25 Reasons Why Dieting Does Not Work

by Rakib Sarwar, RPh
Published on June 5, 2019
a frustrated woman

With so many people struggling with overweight issues, weight loss diets have continued to increase in popularity. This explains why many acclaimed weight loss diet plans keep flooding the market with no decline in sight. One very disturbing fact about the proliferation of diet plans and supplements claimed to help people lose weight is the fact that most of these claims are unsubstantiated.

More worrisome, however, is the fact that some of these diet plans not only fail to help you lose weight but have the potentials of affecting your health and bringing on many health complications in their wake.

In this post, we will look at the major reasons why weight loss diet plans don’t work, what you can do when your weight loss diet plan fails and how to find a diet plan that will work for your weight loss and overall health.

Why do weight loss diet plans fail?

There are several reasons why weight loss diet plans fail. However, these reasons can vary from individual to individual due to issues such as health history, environment, lifestyles, habits and individual differences. Let’s see 25 major reasons why different weight loss diet plans do not work and what you can do when your weight loss diet plan fails.

1. Diet plans offer temporary solutions

One important fact to note about weight loss diet plans is the fact that their effectiveness will always be short-lived when they work. There is no doubt that some weight loss diet plans work, but when they do, their effects cannot last for long as people are bound to change diets once they come back to shape or make some lifestyle changes that can see them gaining more weights after a short time. On average, people who lose weight through weight loss diet plans often regain such weights within 1-5 years (4).

How to get around this?

The best way to ensure you maintain your healthy weight following the success of a weight loss diet plan is to make sure you stick to the diet plan and lifestyle changes that helped you lose the weight. While this may sound a bit hard, it is actually the right thing to do provided your weight loss diet plan does not deprive you of important nutrients your body need to stay healthy. This will no doubt require many self-discipline, but when you weigh the benefits, you will agree it is worth the stress, sacrifices, and efforts.

2. Some diet plans lack essential nutrients

Most of the diet plans being peddled all around the internet today have been found to contain little or no essential nutrients your body needs to sustain important life functions (4). The risk this poses is that you are forced to go back to the foods you left out while on your diet plan to help your body recover all lost vital nutrients and in the long run, this will lead to a new phase of weight gain.

How to get around this?

The best way to ensure your diet plan supplies your body with essential nutrient is to plan that weight loss diet around healthy foods that ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs even as they help you burn excess fat and keep excess calories out. A diet plan around fruits, veggies, and plant-based sources of protein is a good way to stay healthy while you lose weight.

3. Most diet plans are over-restrictive

Once you are on an over-restrictive diet plan, you lose all the joy that comes with eating, and this will make you lose interest in the diet plan and try to eat more of the things you derive joy from even if they make you fat (4).

How to get around this?

There are very creative ways of planning your diet plans around the things you enjoy eating without getting fat. The important thing is to eat foods that have the potential to make you fat in moderation if you cannot get rid of them out rightly.

For instance, if you are a fan of a particular fruit juice that falls into the category of junks, you can resort to sipping the natural juice from your favorite fruit whenever the craving for that artificial fruit juice hits you.

4. So many fake weight loss diet pills and supplements in circulation

Many unscrupulous internet users now resort to taking advantage of unsuspecting obese or overweight people to sell fake diet pills, supplements and plans to them (8). Such pills and supplements end up not working and can lead to very serious health problems eventually.

How to get around this?

Before you choose to make any weight pill or supplement a part of your weight loss diet plan, make sure you speak with your doctor to know if the product is safe. You can also check the reviews from other users to know how effective the product can be.

5. Family history

If you come from a lineage where obesity has always been part of the family, your weight loss diet may not be enough to help you lose weight (8). This is so because what you eat plays little role in making you overweight if you have a case of inherited obesity in your bloodline.

How to get around this?

The fact that everyone in your family is fat does not mean you should give up trying to lose weight. However, it will require more than dieting. A number of lifestyle changes will help.

6. The all or nothing nature of diet plans

Dieting and diet plans depend on some rules, and those rules depend on several external constructs designed to guide your eating plans: a list of what to eat and what not to eat, a meal plan, a point system, etc. So, when you are on any diet plan, you are expected to adhere to all the rules of that plan for that diet plan to work for you (2). And the fact that keeping to all the rules may not always be possible is one reason why most diet plans fail.

How to get around this?

Though it may be difficult, you have to do all you can to make sure the plan you choose works for you. This will be easy if you make a list of all the benefits of losing weight and staying fit.

7. Some diet plans were designed to fail

People keep blaming individuals when diet plans fail without blaming the system. A diet plan that does not teach you anything about healthy living will definitely fail when the stress of the diet plan begins to take its toll on your health. Also, any diet plan that does not supply your body with all the needed nutrients will certainly fail (8).

How to get around this?

Before you choose any diet plan, make sure you check out some old users review to know how it worked for others, the difficulties they encountered while on it and what to expect.

8. Uncontrollable hunger pangs

There are several natural reasons why your diet plans for weight loss fail. And one of these reasons is the natural tendency to feel uncontrollable hunger pangs.

Most times you will steer off your weight loss diet when hunger pangs hit without warning, especially when you are out of the house. The more you pick up foods that are outside your weight loss diet plan to quench your hunger, the more difficult it becomes for you to lose weight (8).

How to get around this?

The best thing to do to keep these hunger pangs away is to pick up foods that have high fiber content and build your weight loss meals around protein. Taking more fiber foods and protein will help you feel fuller, keep your body supplied with essential nutrients, and help you lose weight.

9. Boredom

If you don’t find creative ways to keep your mind occupied while you are on a weight loss diet plan, you will always fall into mindless eating. Mindless eating due to boredom can happen even when the urge for food is not there (8).

How to get around this?

Make sure you do not have access to foods that make you fat when at home. You can also find a way to distract yourself from food temptations such as going for a walk, calling up a friend and engaging them in a conversation, engaging in any physical exercise, etc.

10. Low-fat pitfalls

High-fat content foods are known to be loaded with many calories. However low-fat options come loaded with sugar. If you eat loads of high-fat foods, your weight loss program is most likely fail. However, choosing the less satisfying low-fat foods will make you eat more in the process and end up consuming more calories (5).

How to get around this?

If you can discipline yourself to be satisfied with a little portion of high-fat food, go with that option. If you won’t be able to resist the temptation to overeat the high-fat food, you can choose the low-fat options with lower calories.

11. Eating too often

No matter how low the calorie content a meal is, the more often you eat, the more calories you load into your body. Most diet plans may not be clear on how often you should eat during the day, which explains why you might find yourself eating and snacking all through the day to satisfy your food cravings (4).

How to get around this?

Instead of eating about 3 heavy meals during the day and snacking in-between meals, you can try to eat 4-5 times. Divide the heavy meals into smaller, calorie-controlled portions to help you stay fuller at different times of the day and avoid snacking on foods that can make you fat.

12. High-stress levels

Stress is one common reason why a number of weight loss diets fail to produce the desired results. This is because when you are stressed, you tend to eat more to give yourself some feeling of comfort and enjoyment. Such emotional eating derails your diet and makes the calories add up (4).

How to get around this?

Consider healthier alternatives to beating stress such as yoga, workouts, mindful meditations, find a support group, reach out to someone who understands or talk to an expert for professional help.

13. Fatigue

We all experience those fatigues after a very hectic day. And one natural thing to do when you want to beat fatigue is to drag yourself to the kitchen and snack on any available food. Sadly, such fatigue-induced eating is one easy way to turn to the fatty foods that reduce the effectiveness of your weight loss diets (4).

How to get around this?

Before you grab any afternoon snack, take some time to ask yourself whether you are responding to fatigue or hunger. Once you link the food craving to fatigue, take a quick nap instead of grabbing any unhealthy food.

14. Irregular portion sizes

One common reason why diet plans fail to help you lose weight is probably that you measure different portion sizes at different mealtimes (4). If your chosen diet plan is not working, you can ensure you eat the same portion size every mealtime.

How to get around this?

You can get a small electronic scale to ensure each food portion weighs the same as all others before and after it. With this, you won’t eat more than a single serving of bread, popcorn, or cereals.

15. Wrong food choices

There is something called the health halo effect among dieters, and a good number of dieters fall victim to this. The health halo effect is simply about consuming many calories from foods you mistake for healthy options (6). For instance, avocados are known to contain healthy fats, but that does not rule out the fact that the same avocados contain many calories.

How to get around this?

Moderation is key. No matter how healthy any food is, it will make you gain more weight when you consume them in excess.

16. Difficult workout plans

Losing weight is not all about skipping fatty foods. You need a good exercise regimen to complement your diet plans. If you choose a workout plan that is so hard that you spend your whole day trying to get it right or incur an injury in the process, your weight loss diet may end up not helping you lose weight as it should (8).

How to get around this?

Choose a good weight loss exercise regimen that is easy to do and not harmful to your weight loss program in any way.

17. Inactive lifestyle

When you live an active life, you burn fats all through the day. As a matter of fact, non-exercise activities is believed to burn as much as 2000 calories every day (2). So, being on a weight loss diet plan won’t make you lose weight if you spend most of your day slouched in the couch watching one TV sitcom after another.

How to get around this?

There are several ways you can get creative to add more activity into your life. For instance, instead of taking the elevator, you can take the stairs, park your car a few houses away and walk to the grocery shop, when you are done doing your groceries, carry them to the car yourself, do your laundry yourself, dance to your favorite song while you clean up the house and all other physical activities that will help you stay on the move and burn fat all through the day. All these will add up to help your weight loss diet plans work and provide you with a more satisfying result.

18. Unhealthy sleep habits

If you do not get adequate sleep at night or get very little sleep, you may not be able to lose weight even with the best weight loss diet. You need to give your body all the rest it needs after a strenuous day to support healthy body metabolism (4).

How to get around this?

You must have heard about the 8-9 hours sleep schedule recommended for adults by experts. Do not exceed this duration for any reason if you do not wish to see the fat building up. Also, make sure you eliminate anything that makes you unable to enjoy a peaceful night rest such as late-night activities, the sound of your phone ringing, leaving the TV on, etc.

19. Health factors

Some natural factors can affect your body’s ability to burn calories. Some of these factors include age, genetics, diseases, etc (1). One disease that can affect your daily caloric usage is thyroid disease.

How to get around this?

The best thing to do to help you know what factors might possibly be affecting your caloric expenditure is to schedule a visit to your doctor and talk about these things at length. Chances are that there are things you can do to regulate your body’s metabolism and caloric usage.

20. Muscle mass

Muscles are widely known to burn calories, but when your muscle mass is inadequate, your muscles won’t be able to burn as many calories as they should. And your muscle’s inability to burn calories will result in very minimal weight loss from your diet plan (1).

How to get around this?

To ensure your muscles burn adequate calories all through the day, make sure you build up your lean muscle mass. You can take more protein-rich foods and do more strength training at the gym or at home to increase your lean muscle mass and burn more calories to aid your weight loss diet.

21. Giving up too fast

Most people fail to lose weight with their weight loss diet plans because they give up way too fast when things don’t turn out the way they expected. Even the best and most effective diet plan will fail if you do not wait long enough for it to work (1).

How to get around this?

Don’t set unrealistic goals. Setting unrealistic goals like trying to change your eating habits overnight can make you feel frustrated when you find out it does not work that way and make you give up easily.

22. Skipping meals

One would have thought skipping a meal is good for weight loss, but this is not the case. When you skip meals, you will be famished and end up binge eating and consuming many calories (2, 4).

How to get around this?

Instead of skipping meals, eat foods that make you feel full faster and keep you feeling full for longer. Foods that contain healthy fats, fiber and protein are the most ideal weight loss foods to include in your diet plan.

23. Crash dieting

Moving from one weight loss diet to another while trying to lose weight fast won’t do you any good. You may lose the weight fast, but the fact that you started out without any set goal in sight means you will go back to the old eating habits that make you fat and regain weight faster than you lost them. Also, crash dieting denies your body glucose which is not good for your health (4).

How to get around this?

Build your diet plans around diets that may help ensure your body gets all needed nutrients to stay healthy. It is good to ensure you get adequate protein supplies every morning and eat at least 2 hours before bedtime (4).

24. Going for cheap diet plans

Some good diet plans that help you lose weight while you maintain an adequate supply of essential nutrients to your body can come with a high price tag. This is why some people end up settling for cheaper plans that may be both unhealthy and unhelpful for their weight loss goals (8).

How to get around this?

You can get healthy diet plans for less if you know when and where to shop. Check the local papers and local grocery shops for healthy foods like carrots, bananas, apples, beans, canned tuna, etc, that sell below $1 per serving.

25. Focusing too much on calories

Counting the calorie content of what you eat is one easy way to lose sight of the number of nutrients such diets contain. You should focus more on consuming the right foods with the nutrients your body needs to function adequately. Not eating enough calories may help you lose lean body weight, not body fat. Body weight and body fat are two different things altogether. When you lose body weight/muscle mass, your body metabolism slows down which makes it hard for your body to burn fat (4, 8).

How to get around this?

Focus more on the content of the food than on the number of calories. This may help ensure you have enough energy to work out, avoid binge eating and supply your body with the right nutrients.

How to choose the right diet plan that will work for your weight?

With the advent of the internet, it is hard to find information that is 100% accurate and to know which one you should go for. With so many literature and articles contradicting themselves, always streamline your search to results of studies and publications on authority blogs.

1. Choose an all-inclusive plan that teaches you how to live healthily

Losing weight and maintaining your new weight is one very complex issue that requires you to pay attention to all important details. A good diet plan should take all vital factors such as genetics, body type, exercise, age, family history, sensitivity, etc into consideration. Run from any diet plan that promises you a weight loss miracle with a single diet or lifestyle change (8).

2. Choose a diet that promises an adequate supply of essential nutrients

The aim of every good weight loss diet should be to help you feel fuller with fewer foods, and one way to achieve this is through a diet rich in fiber, protein and low fat (8).

3. Choose sustainable diet plans

It is not enough to lose weight with a diet, sustaining the new weight is of utmost importance. Before you choose a weight loss diet, make sure it is something you can work with for a long time. Thus, a good diet plan should help you lose weight, stay healthy, stay fit and enjoy your life (8).


(1) http://time.com/magazine/us/4793878/june-5th-2017-vol-189-no-21-u-s/
(2) https://www.michigan.gov/healthymichigan/0,4675,7-216-33084_33092_33097—,00.html
(3) https://www.evolutionnutrition.com/sites/default/files/Client_Files/12Week_Weight_Loss_Challenge_Client.pdf
(4) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324062985_The_Psychology_of_Dieting
(5) https://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/_pdf/hetm-2016/0116-weightmanagement.pdf
(6) https://pmj.bmj.com/content/93/1100/360
(7) https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/matte/pdf/031210-healthy-weight.pdf
(8) https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2204/0777/files/Diet_Plan_2017.pdf

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