Diets and desire to lose weight are as popular as ever. According to Mondovo, over 550,000 people search for “how to lose weight” on Google every month. There are constantly new diets coming up. It was the Atkins Diet, then a low-fat diet, and then the keto diet. You can see below some data from Google Trends showing the increasing popularity of keto diet searches, and the decreasing popularity of the Atkins diet, showing the change of diets over the years.
Diets are constantly changing, and our understanding of the human body and metabolic system is always developing. We have a growing body of research about diets, and it isn’t as hopeful as you may think. You may have heard that there’s a difference between a diet and a lifestyle change, and a lifestyle change is necessary to create long-term weight loss. We’re going to dive into whether diets work or not, how a lifestyle change may be better, and how to actually make the change.
Do Diets Work?
Many people come to dieting in order to change their relationship with food. We can eat in a way that makes it unhealthy, and it’s hard to stop self-destructive behaviors sometimes. Eating is also one of the unhealthy ways many people deal with stress that we cover in our post 9 Unhealthy Ways of Coping with Stress.
There has been a lot of research on various diets. However, it’s important to consider first the source and funding of research. For example, you’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But did you know that the majority of this research is funded and done by breakfast companies? You can read this great article here to learn more.
First, let’s just lay it out there. If you were to look for a common thread in the research on dieting, you will find one thing: dieting does not produce long-term weight loss very effectively. According to researchers at UCLA, you may lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight. However, dieting produces an effect responsible for many individuals gaining the weight right back. In fact, the majority of people who diet gain the weight back, plus more.
One thing to keep in mind is that one diet doesn’t work for everyone. What works for your trainer, friend, or sister may not work for you. We have individual bodies, and we respond differently to changes in diet. TIME reports that the key to weight loss may be a personalized change rather than some fix-all trendy diet.
Another fact to consider is that although diets may seem incredibly different, the actual differences in results are generally small. Harvard Health reports on a study in which researchers found low-fat diets to be just as effective at producing short-term weight loss as low-carb diets in study participants. So although these are different diets on the surface, one may not necessarily be better for weight loss than the other.
Although it’s not directly related to dieting, it’s also important to look at exercise. There’s a lot of mixed research, but the truth is that exercise will not automatically make you lose weight. As Healthline shares, exercise often makes people hungrier. Especially when you’re new to exercise, you may overeat after working out. That doesn’t mean exercise can’t help, but you have to watch what you eat. It also has various other health benefits.
Why Lifestyle Change is Better
So, why do many doctors, nutritionists, and coaches suggest making lifestyle changes? Simple. They tend to be more effective. This is due to a variety of causes, and everyone is different. Overall, here are a few reasons you may want to make a bigger change, and we’ll uncover what the difference is between a lifestyle change and a diet.
Lifestyle Changes are Longer Term
This is perhaps the biggest point. A lifestyle change is a long-term change. Diets are often just temporary, and the majority of people don’t stay on a diet for more than a few months. With a lifestyle change, you’re building a foundation and continuing with your new way of living.
Maybe you start with a diet, then find a way to make it more sustainable. There are many ways to encourage your diet to become a way of life, and you can create a lifestyle change that is built off a diet that works for you.
Lifestyle Changes are Personal
Unlike many fad and popular diets, a lifestyle change allows for some flexibility. Rather than following a set plan created by someone else, you can figure out for yourself what works. This makes you more likely to stay on your plan, as it isn’t such a stretch to eat or exercise in a certain way.
This is something that a life coach, personal trainer, or nutritionist may help you discover. There are many types of life coaches, many of whom specialize in helping individuals achieve these lifestyle changes. A qualified health or nutrition coach can give you support and guide you through creating a personal plan for yourselv.
They Become Routine
One thing about diets is that we often are forcing ourselves to eat in a certain way. We avoid foods we love, eat at times we don’t like to eat, and generally may be trying hard to fit into the plan. One of the differences between diets and a lifestyle change is the act of creating a routine with your new healthy action.
With a lifestyle change, you can create a personal plan that fits into your day. As you live each day according to your intentions, you will build a habit. It’s similar to brushing your teeth or taking the garbage out. As you do it more regularly, it naturally becomes a habit in your day.
You Can Create Balance
Finally, a lifestyle change offers you the opportunity to create balance. With diets, you may be striving in an unhealthy way to achieve your weight loss goals. A lifestyle change is built from the ground up by you (and maybe some support), with balance in mind. You don’t want to be too strict, and you don’t want to be too lazy.
In our post on the benefits of life coaching at https://shifts.coach/life-coaching/benefits/, we talk about how life coaching can help you create plans and see new perspectives. With some support, you can create a plan for your health that is attainable and not too strenuous.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes isn’t as simple as just making a decision. You have to come up with a plan, be patient, and continue to investigate what is useful for you and your health. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making these changes in your life.
Remain Open Minded
First, remember that we are works in progress. Remain open-minded, and willing to change your plan. As you observe what works for you and what doesn’t, don’t be afraid to make changes. You never know what may be useful. Try different things, and give each one a true shot to see if they work.
Be Patient with Yourself
Unlike fad diets, there’s no promise with a lifestyle change of rapid weight loss. Instead, you’re creating a foundation of health for your life. Once you find a new way of living that works for you, it may take some time to begin to see the results. Be patient with yourself, and don’t give up!
Do What Works for You
We are constantly being bombarded by diet plans, health advice, and food marketing. Remember that you don’t need to do what works for other people. Stick to your plan; you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your friend who tries to convince you that their way is the “right way” is not always worth listening to.
Create an Exercise Plan
One aspect of a lifestyle change that can be helpful is to create a plan for exercise. It may be surprising that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to encourage weight loss and bring health benefits to your body. Don’t go overboard and set intentions that you won’t follow through with. Maybe try just walking for 30 minutes a day, taking the dog for a walk, or swimming.
Set Attainable Goals
One thing you absolutely must keep in mind is to set goals that are realistic. We’ve already mentioned this a few times here, but it’s an important standalone point. If we set our sights too high, we are likely to let ourselves down. This can cause us to lose steam. Instead, set goals that will encourage and push you, but won’t be impossible to achieve.
Find an Accountability Buddy
There is a reason many weight loss programs, like Weight Watchers, consist of a social aspect. Community and a support network can be extremely beneficial. According to a 2016 study, support may help individuals lose and maintain their weight. Furthermore, the study found that the best kind of support was positive support rather than instructional support. So find a buddy or community to support you!
Track Your Progress
Finally, track your progress. Whether you’re doing well with your goals or falling behind, keeping track can go a long way. You will get a clearer idea of your weaknesses and where you are thriving. A simple journal of what you eat, how you exercised, how you feel, etc. is enough to give you a great advantage.
In the end, considering diets vs lifestyle changes, it certainly is better for long-term weight loss to make bigger and more sustainable changes. However, it takes a lot of effort to do it. Remember, you can indeed do it. Don’t fall victim to the fad diet craze of today!