Why Diets Don't Work - and what to do instead!

Fad diets and quick weight loss schemes can be quite appealing, especially when we want to fit into those old jeans now! It’s also easy to get seduced by all the advertisements for programs that promise quick and effortless weight loss.

But, unfortunately, weight loss and weight maintenance are not effortless. Both involve daily dedication to making positive and healthy choices and waiting for results at a later time.

Don't Focus Just on the Number on the Scale

Following a weight loss program is not just about the number on the scale, but health matters too, especially if you need to maintain your energy to take care of a family.

Diets can Lead to Vitamin Deficiencies

A recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed the micronutrient composition of four popular diets (Atkins, Zone, LEARN, and Ornish) to determine their nutritional adequacy.  

Overweight participants were required to follow one of the assigned diets for 8 weeks. No vitamin or mineral supplement was required by the study. 

After eight weeks of being on the diets, over 25% of women had intakes lower than the daily requirement for thiamin, folic acid, vitamins C, A, and E, iron, and magnesium. 

Eliminating entire food groups, which many of these diets do, may result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which is never good for overall health or maintaining energy

What is Healthy Weight Loss?

Although we want results now, a solid, healthy weight loss program should result in a loss of approximately ½ to 1 kilogram per week. Any program that promises more weight loss than that on an on-going basis is probably a fad diet of some kind.

So what do you do if you want to Lose Weight?

First follow a balanced diet which includes lean protein, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Each food group provides a specific nutrient your body needs to function properly, so make sure each meal is well-balanced.

Don't Eat Less Than 1200 Calories Per Day

Even though it may be tempting to try to speed up your weight loss, don’t eat less than 1200 calories per day, as it is too difficult to fit in all the nutrients your body needs in less than that (plus when breastfeeding, you may affect your supply and the nutrition you are providing to your bub).

Another important factor with weight loss is accountability

Losing weight may seem like an individual problem to tackle on your own, but having strong social and professional support is one of the most important factors in losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Social support is also vitally important because it helps us feel like we are not alone on our journey and may even get us through those days when we want to give up. 

Create a new healthy community around you. This can be done in-person or online. For example, our In Shape Mummy Facebook Group is a great place to start if you want to create this type of supportive community.  With a healthy diet and a solid foundation of supportive people around you, to be there on the days you want to quit, you will reach your weight loss goals in no time.

Julie Masci, BHlthSc, APD, AN

Julie Masci is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. She is a Mum to 3 children under 10. Julie has appeared on Brisbane’s televisions as an expert dietitian on Channel 9 News, Channel 7 News, Today Tonight and Brisbane Extra, as a diet and nutrition expert. She has extensive experience as a public speaker on a variety of nutrition topics, such as obesity, diabetes, and digestive health. In her career, she has been a monthly contributor to Prevention Magazine as their Grocery Guru and Australian Weight Watchers magazine. Julie is one of In Shape Mummy’s dietitians and the founder and director of New Life Nutrition.

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