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10 Reasons Why Diets Fail

why diets fail

Only a very small percentage of people that start a diet will actually finish it and get the results they want. You can greatly increase your odds of being one of the successful people by simply understanding why diets fail, and then taking action to work around these problems. The following are my top 10 reasons why diets fail.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is one of the toughest obstacles when it comes to dieting. When you start a diet program, the people around you will either support you or tear you down. You have to ignore their negativity and focus on your true goal of being healthy. If they have a problem with the way you eat, then that’s their own problem, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You don’t have to explain your personal actions to anybody.

If you want to be fit, you need to surround yourself with fit people. The people that are closest to you are highly influential in the way you conduct your lifestyle. By surrounding yourself with fit people, they can be a source of inspiration and motivation instead of making you feel like the odd ball out. Just hang in there and remember that your decision to get healthy is the right one.

Not Eating Enough

I’ve talked about this countless times. When you don’t eat enough calories, it causes all kinds of negative feedback loops in the body. From hormone changes, to mood fluctuations, eating too few calories will only serve to work against you in your fat loss goals. Not eating enough food ranks up there at the very top of reasons for why diets fail.

If you’re not sure how much you should be eating, check out how many calories should I eat? This will help you make sure you are eating as many calories as possible that will still allow you to lose weight. By doing this, you keep your important muscle building and fat loss hormones high. Hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid will be optimized, and that will foster an environment that is conducive to not just weight loss, but fat loss.

Read more about why you might not be eating enough calories to lose weight.

You’re Dieting Instead of Changing Your Lifestyle

The successful people don’t diet, they undergo a lifestyle change. If you are one of those people that has a hard time dieting, what are you going to do when your diet is over? You need to lay out a plan that will forever change your lifestyle. By doing this, you increase your rate of success not just now, but well into the future. After all, what’s the point in losing 10 pounds if you are going to be lost again once you get there? Focus on building a “diet” that is sustainable and will be part of your life forever.

Here are 10 baby steps for changing your lifestyle forever.

Binge Eating

Who here binge eats? I’m guilty of that myself more often than I’d like to admit. It happens because processed food is addicting. Nothing will derail you from your diet faster than a good old binge session. You know what I’m talking about. You turn on a movie, order a pizza, some ice cream, and some snacks, and you just go to town. It tastes oh so great, but you probably just ate close to 3500 calories. That’s the equivalent of one pound. More than likely, that pound is going to be stored as fat. You just undid a great week of healthy eating. The way I see it, you have two options.

You can either:

  • (A) Binge eat – be happy now that you’re eating delicious food, but feel bad later after the guilt sets in.
  • (B) Eat a healthy snack instead – be sad now because you feel deprived, but feel happy about your good decision later.

Either way, you are going to be both happy and sad about your decision. But if you choose option (B), you’re going to look better tomorrow. So choose wisely!

Lack of Nutrients

Another reason why diets fail is because of a lack of nutrients. Let’s put aside the fact that they are vital for important body functions. Your body is going to get the nutrients it needs even if it has to force you to eat them. The brain sends your body “feed me” signals when it needs calories and nutrients. If you are undernourished, your brain is so powerful that it will keep telling you to eat until you get those vital nutrients. If you aren’t eating a nutrient dense diet, it will be very likely that you go over your necessary weight loss calories in order to get your vitamin quota. Eat foods that are nutrient dense and calorie sparse.

Here’s why you should change the quality of your food before you change the quantity.

Here are 100 nutrient dense foods to eat to make part of your diet.

Diet Foods Taste Bad

Yuck! I hate dieting because all the food tastes bad. I can understand why people would say that. When you go from eating pizza to eating fish and chicken, the transition for your taste buds can be a difficult one. A little patience can go a long way though. After a transitional period, your taste buds will adapt, and believe it or not, you might just find yourself craving some of the diet foods that you once despised. Regardless, diet foods don’t have to be boring. With a little imagination, any food dish can be made into something great.

I have hundreds of healthy meal and snack ideas here on my Pinterest page.

Slow Weight Loss

Ugh! The scale is moving sooooooo slow. Or hey, maybe it isn’t even moving at all. If you’re working out and eating right, I want you to focus on your body composition. Let’s not forget that the weight you put on was probably added over a lifetime. You can’t expect to just drop it all in a matter of weeks. Losing weight is easy, but losing fat takes some planning and time. Focus on losing .5-1% body fat per week, and you’ll be happier in the long run. Plus, it will be more sustainable over time.

Take this for example:

A 180 pound person at 20% body fat loses .5% of body fat per week for 12 weeks. He just went from 20% body fat to 14%. How can you complain about that! And that’s based on the assumption that he didn’t put on any muscle. If he did, his body would have made an even more dramatic transformation.

Read more about the difference between weight loss and fat loss.

Can’t Control Cravings

Controlling cravings is one of the hardest parts of dieting, and one of the top reasons why diets fail. Once you feel deprived, it just makes you want something that much more. If you can distinguish between the psychological cravings and the physical ones, you’ll be better armed to make a good decision. Once you start understanding your own body’s behavior, you can start to better control it.

Here are 10 ways to break your carb addiction.

Lack of Exercise

Are you trying to diet without exercising? If you are, you might want to reconsider. While your diet plays one of the largest roles in weight loss, the synergy that is created when you combine diet, exercise, and recovery will help keep your fat loss moving forward.

Exercise plays a vital role in creating an optimal hormonal environment for weight loss. Exercise helps you build muscles, and optimizes important fat loss hormones. Testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid, are all increased under the stimulation of exercise. Make sure you are incorporating exercise into your fitness program. It’s incomplete without it, and will just make it that much harder to diet.

Here are 50 tips for how to build muscle the right way.

You Don’t Track Progress

Not tracking your progress – probably the number one cause of discouragement. How can you tell if you’re progressing if you aren’t measuring your progress? I’m not talking about using a scale either. The scale is worthless. You need to be measuring your body fat. Make sure you are keeping a journal. Write down all the food you eat. Take pictures of yourself every once in a while, and buy yourself a set of body fat calipers. Your mind can play big tricks on you, and you can get discouraged from continuing your diet just as you are starting to make progress. Don’t be a victim of scale mentality. Be sure you are tracking your progress.

Here’s a cheap pair of body fat calipers I’d recommend for measuring body fat percentage.

So there you have it – my top 10 reasons why diets fail. I have personally experienced every single one of these, and I’m sharing my thoughts with you so you can learn from my mistakes. What about you? Do you have a tip that has helped you stay on the healthy lifestyle track? We would love to hear it.

  • Tom Parker

    Totally agree with the point on changing your lifestyle. If you are overweight then there is no quick fix. You need to change the way you eat and exercise regularly on a permanent basis. Going on a diet is very short term thinking and as soon as you return to your old habits, the old weight will return.

  • Coach Calorie

    Well said Tom. There is not quick fix to being overweight. It took you quite a while to put on that weight, it’s going to take a while to get it off. A bad lifestyle made you overweight, only a good lifestyle change will help you lose it.

  • Regina

    I have to admit that I don’t eat enough during the day and then overeat at dinner because I am so hungry…I have to stop doing that !!
    tarter95 at hotmail dot com

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Regina, you might want to try eating at predetermined meal times. I find that it helps control hunger.

  • ria clarke

    I think that also some people need a support system to keep them motivated and without that they tend to give up if they don’t see results right away. It’s good to join a group sometimes.

    • Coach Calorie

      You’re right. A support group is great for motivation. Thanks for the comment.

  • julie

    I find that if my friends are on a diet then its easier for me to follow along but on weekends when i go out its the worst. I want to be able to have a few drinks but I hate the empty calories. what do you suggest?

    • Coach Calorie

      If you’re set on drinking, which even I do at times, you could go for the vodka/soda with a splash of lime. Try to stay away from the high sugar mixers and stick with liquor and club soda. Try to make it last! Drink, don’t get drunk.

  • kim c

    Wow! Almost everyone of these applies to me! Hopefully now that I’m aware of it I can avoid some of the pitfalls.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Kim, glad the article hit close to home ;)

      Knowing will definitely help prevent it from happening in the future. Good luck!

  • Deb Dorrington

    My problem is eating in the evenings..I seem to do alright during the day but then around 9 p.m. I’m looking for something salty to eat. This happens 5 nights out of 7 I swear. So what do I do, I go after the chips or the popcorn and of course I never can stop at a few chips. I know that dieting really does not work but still I keep trying a new one every 6 months.

    • Coach Calorie

      That’s a common problem, and one I believe is strongly rooted in habit. If that’s part of your everyday routine, it’s only going to feel natural to want to eat bad food come night time.

  • Donna B.

    Not paying attention to what I’m putting in my mouth (or how much I’m putting in my mouth) is my biggest pitfall.

    PS – do you have any control over the ad content on your site? I was a little dismayed to see an ad for “free soda coupons – the largest coupon collection on the web” on your sidebar. Seems counter-productive given the content of your blog.

    • Coach Calorie

      I do have control, but it’s difficult to catch all the ads. Google ads are both contextual and interest based. The contextual ads are based off the content of my site. I can control that for the most part, but the interest based ads are based on the user’s search history. Since I have tens of thousands of visitors every month, it’s nearly impossible to know what ad is going to show to them. That soda ad was more than likely only shown to you.

      • Donna B.

        Ahhh OK, I didn’t know how it worked. It was just such a contradiction to your site. Plus I’m definitely the wrong target audience, since I cut out sodas over a year ago :)

  • Donna B.

    “You’re Dieting Instead of Changing Your Lifestyle” – I can’t agree with this one enough. For me, the term “diet” carries the connotation that it’s something temporary, it’s really a lifestyle change. I also think that thinking in terms of a “diet” is also why people binge, don’t eat enough and don’t get proper nutrients. I think of some of the crazy diets I’ve tried in the past and I cringe.

    Too bad I didn’t figure this out when I was in my 20’s, I could have lost the weight a loooong time ago!!

  • Jane

    All these 11 reasons are the real truth behind the failure of healthy diet. In-spite of knowing all these I still can’t say no to junk foods.

  • Laura

    what helps you stay motivated when you really want to throw in the towel and eat ice cream and pizza?

  • Coach Calorie

    Think back to why you wanted to change your lifestyle in the first place, and then reflect on why you’re considering throwing in the towel. You have to find the answer for yourself, but those two questions will help you connect the dots.

    • Deanna Schober

      If I may add to this, I usually try and picture how I am going to feel the next day. Will I be miserable that I did it, or can I live with it? Sometimes it’s worth it, most of the time it’s not. Also, giving myself something healthy that I also enjoy, like apples and peanut butter, also works 99% of the time.