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Dr Nick Fuller: 5 reasons diets don’t work, and what to do instead

6 May 2019
Restricting yourself ultimately doesn't work. Here's why.
At the heart of International No Diet Day is the celebration of a healthy lifestyle, body acceptance and self-love. Leading obesity researcher Dr Nick Fuller shares his advice on why you should ditch fad diets for good.
Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller, Commercial and Industry Research Leader and Bestselling Author of Interval Weight Loss and Interval Weight Loss For Life.

1. We are all tuned to a set point

During our time as hunter-gatherers, we would often go for days without food. This meant our bodies became very good at eliminating stress and slowing down during times of deprivation to prevent any weight loss. This was essential in order to pro-create. However, in the modern-day environment, food is everywhere, and we have a hard time resisting it. Consequently, our waistlines grow, and when we attempt to do something about it by going on a diet, our evolutionary propensity to get back to our set point (our starting weight before going on the diet) will always beat our attempt to keep the weight off.

2. Body metabolism slows

When you lose weight on a diet, strong biological forces kick into gear. Your metabolism (how much energy you burn at rest) will slow until you regain all the weight you lost. Worse still, your metabolism is unlikely to recover and will stay lower than before you went on the diet, which results in you stacking on more weight than you lost.

3. Diets are dangerous and unhealthy

Most diets tell you to avoid certain foods or entire food groups. Carbs are a common scapegoat because when you eliminate carbs you see instant results on the scales. This is because every gram of carbohydrate binds nearly three grams of water, so this ends up weighing quite a bit. What you are witnessing on the scales is a decrease in water content in the body, not a decrease in fat mass. Most importantly, we know wholegrain carbs are important for our health and their inclusion helps a person lose weight. By excluding them you from your eating plan, you are putting yourself at increased risk of disease, such as type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease.

4. Appetite hormones increase

After you lose weight, your appetite will increase; your appetite hormones will function differently, telling your brain to eat more. This is your body starting to work differently to ensure you eat more food and stack the weight back on. So, despite how strong your urge is to resist that food, your body is going to fight itself until you go back to your start point.

5. Most diets are unrealistic

Most diets are built on the foundation of calorie counting, following set meal plans, scouring the supermarket or health food store for obscure ingredients and following militant exercise regimes. These are unsustainable and unnecessary approaches. You can’t stay on an 6, 8 or 12-week plan forever! And calorie counting is a complete waste of time. Not all calories are equal, meaning we don’t absorb all the energy from some foods such as nuts and vegetables, and weight loss is not as simple as calories in versus calories out.

healthy breakfast

Dr Nick Fuller recommends the Interval Weight Loss Program as a scientifically proven method to lose weight and keep it off.

So, if most diets don't work, what does?

Just as the problem is evolutionary, the solution is evolutionary too. The only way to redefine your set point - to prevent your body fighting the weight loss - is to impose breaks along the way. An Interval Weight Loss (IWL) approach, as outlined in ‘Interval Weight Loss For Life’ allows you to lose two kilograms of weight over a month, and then imposes a period of weight maintenance over the next month, before then being allowed to go on and lose weight again, and so on, until a person’s goal weight is achieved.

This allows a person to lose 12 kg a year when typically they lose 12 kg in a few weeks on a diet and then stack it right back on. Most importantly, the IWL plan teaches a person how to retrain their brain to reduce their addiction to processed and fast food, whilst also learning how to eliminate common struggles such as comfort and emotional eating.

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