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Why MOST Diets Fail.

Nerissa Shea @nerissa_sheafitness

Photo from Everyday Health



Originally the word ‘diet’ meant a way of life, these days, however, diet means a period of time where you over restrict yourself in a type &/or amount of food.

Successful ‘dieters’ will –

1. Avoid dichotomous thinking.

aka – black or white thinking. i.e. – food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

2. Avoid eating to regulate mood.

3. Have a more positive body image.

4. Have less frequent disinhibited eating.

Disinhibited eating is used as an umbrella term to encompass behaviors that involve a lack of healthy restraint over food intake, including binge eating and loss of control eating, emotional eating, and eating in the absence of hunger.


They have a strong WHY & ultimately understand the benefits associated with why they are doing what they are doing.

Successful ‘dieters’ DO:

1. Be physically active.

2. Resistance train.

3. Have low food variety.

4. Eat fewer takeaways.

5. Be consistent throughout the week.

6. Eat high-volume foods.

7. Weigh themselves regularly

However, this is only suggested if one’s mood and self-worth are not associated with the said number on the scales.

What messes with most people’s diet?


When people start tracking, they are meticulous with measuring everything but as time goes on, they get a little bit more slack in the tracking process which can easily result in a few hundred calories racking up fairly quickly which in turn NEGATES THE CALORIE DEFICIT.


Reduced basal metabolic weight.

If you weigh less, your body in turn requires less energy for its day-to-day functions.

Increased efficiency.

When people lose weight, their energy requirements change. The energy required for you to walk 100 meters weighing 90kg is greater than the energy required to walk the same distance but now weighing 80kg.

Reduced activity (NEAT – Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis, in particular)

It is worth noting how freakin' SMART our bodies are. If we put ourselves in a calorie deficit over a prolonged period of time, our bodies respond to this by attempting to reduce energy expenditure. Subconsciously, we move a bit less!

We NEED to step away from the idea – ‘Oh I exercised today so it’s okay if I sit on the couch all evening’.


If you are dieting, this is COMMON!


Ghrelin (short term) – Give me food…now, please.

Leptin (long term) – Related to one’s body fat levels.

Low leptin levels occur when body fat levels drop.


Ghrelin is released from the GI tract & stimulates the initiation of meals.

IMPORTANT – studies found that metabolic adaptation was observed for caloric restriction alone but NOT caloric restriction & exercise.

POS – EXERCISE along with dieting is KEY to success!


Firstly, it is worth pointing out, various studies have shown that the mindset around dieting far outweighs the impact of genetic make-up.

So, therefore, WHY do a DNA test to find out if you are predisposed to it being harder to lose weight?

Is this not a self-fulfilling prophecy to an extent?

Re-affirming your belief that something is f***ing hard doesn’t make it any easier.

If you want it, you have to be willing to work for it.

Certain gene variants have been linked to being overweight or obese. This results in an increased drive to eat and/or a reduced drive to move.

Those who have 1 copy of the risk mutation variant weigh an average of 1.5kg more, those with 2 copies are on average 3kg heavier.

This is not a death sentence. This is not an astounding amount of weight and thus should not be treated as such.

Your actions & behaviors are what contribute to your overall health, so build better habits!

If it matters to you, you will try your best to adhere to them most of the time!

How can we help? REFEEDS


A refeed is a period of eating at maintenance calories or above to give your mind & body a break from dieting.

The aim is to minimize or partially reverse the adaptations to calorie restriction.

Benefits include:

Physiological –

Increased strength & performance

Increased energy expenditure

Increased perception of daily energy

Increased recovery

Increased leptin levels

Psychological –

Mental break

Increased motivation

Increased social

Reduced stress

Something to look forward to

Reduced feeling of restriction

The success of your diet is very much determined by your mindset around the diet and how restricted you feel.

I personally feel (in my opinion, from my own experience) a flexible dieting approach whereby one is in a slight caloric deficit (15 - 20%) is both physically & mentally sustainable.

Quick fixes WORK, I am not denying that, but are they sustainable and easily maintained? ABSOLUTELY NOT and thus in my opinion, can this be classed as truly ‘working’?


Nerissa Shea


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