thereby out of your comfort zone) and do some high intensity interval training (HIIT). Not only does HIIT affect the way your body burns fat long after the workout is over, but it also targets belly fat, something most of us want. The beauty of HIIT is that you don't need to workout very long to get great results.
Here is a group of short, but effective HIIT workouts that you can do starting today.
Remember, even if you do the HIIT workouts, you still eat the same as you normally would if you didn't workout at all. The only caveat is to eat a little more after a hard 90-minute+ workout. Your go-to macronutrient at that point should be protein, not carbs.
3) You're Eating Diet Foods
I see this all the time. When I first start working with my clients, they're hung up on "diet foods" because the label on the packaged food they bought says it's what their body needs to lose weight. Words like light, fat free, natural and organic make them feel like what they're eating is healthy. More often than not, it's not the case. Diet sodas, fat free salad dressings, 100-calorie snack packs and other foods like that are highly processed, loaded with additives, pro-inflammatory (see point 1) and not a real game-changer in the permanent weight loss game.
Instead of eating diet foods, eat real foods. One of the greatest allures of diet foods is that you're eating fewer calories. This isn't always a good thing. Similar to the "fat burning zone" example in point 2, when you restrict your calories too far, your body becomes very efficient at burning calories (using energy). When you do start eating normal, real food, or have a string of days where your eat more than what your body is accustomed to, you'll gain weight. I can nearly guarantee this!
Real foods aren't a mystery or hard to come by. Vegetables, fruits, fresh meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc., are a few examples. Start eating fewer processed foods (even if the label says they're healthy) and more fresh foods. You'll see a difference right away.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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