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Diets fail and the reason they fail is because they use a model that has been proven by research not too work. And this is confusing because the approach seems to work in the short run, which is why it is so alluring.
Someone starts eating less and exercising more and they start seeing some changes. And at first these changes are positive. The problem is these positive changes quickly result in compensation reactions by the body.
Some people think the metabolism works like a calculator. Others say it works like a chemistry lab. Both these ways of looking at the metabolism are wrong. The truth is it works more like a thermostat.
The body has feedback mechanisms it uses to make sure its fuel reserves stay in check. So when you push against the metabolism, it pushes back and compensates. It does this by causing changes designed to make you eat more and exercise less. You get hungry, your energy crashes, your cravings became continual, your mood changes, you feel more depressed and less motivated and your metabolic rate declines. Your hormonal system reacts by lowering leptin which then causes thyroid suppression and adrenal slow down. All this is designed to save you from starvation.
This is undisputed in research on weight loss. in fact it is the most agreed upon phenomenon there is in weight loss. It is called adaptive thermogenesis. For more on this exact mechanism see this blog.
This metabolic compensation has been shown to be very individual and can result in changes in resting energy expenditure of a few hundred calories per day to up to 500 to 800 depending on the individual.
Imagine someone that has been measured to have a resting metabolic rate of 2000Kcal per day. Imagine taking the standard approach of reducing their calories by 500 kcal’s per day. They go along for a few days or weeks and all seems fine. Then the compensation kicks in. Lets say they are one of these high responders. And let’s say their body compensates a lot, say by 500 to 800kcals per day. Now, not only will they stop losing weight, they may even start gaining it!!
A solution that works in the short run that does not work in the long run is not a solution that works. especially if it makes things worse.
There are two things required for weight loss, a calorie deficit and hormonal balance. the eat less exercise more model fails because it gets you the calorie deficit, but causes worsening of metabolic balance.
Ways to counteract this are many, but the three best ways in particular are 1) make sure you hold on to your muscle mass 2) cycle the diet (because a period of eating more can raise metabolic rate) and 3) find a way to control persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Both their intake and their removal are becoming one of the biggest hidden sources of severe adaptive thermogensis and the entire weight loss industry is saying nothing about this. Again, for the science on this read the blog link above.
In response to metabolic compensation, instead of wising up, people double down on the eat less exercise more model. They think, “if it worked for a time in the beginning, maybe I just need to work harder” At this point, they double their efforts.
Again, the body may respond at first with a bit of weight loss, but then it quickly pushes back even harder than it did the first time. And the negative cycle ensues. This is what we mean by the diet trap and why 95% of those who go on diets regain the weight and why 66% end up fatter.