Diets Don’t Work – Here are 10 Proven Tips and Habits to do Instead

Did you know 80% of people who start a diet either won’t complete it or won’t see benefits from it?

image of a plate with a frown on it,
And I’m going to say it, diets suck – Photo by Thought Catalog

In reality, the number might be closer to higher, since studies done at UCLA found that while diets may help you lose 5 to 10% of starting weight in the first 6 months, you tend to gain that back and then some.

Some studies even indicate that dieting is a predator of future weight gain.

So what gives? Is it just impossible to lose weight if you want to?

No, it’s not impossible. You can reach an optimal weight while increasing fitness (but remember, thinner doesn’t always mean healthier!).

Diets just don’t work to do this.

Keep reading to find out what to do instead for health benefits that may result in you reaching an optimal weight.

Why Dieting Tends to Fails

Just look at the show the Biggest Loser. It, first of all, is very deceptive in its portrayal, and second, teaches us nothing.

Participants on the biggest loser are sometimes encouraged to gain more weight before going onto the show and are sometimes asked to withhold drinking water to have a more extreme ‘weight loss’ revealed later on in the show.

And of a sample of 10 participants, 9 of them gained back the weight.


Well, extreme calorie reduction along with extreme workouts for long periods is not good for the metabolic rate of the body. 

It’s not as simple as a calorie in calorie out equation when you take into account all the nuances that make up the human body.

What diets fail to understand is the underlying mechanism related to human biology. It’s normal for our bodies to resist weight loss! In the past, our ancestors tried to store fat to survive during months when food was less readily available.

Furthermore, dieting doesn’t teach us health habits that tend to lead to weight loss naturally.

Healthy Tips and Habits to Increase Health and Lose Weight Naturally

Here are the top ten tips and habits you can incorporate in your life to increase overall health. This does not mean drastic weight loss, every body is different and not all of us should be a size zero.

What this will do is help you feel better and may indeed result in long-term optimal weight management, without extreme dieting.

Eat Foods with a Low Glycemic Index

What is this? I thought low glycemic food was for diabetics? I thought so too! But here’s the quick rundown on the science behind it.

When you eat anything, your blood sugar spikes, resulting in the body releasing insulin to move it, utilize it, or store it.

Problems happen when we snack constantly throughout the day foods that have a high glycemic index, meaning they spike blood sugar levels drastically and quickly.

As this goes on, your body starts needing more and more insulin for these hectic spikes, resulting in metabolic syndrome, obesity, and potentially diabetes.

Foods with a lower glycemic index are those that do not spike blood sugar. This includes protein, fat, and complete carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes. Reach for these instead of simple carbs like that found in white bread or chips.

Eat Whole Foods When Possible

Whole foods are defined as foods that are not processed, meaning they do not require any chemicals, preservatives, or additives.

Think of the fruits and vegetables on the outer parts of grocery stores, not the cans and boxes in the aisles.

Scientists believe that part of the reason it was easier to be thinner in the past was due to fewer preservatives and additives in food products. These additives can sometimes harm our bodies in unseen ways, like reducing good gut micro bacteria that help manage weight, metabolism, and mood.

Instead of Intense Workouts, Do Short Consistent Routines

Research shows that daily activity and movement are more beneficial than long strenuous workouts.

In fact, working out doesn’t have to be a chore. People are getting up and out of the house with a silly little walk, which is an activity that has great benefits! 

Walking itself is a low impact workout that many can incorporate into their daily life, as it does not take too much time.

Even something like a HIIT workout can improve health without taking up hours in the gym.

Focus on Eating Mindfully

Eating mindfully means taking note of when you eat, what you eat, and more importantly how you eat.

Learn to listen more to what your body is telling you, really take note of it. Are you hungry or simply bored? Is it just thirst, or do you need a pick-me-up snack?

Whatever it is, when you do you, be sure to really taste the food, almost mindfully, taking note of the taste, texture, and the present moment.

Try to take note of when you feel emotional and if that sparks a desire to eat. 

Learn more about yourself and your eating habits, without judging yourself, to take steps towards new, healthier habits.

Eat Lighter For Dinner

Some research is now showing that many bodies tend to process food differently at different parts of the day.

For example, a high-carb meal for dinner may reduce the quality of sleep, and increase insulin levels drastically, as your metabolism is slower later in the day relating to circadian cycles that naturally happen in the body.

Circadian cycles are those to do with your internal clock; at the end of the day, the body prepares for sleep due to less light exposure, and will not digest food to the same efficiency.

If you do eat carb heavy meals, try to do so for breakfast or lunch!

Be Consistent with Meal Times

The body experiences insulin anticipation. This means, if you regularly eat at noon every day, the body starts to release insulin right before eating, anticipating the meal you are about to consume.

This means that being consistent with meals times can actually help your body process and digest food! When you skip a meal or drastically change a mealtime, your body may become out of balance metabolically.

Reduced Added Sugar

The world health organization has called for added sugars to be reduced from people’s diets, finding many health benefits when added sugars consist of at most 5% of your daily meals. This is about 40 grams or 10 teaspoons.

This sugar does not include that intrinsically found in fruits and vegetables.

Sounds easy then. Cut back the sugar. The problem?

Sugars are hidden everywhere, in foods that aren’t even sweet like soups and condiments, and have over 50 pseudonyms

Check out all the different ways sugar is added to food and its different names here.

Do Not Eat Low Fat Produces

Low fat or reduced-fat products that promise weight loss benefits to lie.


Instead of fat (an ingredient that tends to be lower in glycemic levels) nonfat or reduced-fat products replace it with sugar.

Which can have incredible negative health effects when consumed in excess!

Practice the 80/20 Philosophy

80 20 philosophy simply means that nothing is off-limits. Maybe this means you eat very healthy 5 days a week and treat yourself two days. 

Maybe it means making your portion size smaller and enjoying 2 slices of pizza, not the entire box (looking at you, me).

During the day, maybe you practice 80% healthy, 20% indulgent, without going overboard and binging.

Knowing you have the option of eating some of your favorite foods and desserts can help you not overeat and will develop your relationship with food, your body, and yourself in a healthy way.

Remember, Not Every Body is the Same

We all see how social media distorts beauty standards. With photoshop, face tuning, and filters, we set unnatural expectations of what we want our bodies to be.

Some people are naturally small while others are bigger. Some only gain weight in their waist, while for others, it all goes to the thighs.

Every body type is valid, and just because you want to lose weight, does not mean you’ll reach thin levels. I mean, not everyone will have abs, just because of the way your body distributes natural healthy fat on the body!

The Takeaway

Smaller does not always mean thinner, so remember while losing weight can have beneficial effects, it’s important to do so in a healthy way.

Eat foods that make you feel good, that are good for you, and that you enjoy.

Having optimal weight means making lifestyle changes that provide overall wellbeing benefits.

So skip the diets, and start your fitness journey today, one step at a time!

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