The myriad of dieting gimmicks floating around in the mainstream media is one of today’s most annoying trends. Most popular dieting programs (i.e. Nutrisytem, Jenny Craig, The Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet) appeal to people’s vanity with claims that promise a substantial amount of weight loss in a given amount of time which leads to Americans spending an estimated $42 billion annually on weight loss foods, products, and services. Unfortunately, dieting for the purpose of good health is rarely, if ever, emphasized. This is primarily because “dieting” isn’t healthy.
What’s healthy is a good diet. The term “dieting” describes the act of restricting calories (i.e. low/very low calorie dieting) or certain nutrients (i.e. no/low carb dieting) for the purpose of weight loss and is not to be confused with the term “diet” which simply refers to habitual eating patterns. Individuals who consume a diet rich in high-fiber whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy, moderate in lean protein, and low in fat will inhibit weight gain and improve their overall health, in the long-term. As such, a good diet should be the focus of any weight loss program.
Research shows that 1 out of every 3 adults in the United States is trying to lose weight yet nearly 70% of American adults are overweight or obese suggesting that the popularized dieting programs are not working. Why aren’t they working? Well, it’s primarily due to a lack of compliance. Dieting programs that promote weight loss with calorie or nutrient restriction are problematic because they require dramatic alterations in habitual eating patterns that lead to an inability to fully comply in the short-term. This is why over 75% of individuals who resolve to lose weight each year abandon their weight loss programs by the end of January. Furthermore, it is quite difficult, if not impossible to restrict calories and/or nutrients in the long-term, which is why 95% of individuals who do lose weight regain it over time.