Updated: Jan 8
Thinking of going on another diet to lose some extra pounds? Perhaps this time it will really ‘work’?
Statistics say that 90- 95% (1) of people that commit to a diet regain the weight (and often more) and in the next 1- 5 years. So how effective are diets anyway?
While seeing statistics like that, it makes you wonder if losing weight is a near impossible mission. Does it mean that all weight loss efforts are for nothing? Or perhaps the entire topic of weight loss needs a whole new approach?
If you’re coaxed in by ‘before and after’ shots and strong claims like ‘Lose 1st per week!’ or ‘This is going to be your LAST diet!’, remember that the dieting industry in the USA alone was worth around $70 billion in 2018. If diets truly worked, would we need to do them over and over? I think not.
Luckily, there has been an ongoing study conducted in the USA called the National Weight Loss Registry, that has documented findings of thousands of people, who have successfully lost weight and kept it off for good.
Want to know what they all had in common and what they did to gain success? It might be very different to what the dieting industry has led you to believe.
Before we dive into the findings of the research, it’s actually incredibly important how you approach your weight loss journey and whether your motivation is coming from the ‘right place’.
Too many people approach weight loss with ‘negative motivation’ (2), that is coming from a place of resentment, doubt and is focused on their present situation and resentment towards it. This type of motivation is short- lived and once a challenge comes up, drop out and lapse rates are high.
Instead focus on shifting your motivation to the expected outcome- how you will feel once you are there, what will this allow you to do, how different your body will feel and etc. Make sure your motivation remains ‘positive’ throughout the process and impatience doesn't take over.
Findings from the National Weight Loss Registry
All the participants of the study ditched skipping meals and muscling through their hunger and instead were eating regular meals throughout the day. That did range form 3 larger meals to 6 smaller meals per day, depending on the person. However, none of them were skipping their meals or going more than 4- 5 hours without meals or snacks.
Never skipping breakfast
All the participants repeatedly reported that they never ever miss breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day that helps balance blood sugar and boost sustained energy and therefore is key for sustained weight loss. Having a nutritious dense breakfast can help curb cravings and overeating throughout the day.
Each participant reported increased levels of activity, whether it was exercise or simply movement. Some have indeed increased their weekly visits to the gym, but many have just started walking more, taking the stairs instead of the lift and moving around regularly in the day. This just proves that you don’t have to be doing intense spinning classes or boot camps to lose weight.
No cheat days
Whether it was a holiday or a weekend, the participants of the study have mainly stuck to their regular routine. Sure, having some additions or different foods, but avoiding ‘cheat day’ and ‘blow out’ mentality when changing their scenery. Instead they seemed to be sticking to 80/20 rule, making sure that they eat nutritious balanced meals the majority of the time, without depriving themselves.
No weight loss goal
Instead of making weight loss goals in weight, the participants have used the principles of ‘positive motivation’ and focused on the desired outcomes and how they intend to feel as their main goal. Very different to the regular diet ‘Lose 3st in 3 months’ message.
Watch less TV
Many of the participants of the study committed to watching less TV and replacing it with different activities. Mainly, as to many watching TV while eating has become a major trigger time and a time of overeating the most, as it’s too easy to miss satiety signals when focusing on something else.
And most importantly, every single participant of the study highlighted consistency. It’s not about doing something once or for a short while, it’s about keeping doing the right action over and over again until it becomes a habit. All applies to activity, food habits and lifestyle change.
People around you can influence your weight
And that’s not all. Some incredible findings from Harvard research (4) claim that people around you can have a huge influence on your weight. So it’s important that you’re able to distinguish the messages and are reflective on the habits of people around you.
Calorie Control Council National Consumer Survey, 2010 (http://www.aloriecontrol.org/press-room/trends-and-statistics)