Losing Weight Takes Hard Work

Life is complex.  Life is messy.  Simple tips, tricks, and hacks are no match for it.  Yet, this is what fad diets try to offer. 

To lose weight and keep it off we need to develop and build a deep understanding of your diet and your life, we must practice the fundamentals of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, identify our obstacles to weight loss and find ways around them, prepare ourselves for tempting food/drink situations, and develop a flexible, resilient mindset. 

In short, we need to build a comprehensive, systematic strategy that drastically changes how you interact with food and exercise.  If this sounds like a lot of hard work, well, that’s because it is. 

For the last 70 years, weight loss advice has been to reduce the number of calories you consume (caloric restriction) by modifying your behavior (behavior modification) around food and drink.  Eating a low-fat diet has been emphasized as part of this advice.

Dr. Atkins and others turned this advice upside down and emphasized eating a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet.  In the short term the diet itself was so effective in helping people lose weight that caloric restriction and behavior modification weren’t even part of the program.  This was the first mainstream instance of “gaming the system” and “getting something for nothing” from a diet program to trick your body’s physiology.

The Atkins Diet was the first mainstream diet trying to “game the system” and “get something for nothing”

The idea was that eating fat and protein made you so full that you didn’t even have to try to restrict calories or modify your behavior.  We now know this to be wholly untrue.  While this may have occurred in the short-term (and in the much simpler 1950s food environment) it wasn’t until much, much later that we had good scientific evidence showing these diets to be completely ineffective for weight loss in the long term.

Since the early days of the Atkins diet, diet gurus, marketers, and entrepreneurs have made hundreds and thousands of attempts to game the system by altering macronutrients, meal timing, food processing, hunger, and physiology.  Below is a table (Table 1) illustrating the eight main diet types that every diet fits into and a few examples of each (for a list of all the diet types click here).

Table 1. All Diet Types can Fit Into One of Eight Categories

Since the earliest diet recommendations for weight loss of the 1950s, the amount of weight lost on a classic low-fat, calorie restricted, behavior modified diet has been far lower than the client or the practitioner desires.  Instead of doubling down on making behavior modification easier and more sustainable, they’ve run in the opposite direction and tried making every conceivable diet under the sun to increase diet adherence (how well you can stick to the diet) and/or an effort to “game” your physiology into burning more calories and losing weight without trying.

We will say it again and again and again, DIET TYPE DOES NOT MATTER.  The habits, routines, and planning that happen in the background are what matter.   But that’s not what gets focused on, because that’s not fun, that’s hard work.

Diet type does not matter.  It is the habits, routines, and planning that happen in the background that determine whether or not a diet is successful or fails

It has been a very worthwhile exercise to determine whether there actually is a diet that outperforms all the others.  But the data just aren’t very convincing.  Each and every diet type out there leads to essentially the same disappointing results.  Individual studies may tell a different story but when taken as a whole, there isn’t a “best” diet and there is no “gaming” physiology.  Physiology is and always will be undefeated.  Physiology has had hundreds of thousands of years to evolve and we “smart” humans think we’re going to trick it?  Give me a break.

Trying to find the “best” diet by manipulating macronutrients or meal timing is just a distraction and takes energy away from what matters: creating a plan, being prepared for as many situations as possible, being able to think on your feet, relentlessly executing that plan, and tweaking/changing your plans when necessary.  This is what is needed, not some magical nutrient combination.

Losing weight and keeping it off is hard work.  In fact, your work will never be done.  You will always have to watch what you eat to a certain extent or you’ll gain the weight back.  This is exactly why you need to be able to create a comprehensive, systematic, streamlined, sustainable approach to diet and exercise.  When things get tough you can fall back on the “good” habits you have established. 

Dieting sucks.  It’s not fun, it’s hard.  We want to make it suck a little less by helping you streamline your everyday diet decisions.  Lifestyle Reboot takes a lot of upfront effort, and it is not for everyone.  But if you’re committed to losing weight and keeping it off forever, if you’re fed up with trying fad diets, then we think that maybe it’s time you give us a try.