At any given time, more than a third of Americans are on a specific diet, with weight loss as a leading reason. Most are going to be disappointed, because even when successful, lost weight is frequently regained within a few months.
While most weight-loss diets can help you lose weight, they may be unsuccessful over the long run for a number of reasons. Some people don’t follow their diets carefully and don’t lose much weight even from the start. Others may go off the diet entirely after a while, because it’s too restrictive or the foods aren’t appealing. Some may engage in less physical activity as they consume fewer calories. But who hasn’t heard of someone doing everything right and still losing minimal weight, or regaining lost weight over time? Perhaps that someone is you.
Even when research studies confine study subjects to a research setting — with carefully-controlled calories, food types, and physical activity, and with intensive counselling, teaching, and monitoring — the lost weight and other health benefits (such as improved cholesterol and reduced blood pressure) tend to disappear soon after the study ends.
You can’t pick the right diet if none of them work
According to a new study, popular diets simply don’t work for the vast majority of people. Or more accurately, they are modestly effective for a while, but after a year or so the benefits are largely gone.
In a large systematic review and meta-analysis, recently published in the medical journal The BMJ, researchers analyzed 121 trials that enrolled nearly 22,000 overweight or obese adults who followed one of 14 popular diets, including the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, DASH, and the Mediterranean diet, for an average of six months. The diets were grouped into one of three categories: low-carbohydrate, low-fat, and moderate-macronutrient (diets in this group were similar to those in the low-fat group, but with slightly more fat and slightly less carbohydrate). Loss of excess weight and cardiovascular measures (including cholesterol and blood pressure) while on one of these diets were compared with other diets or usual diets (one in which the person continued to eat as they usually do).
While weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol measures generally improved at the six-month mark, results at the 12-month mark were disappointing, to say the least.
- While low-carbohydrate and low-f