Does dieting really work?

Abby Ellin
Nutrition & Dietetics
Joanne Ikeda, the codirector of the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health, believes that diets fail 95 percent of the time and
promote binge eating and obesity--and are the problem. Not fat.

Studies seem to corroborate this (and this has certainly been the case in my own experience). From 2000 to 2001 Ikeda and her colleagues surveyed 149 obese women, some of whom weighed over 500 pounds. More than eight in ten of those who began dieting before age fourteen said they were never able to maintain permanent weight loss.

Julie Miller Jones, professor of nutrition and food science at the College of St. Catherine in Arden Hills, Minnesota, also thinks that dieting can lead to weight gain. “There is some thought that continuous
dieting, particularly with rather severe caloric restriction, forces the metabolism to be more efficient--to lose less energy as heat and capture more for fueling the body. And the net result is that it is harder to lose weight and keep it off,” she says. 
Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

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Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

We've been inundated lately with books and articles about childhood obesity. Most offer cultural critique or nutrition and exercise advice — in tones that are alternately appalled and patronizing....

Restrictive diets are a one-way ticket to failure honestly. And this comes from a lifelong "dieter". We are always looking for the quick fix and honestly, there isn't one. A fit looking body that has energy to burn is the result of a lifestyle. Fad diets do not promote lifestyle changes, but rather they act as band aides to cover the problem.

For every restrictive diet that we try, our metabolism takes a huge hit. This is due to the fact that most diets restrict either a macronutrient (Atkins, the Zone) or too many calories instead of promoting true nutrition. When we eat too little or forgo important macros, our body becomes catabolic, eating it's own muscle for fuel. You have to keep in mind that your body burns fuel at rest to promote activities such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestion (just to name the big ones). If we are starving ourselves, digestion takes a hit and we end up first not getting the nutrients we need from our food and in the end we end up with a whole host of digestive problems.

Have no fear though! Help is here and even a lifetime of dieting can be reversed. In my professional opinion, if you have dieted most of your life, it is of great benefit to seek some counseling that will help you face the issues that have arisen surrounding food.

Look at your food as fuel and find a workout that you enjoy. YES! You can totally start enjoying your workouts! You just have to dig around and find your soul mate :) Weight lifting/resistance training helps to increase the metabolism and combat those "diets" that we may have been dating for a while. Lean eating is a great way to relearn how to feed your body properly without feeling like you have to become a hermit. My lean eating class is held online several times per year and more info can be found at the link below.

To your health!

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

In order to lose weight, both a reduction in calories and an increase in physical activity need to occur. It is a matter of decreasing the energy consumed and increasing the energy burned. Any diet regimen that you follow should include a variety of foods as part of a balanced diet. All foods can fit into a balanced diet. “Dieting” certainly can work to help you lose weight. A good guideline for a healthy balanced diet is to follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
In a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, four common fad diets were compared: Atkins (low carbohydrate, high fat), Ornish (low fat), Weight Watchers (calorie restriction), and Zone (low glycemic foods). The more extreme the diet (Atkins and Ornish), the lower the success rate. People lost about four to five kilograms (ten pounds) with each diet. They all worked, but the longer the person was on the diet, the more calories were eaten. This "diet fatigue" results from deprivation. Cardiac risk was lower with all diets, corresponding directly to weight loss.

In fact, in a typical person, diet, weight loss, exercise, and medication result in a reduction of no more than 10% of body weight. Unfortunately, virtually all diets fail in the long run, with a gradual gain of whatever weight was lost.

A person who tries to diet loses weight. Diets that work identify the number of calories needed per day. Counting calories and weighing food are useful until a person has an accurate idea of what size the portions should be.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.