Why Dieting Does Not Work

What is a diet?

In nutrition science, we refer to diet as the sum of the nutrition value from food a person consumes.

In general terms when people speak of a 'diet' they are referring to a time frame in which they will change what they eat for health or weight-management reasons. Diets are seen as a period of punishment and lack of food in which the dieter hopes to gain specific results. The general consensus is that once you get to the desired weight outcomes, you can resume with your life as it used to be.

It is this warped idea of diet that is causing the yo-yo diet  dilemma and the billion dollar diet industry. It is also the major contributor to the obesity crisis the world is facing today.

The caloric deficit formula of dieting

This is probably one of the major contributors to yo-you dieting in the weight loss industry. When you put people on a diet and restrict their caloric intake, you will cause a starvation cycle in the body. This can only be maintained for a short while, but such a deficit makes you miserable. First of all you are always hungry. So your dietary battle becomes a fight against anything that looks mildly edible. Your body will go into overdrive to convince you to get some more food into it - any food. You have willfully put yourself in starvation mode, and your body was designed to protect itself from that. This is not a battle that anyone can win in the long term. So, if you have found yourself failing at diets because of hunger, don't be to hard on yourself, the cards were stacked against you from the first day you started.

Another reason for failing on a caloric deficit diet is that you might start losing some fat in the beginning of you diet and this weight loss causes your body to lose leptin (a hormone that is produced by your body’s fat cells), which in turn increases your hunger signals, making cravings stronger.

The worst part of this 'diet model' is the fact that it works against your body's natural satiety and energy storage mechanisms. Starving your body long term will cause it to go into famine mode. This means your body will store as much energy as it can because it is worried about where its next meal is going to come from. This mechanism is the body's natural reaction in times of food shortage. So cutting down on calories can actually cause you to gain weight. Obviously if you can starve your systems long enough you will start losing weight, but the problem with this is that most people that drive their body to that extreme will  regain 30–65% of that lost weight within one year of stopping their diet and many will find they will get more obese after the diet than what they were before the diet.

Another problem found in yo-you dieters is that the overall body fat percentage of yo-yo dieters are higher than in just overweight individuals. The reason for this is that as the body gains and loses weight, it's ability to store fat becomes much better. In this state fat is regained more easily than muscle mass and will become more prominent as the yo-yo dieting continues.

Should we be concerned about body fat

The answer is absolutely yes. Being overweight, has many negative effects on your health and your quality of life. We all know about the big five of obesity and overweight diseases - Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Non-acohol Fatty liver disease, Blood pressure problems and breathing problems.

Other health factors that are seen in overweight and obese individuals include:

  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancers
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

This leads us to the question. What are we supposed to do then.

The weight loss solution

As with so many diseases, the solution is not a quick fix tablet, it has to be a holistic solution that can be maintained for the rest of your life. Anyone that has spent time with me knows that I deem nutrition as the Basis of our health. If we have a strong base we can work on solutions for our health problems. You have to look at your weight as a health issue and not just as something you are. Consider that if you are overweight you have an illness just like those suffering from IBS, or chronic migraine, or arthritis. If you understand that it is an illness and not a state of being, you will realise that you have to fight it to beat it.

We know that certain foods causes inflammation in some people but not in others. We know that certain foods contribute to insulin resistance in some people and not in others. We know that some foods cause allergic reactions in some people and not in others, we know that some foods causes weight gain in some people and not in others and we also know that some people build up an intolerance to certain foods while others don't. The one thing we do know is that anyone that suffers from any kind of metabolic disease, the problem is cause by the food they eat.

For this reason we need to approach the problem holistically so we can close any holes where failure might creep in. Nutrition also needs a holistic approach. We need to find the food that are causing you problems, and the only way we can determine which foods these are, is to eliminate them from your diet. This can be a tedious process if you do not have a reset benchmark. What this means is that you need a baseline protocol that you can fall back on when trying to find the food that causes problems. For example, you do not know which drinks you consume are causing you problems. To find the culprit you stop drinking all of them except water. This is your baseline drink. Add other drinks after a month and test to see if they cause problems.

Note: If you suffer from a food allergy, do not use this approach without guidance as reintroducing a food allergen can cause anaphylaxis.

With this approach we can design the nutrition protocol that works perfectly for your body and fits into your lifestyle. It will keep your weight of, it will keep you healthy, motivated, satiated, mentally alert, full of energy and promote your optimal health.

Weight loss should also have other elements in it to help with the healing process. With fat gain comes muscle loss. with muscle loss comes a myriad of other health problems. We need to help the body not only to lose weight but we need to get the body to build muscle. I wrote a full article on the importance of having lean muscle mass: Muscle mass – the predictor of health and longevity

Exercise is part of the weight loss protocol, however, you have to realise that you do not exercise to lose weight, you are exercising to build lean muscle which helps burn fat. You can never out exercises a bad diet. You cannot burn more calories through exercise than you can eat in a single meal. so don't look at exercise as a weight loss tool, look at it a a necessity to your optimal health. I am not suggesting everyone must become body builders or become star athletes, I am insisting that everyone increases lean muscle mass using a program that suits their lifestyle.

Weight loss supplements

I do believe that there are tools in the human knowledge-base that can aid in the weight loss process. I use CBD oil, with Burdock, Moringa, Ginger and Garlic, Hemp seed Oil and a small detox program to help with the weight loss process. I do not believe there is a magic pill for weight loss, however, if we give our bodies the tools it needs to self correct we will find that it will go out of its way to readjust to optimal health. This is what we use the above supplements for.

I do not believe you need to suppress your appetite with products specifically designed to suppress your apatite. You need food that satiates you so you do not have the ravenous hunger pangs that drive people to overeat and binge on their favorite snacks. You need the right food and this will suppress your hunger.

I am aware that there are thousands of weight loss products on our pharmacy shelves, I am aware that there are thousands of weight loss programs all that have before and after pics, and great marketing materials. I am also aware of the promises that all these products and services promote. For us weight is an illness, and we treat it as such. It is not your identity, it is not who you are, it is something you suffer with. We not say: "Hey look at that cancer person" we say that person has cancer. We approach people who suffer with weight problems the same. We do not say: "Hey, look at that overweight person" we say that person has a weight problem.

For this reason, we use supplements to heal your body, not to lose weight because, when the body heals it will help get rid of the excess fat it does not need. It is the same reason why we choose a nutrition protocol that promotes health, we do not use nutrition for weight loss. We build your body to reach optimal health, weight is an illness that gets sorted out when your body reaches optimal health.


  1. Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview
  2. 20 years of leptin: connecting leptin signaling to biological function 
  3. How dieting makes the lean fatter: from a perspective of body composition autoregulation through adipostats and proteinstats awaiting discovery
  4. Diet, activity, and other health-related behaviors in college-age women
  5. Food allergy
  6. The impact on quality of life on families of children on an elimination diet for Non-immunoglobulin E mediated gastrointestinal food allergies


If you want us to help you through this journey, you can have a look at our coaching options

Posted in Exercise for Health, Nutrition, Obesity.

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