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The reason why most diets fail is that people are looking for a quick way to lose weight rather than a diet they can stick to long term. That’s why the average person ends up gaining about 10 pounds for every diet they go on rather than losing any weight. What’s even more discouraging is that the muscle and fat that’s lost in the diet is replaced  entirely by fat when the weight is regained.

In addition, dieting only makes things worse for many people because their metabolism ends up slower than it was before they went on the diet.

Dieters end up needing fewer calories just to maintain their weight than they did before the diet.

Our Changing Food Supply

We evolved on a diet of meats, vegetables, seafood, nuts and fruit. Our ancestor were not surrounded by processed foods or fast foods as we are today.

Supplies were harder to come by and it was often a case of feast or famine. As part of our survival mechanism, we developed an ability to store fat for a rainy day and this is hard-wired in us to this day. Since we have a constant availability of food in our modern societies, that rainy day never comes and we keep packing away more emergency supplies in the form of body fat.

Modern Consumption Patterns

Today, we are faced with a constant accessibility to high-energy, calorie-packed foods and our diet provides us with far more energy than we need.

In addition, we have a wide variety of fast food restaurants and prepared meals that are available, all of which tends to remove us from being aware of the content of the foods we eat.

Those of us who eat a more traditional diet of home cooked meals usually consume far fewer calories than people who feast on convenience foods and fast foods from the numerous restaurants that cater to them.

Increased Calorie Intake

Our calorie consumption has increased dramatically in the past 50 years.  Americans now consume an average of 3,900 calories a day, up from 3,000 calories a day in the 1970s  and early 1980s. We are consuming nearly double the amount of energy we need and what’s worse, many of these are empty calories provided by sugars and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

American Sugar Consumption Per Year

American sugar consumption per year is estimated at 152 pounds of added sugars.[1] White table sugar (sucrose) is composed of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose is an important nutrient in our bodies and is beneficial provided it is consumed in moderation.

The fructose that we obtain from fruits and vegetables is not a concern.  The large quantities of fructose being consumed as sugar and HFCS in the modern diet however, is a problem. When your liver is bombarded on a daily basis with large amounts of fructose it generates fats in the blood that can lead to diabetes and other chronic problems.

Fructose also suppresses leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. A reduction in leptin signaling makes your brain think you’re still hungry no matter how much you’ve had to eat.

Addictive Properties of Sugar

Sugar has proven to be extremely addictive for many people. Some studies show refined sugar to be as addictive as cocaine and as the food industry keeps putting more sugar in our processed foods, Americans consume more and more.

Fructose Creates More Fat Than Glucose

Glucose is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the cells. Fructose however, is delivered directly to the liver where it is converted to fat. Too much fructose can lead to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.[2]

Studies show that as little as a 25 percent increase in fructose consumption can lead to a 4-fold increase in abdominal fat as compared to glucose! [3]

Abdominal fat is a predictor of metabolic diseases such as insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Why Most Diets Fail

The famine survival mechanism is probably the main cause for dieters gaining more weight after each diet. People stick to a calorie reduced diet for about 6 months and then go back to eating what they were eating before going on the diet.

Because their metabolism has slowed down, they now need fewer calories to maintain their weight. By going back to their pre-diet calorie intake, they quickly regain whatever weight they lost and pick up a few additional pounds because they now require fewer calories to function.

Dieting Causes Rebound Weight Gain

  • People need fewer calories when they come off a diet just to maintain their weight.
  • The brain turns up the hunger signal to help recover lost fat.
  • The fullness signal is reduced to encourage weight gain.
  • Food addictions kick back in just as they do when smokers start smoking again.

How To Keep Weight Off Long-Term

The way to lose weight and keep it off is to change what it is you are eating. By simply eliminating the empty calories from your diet, you will significantly reduce your calorie intake without reducing your food intake.

It’s important that you keep eating a good amount of food so the famine survival mechanism won’t kick in and cause the changes that guarantee rebound weight gain. One of the main reasons why most diets fail is that people look for some quick way to lose weight quickly and it’s not something they can stick with for the rest of their lives.

We’re all familiar with the saying that the definition of insanity is someone doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That’s exactly what most dieters are doing!

Good healthy foods won’t trigger the addictive eating behavior that is responsible for much of the obesity problem. Start eating sensibly and don’t worry about losing weight quickly. Worry about keeping the weight off – that’s the real problem.

 

[1] http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17690317?dopt=AbstractPlus&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/