• why most diets fail

Why Most Diets Fail

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/


About the Author:

Robert Lalonde is the author of The ELH Diet - The Easy Way to be Lean & Healthy


  1. Avatar
    Nick February 11, 2016 at 7:38 am - Reply

    I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

  2. Avatar
    Kati February 7, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    I watch what I eat all week but I tend to order stuff out on weekends. Could two or three bad meals a week make that much difference?

  3. Avatar
    Damian January 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    People want to lose weight but they don’t want to change their eating habits. Good luck with that!

    • Robert
      Robert January 18, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      That is the big problem for many people Damian. And no, it doesn’t work!

  4. Avatar
    Jim January 12, 2016 at 9:50 am - Reply

    I’ve been reading a lot of posts saying dieting doesn’t work for most people. Is it the diets or the people?

    • Robert
      Robert January 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      There are a number of good diets Jim and any one of them will work if you follow them (I’m not talking about weightwatchers – that’s a business NOT a diet).

      The success ratio would improve tremendously if more people would take the time to choose a diet they can stick with for the long term. Having done that, stick to it as best you can and the weight will come off over time.

      Too many people are looking for a quick fix and it doens’t exist.

  5. Avatar
    Rochelle January 10, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    I’m trying to decelerate in relation to eating junk food, I’m not going to just stop eating it completely.

    • Robert
      Robert January 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Le me know how you make out with that Rochelle. From what I’ve seen, it’s the people who don’t give up takeout and junk food that can’t keep the weight off, even after they lose it.

  6. Avatar
    Pia December 30, 2015 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I cannot thank you enough for the blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  7. Avatar
    Adrienne December 29, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for why
    most diets fail

  8. Avatar
    Ian December 24, 2015 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Too many people plan to make a change in their diet tomorrow..

  9. Avatar
    Lavern December 22, 2015 at 6:10 am - Reply

    I would add binging. If you watch what you eat all week but then go on an eating binge every weekend, you’re not going to lose weight!

  10. Avatar
    Silvia December 14, 2015 at 4:54 am - Reply

    The other thing to shed unwanted weight is always to sleep adequately,
    every night.

    • Robert
      Robert December 22, 2015 at 11:55 am - Reply

      It’s true that lack of sleep affects your weight. It’s not so much that sleeping helps you lose weight, but lack of sleep affects your metabolism and that can make you reach for the wrong foods to get a boost of energy to keep going.

  11. Avatar
    Houston December 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    There is certainly a lot to know about this subject. I love all the points you made.

  12. Avatar
    Vania November 28, 2015 at 1:24 am - Reply

    The only way to control what goes in the food you eat is to cook it yourself.

  13. Avatar
    Joanna November 26, 2015 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Agree, people need to make certain it’s something they can stay with for the extended time.

  14. Avatar
    Flo November 25, 2015 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Agreed. Too many people just want to loose a few pounds after the New Year or for the beach season and don’t realize they have already made up their minds that they’re going to gain it back.

    • Robert
      Robert November 25, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Good point Flo. If you’re only thinking in terms of losing a few lbs for some special occasion or time of year, you have subconsciously decided that you will gain it back at some point down the road.

  15. Avatar
    Veronica November 24, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    My weakness is takeout foods. I’m too tired to cook after working all week so I end up ordering junk like pizza.

  16. Avatar
    Otilia November 22, 2015 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    My problem is I love take out food. I try to control how much I eat but as soon as I lose a few pounds it seems to creep right back.

    • Robert
      Robert November 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      That’s the big problem with eating out Otilia – you have no control over what goes into the meals. The restaurants want repeat business so they use lots of salt, sugar and fat – it’s a very addictive combination that happens to be very fattening as well.

  17. Avatar
    Hope November 10, 2015 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Anyone who lives on processed foods that are full of salt and sugar is likely to have a weight problem.

  18. Avatar
    Desiree October 20, 2015 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Too many people are looking for a quick fix to a long term problem. Great articles, keep up the good work!

  19. Avatar
    Tammy September 26, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    People need to start thinking long term when it comes to loosing weight.

  20. Avatar
    Dieter September 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Hard to understand why more people don’t get this.

  21. Avatar
    Rodolpho August 28, 2015 at 4:31 am - Reply

    I Agree, people need to start taking a long-term outlook.

  22. Avatar
    Millie August 27, 2015 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I’ve been reading posts lately that say it’s a complete waste of time to diet.

  23. Avatar
    Finlay August 14, 2015 at 11:27 am - Reply

    A lot of people find small apps to help them along with their diet and exercise routines.

  24. Avatar
    Gabriela August 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Outstanding tips!

  25. Avatar
    Wilfred August 6, 2015 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    A short term outlook is rarely the best choice in the long run.

  26. Avatar
    Rufus August 4, 2015 at 8:12 am - Reply

    With all this information out there, why are there still so many overweight people?

    • Robert
      Robert August 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      That’s a good question Rufus. I’m writing an article that deals with that question as we speak.

      The reason we still have so many overweight people despite all the information that’s available, is that knowledge by itself doesn’t bring about any change.

      People need to find a plan and they need to follow that plan until they lose weight. The plan in this case is called a diet or a diet plan. That’s why I wrote the ELH DIET; it’s an easy to follow plan that will get results for anyone who follows it.

  27. Avatar
    Daniele July 23, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

    I’ve tried many diets and none have worked for very long. How would it be different with the ELH DIET?

    • Robert
      Robert July 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      You said that the diets you’ve tried didn’t work for very long in your case Daniele, and that’s exactly what happens to most people.

      But, they did work for a little while didn’t they? The problem lies in finding a diet you can stick with, or follow, for many years.

      Most diets are too restrictive either in how much you can eat, or in what it is you can and can’t eat.

      In the ELH DIET we only cut out unhealthy foods and highly processed foods. I tell everyone to tailor it to what it is you like to eat so you can stick with it for years.

      So, if you like chicken, you can eat as much chicken as you like. Same goes with beef, pork and lamb etc..

      You also can eat as much as you want to on the ELH DIET. There is no portion control or limit on how often you can eat.

      You will have to give up junk foods and fast foods etc., but you will find that’s not hard to do. Once you break the habit, most people don’t miss the stuff.

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