Diets Don’t Work

Diets simply don’t work, at least not in the long-term, for most people.

Spend a little time on the internet, and you’ll find lots of people claiming they’ve found “The one true diet”, with which you’ll achieve a great body, cure all known diseases, improve your athletic performance, etc, etc, all backed up with pages and pages of glowing testimonials.

Low fat, low carb, paleo, vegan, raw, fasting, cabbage soup – you’ll find ardent supporters for every one of these diets claiming it cured their arthritis, gave them more energy, melted away their body fat, got them a promotion at work…

Search a bit more, however, and you’ll also find plenty of people saying the same diet caused them to crash and burn, worsened symptoms of illness, caused them to gain weight and ultimately resulted in them sleeping on the streets (possibly).

This is the problem with anecdotal evidence. People make a change in their diet, then see a change in their health, and come to the conclusion that diet X results in change Y.

This is bad science.

In reality, you have no way of knowing whether:

  1. The change is a coincidence
  2. The change could have also been brought about by any other change in diet
  3. A different diet may have produced better results
  4. The same diet will have the same effect in different people
  5. Whether the diet will have any negative long term effects

It is for all of the reasons above, that we need to look to science for guidance when it comes to choosing how and what to eat.

What Science Says About Diet

Human diet and nutrition is a difficult topic to study (read about why this is here), there are however, a few things that we can confidently say:

  1. All popular diets (low fat, low carb, paleo, vegan, calorie controled) usually produce similar amounts of weightloss in the short term for most people, though these results vary widely from person to person, and aren’t usually very impressive
  2. Regardless of which diet someone follows, most people end up regaining some or all of the weight initially lost within a couple of years

Not very positive news. Does this therefore mean that if you are overweight, there’s nothing you can do about it?

Resistance is futile?

Thankfully no. Diets usually fail because they are based on bad sicence and faulty reasoning, and/or they don’t take into account human psychology.

Armed with the facts, and the right mental attitude, you can achieve optimum health, physique and performance without following the latest fad diet or relying on huge amounts of willpower, simply by learning to eat mindfully.

Step 1 is to fundamentally change the way that you think about food – To get started, check out my series of articles “What is Food?” starting with part I – There is no such thing as food!