All it takes is a few random google searches on weight loss, dieting, and long-term success on diets to realize there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. The percentages may widely vary, but the consensus appears to be the same: statistically diets do not work, because they are not sustainable long-term. There are many reasons for this, but especially for the diets that require you to make drastic changes to your eating habits, what inevitably happens is that people revert back to some form of their original eating habits, regardless of the success that they may have seen. Some approach diets as a temporary thing, and once goal is reached, they loosen the restrictions. One sobering statistic said that only 5% of dieters sustain their weight loss for 5 years or more.
I think we all can agree that regardless of your approach, ultimately what everyone who is trying to lose weight is looking for is a plan that is sustainable and manageable. Not only do people want to see short term success, but long-term benefits.
A list of Canadian statistics relating to weight loss:
In very generalized terms, one pound is the equivalent of 3500 calories. The way that anyone can lose weight is to create a caloric deficit. So, for instance, if your goal is to lose 1 pound a week, you would have to create a 500 caloric deficit every weekday. This can be achieved through less food consumption, more exercise, or a combination of both. The key here really is food consumption, however. If you are looking to burn off 500 calories with exercise alone, that’s the equivalent of a 5-mile run!
Instead of depending solely on a diet for your weight loss, a suggested approach is to choose which eating plan you feel would work best for you and your lifestyle, loosen the reins a bit and adopt a yes/no Mental Model approach to your weight loss. Below are some examples of popular diets, and a way to modify them to fit your lifestyle better.
- Basics: Keto diet aims to severely limit your carb intake, putting yourself in a state of ketosis, where your body burns almost purely fat for energy.
- Mental Model approach to Keto: Even without a state of ketosis, if you are being mindful of your eating and working to be active, your body will naturally use fat stores to burn energy, after it has burned what it can from carbs and sugar. So, actively look for ways to limit your carb intake. At the end of the day ask yourself “Did I limit the number of carbs I ate today?” (yes/no)
- Basics: A diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.
- Mental Model approach to Paleo: While the basic concept is sound, the issue that some have with Paleo is the absence of whole grains and legumes, which are considered good sources of fiber. Paleo also eliminates dairy, which are good sources of protein and calcium. A suggested approach to paleo is to work to eliminate foods that come out of a box or a can. At the end of the day, ask yourself “Did I limit the amount of processed foods I ate today?”
- Basics: A diet based on eating only lean meat, beans and veggies for six days a week, completely cutting out all “white foods”: sugar, pasta, rice, bread and cheese.
- Mental Model approach to Slow-Carb: Instead of strictly adhering to something for six days a week, find a slow-carb method that works best for you. At the end of the day, ask yourself “Did I limit the amount of white foods that I ate today?”
- Basics: Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
- Mental Model approach to Intermittent Fasting: There are six popular ways to achieve Intermittent Fasting:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day. Eat during an 8-hour window
- The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week and eat normally for five days a week
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day
- The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night
- Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.
Whichever you choose, that fits your lifestyle, at the end of the day ask yourself “Did I completely my Intermittent Fasting successfully today?”
Which eating plan works best for you? We’d love to hear from you!
Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay