Top 5: Reasons Why Diets Fail

You have probably spent money and/or tried one of the many diets available. Be honest…! We all have. Whether it’s the Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, a “Plant Based” diet, the Paleo Diet, the Blood Type Diet, the Metabolic Diet or any other of the many diets (fads) that have flashed across the magazine rack in January. Or been on TV because of some “miracle result” (followed – in the past – by the ever present “results not typical” disclaimer).

Most of them deliver short-term results.

Sometimes, for some people, those results can even be impressive.

For a while…

Then, for some reason, the weight you lost almost inevitably creeps back on.

And in many cases, you wind up gaining more back than what you lost in the first place.

Wait, What?!?

There can be a number of reasons, but before we dive into some of the specifics, realize one key fact:

If this happened to you, you are not alone. And the statistics are certainly stacked against you, either way;

Only about 40% of the people who start a diet will complete it.

Between 80 – 95% of people who experience significant weight loss fail to maintain it past 2 years

So, only about 60% the people who go on a diet will actually complete the program, and out of those 60%, at most 17% are at the same weight as they were when they ended the program. For you non-mathematicians out there, that means there’s less than a 10% chance you will be able to sustain any weight loss from a diet plan.

The higher the weight loss is, the lower that probability becomes.

Typically, the average dieter will not only regain the weight they lost, but actually add more weight to their bodies afterwards…

And about here, you may well be thinking; “Well, what’s the point?”

There is no point in going on a diet.


  • You’re a glutton for punishment
  • You enjoy starving and depriving yourself for weeks on end.
  • Eating cabbage soup is your idea of a great culinary experience
  • The “cleansing headache” is fun
  • You have a burning desire to eat broccoli and grilled chicken breast
  • You love measuring your food on a scale
  • You have a big purse, and the food scale doesn’t take up that much space

And lastly, just thinking of doing all of the above – every meal, every day – for the rest of your life gives you goose-bumps of excitement

That ain’t your idea of “a good time”?

Didn’t think so…

Top 5 reasons diets fail

1. It doesn’t prepare you for life after the diet

No matter how old you are right now, the chances you’re going to continue eating whatever way the diet prescribed, for the rest of your life are probably somewhere between slim and none.

Pick any fat loss contest out there. Be it The Biggest Loser™ types of contests, or any other version of a fat loss / weight loss contest. While you’re in the throes of the contest, you’re probably doing pretty well. (We will ignore the studies that show only about 30% of people who start on a fat loss program will complete it…). You’re going to regular meetings (follow-up visits/calls/emails/etc). Then, the 30 days are up and the winner is announced.

Maybe you’re one of the winners?

Congratulations! Well done!

I bet you’re happy as a clam with the results and probably even gave a testimonial.

Then what happens…?


More likely than not, you go back to your old way of eating. It’s an “established fact” that for people to change a habit, they need as much as 12 weeks of doing the new “habit”.

And I can speak from experience when I tell you that it takes a whole lot less than that to revert to the old habits!

Maybe you ate like a champ for 30 days. Perhaps even 90 days? (Well done by the contest designer!)

But when you’re back to being on your own again? What happens when the meal plan runs out?

You go back to your old habits.

And so does your waistline…

2. The meal plan is too restrictive

Almost anybody in the healthy fitness industry could come up with a dietary plan to help you lose weight, and you would probably lose weight quickly – In essence the meal plan will consist of the following for each meal: lean protein and vegetables. No grain).

Here’s the rub with “the meal plan”; It demands compliance, at least 80-90% of the time. There are probably regular follow-ups, the whole program lasts for a certain number of days or weeks. Then it ends. The really disciplined amongst you will probably recycle the meal plan once, twice or more. Without the follow-ups, obviously.

But I can almost guarantee within 6 months of receiving your meal plan, none of you will be eating exactly as the meal plan prescribed.

And with that, you’re back in the cycle.

The weight you lost? It creeps back on. One pound at a time. Inevitably. Until you’ve joined your fellow 83-95 percenters.

3. You’re too focused on short-term gain

You’re on whatever diets to help you lose weight, fast. Get results. Now!

But the thing is, the benefits you receive from the change you sought (fat loss) isn’t a short-term benefit. The results of losing fat and getting healthy is something that will – probably – be with you for decades.

So if you go on a crash-course in dieting, lose lots of weight in 30 days, but one year later – when it’s all back, and brought a few friends along for good measure, what was the real value of the – pick any – diets?

You “spent 30 days in hell”, “suffered for the results”. You “pushed through”.

For what?

You have to be able to maintain the weight loss for years to come – quite probably for decades – so why would a program that is over, finished, in 30 days or less be a real solution?

It may be what you want, but it’s probably not what you (and your body) needs.

4. You didn’t actually learn anything

No, I know. That’s not why you started any of these diets! To learn something?!?

You didn’t join Weight Watchers to learn how to eat well and live a healthy life. You joined to lose weight. To get rid of fat.

And they’ve got a really simple system.

Foods are assigned points and you get a certain quota. In the past, the system was – truthfully – really bad, since the essence was that a point was a point. Just stay under your quota and you’ll be all set. Since then the program has evolved, and now they do promote better foods (i.e. better-for-you-foods have more appropriate point values as compared to the not-good-for-you-foods). But depending on the program, you’re still not  encouraged to learn much, if anything, about why that is.

But “Why” is probably the most important word in your life and change. If you understand the “why”, you have a much better opportunity to actually comprehend. And comprehension is the foundation for change.

If you would like to understand why you eat the way you do, sign up for the Bit Better Coaching pre-sale list.

5. “You’re not motivated enough”

There’s a belief that “anybody can be incentivised to change”.

I call Bravo Sierra! (at least if we’re talking permanent change).

In my world, there are fundamentally only two things that motivate people to make long-term changes.  Which honestly boils down to “there can be only one” incentive, fear:

  • You have a reward/carrot big enough to make the pain of change worth it (Fear of not getting the reward)
  • Something happened to make you too scared to NOT change. (flat out: Fear)

But the truth is that fear is a lousy reason to lose weight.

If fear is the driving force to go on a diet, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. Maybe it’s the upcoming bikini season, the recognition that if they don’t lose weight, they may live a shorter life, the latest study showing that overweight people experience more health problems and they’ve felt the first twinges of chronic health deterioration.

Knowledge bomb; Cancer patients skip taking life-saving cancer pills

So if people with cancer skip taking something as simple as a pill that can – literally – save their life, how can your fear of getting fat measure up?

It probably can’t…

Thing is, fear isn’t a lasting feeling.

Most of us “get used to it”, eventually. And “Wh00mp! There it is“; the reason for “eating well and exercising” has just left the building. (Get ready to welcome those pounds back! Again…).

I give up!

Having spent 8 years being 55 pounds lighter than when I started this journey, please realize that my point isn’t to discourage you from trying to lose weight.

Far from it.

Fat loss is something most of us could reap significant benefits from. Both short-term and long-term.

My point is this: Getting lean and healthy is a journey. It is not a quick, short-term project that you can start and end. It’s an ongoing choice to change.

Diets are all “short-term projects”, and there is ample data out there to show that those short-term diets simply do not work when it comes to creating a sustained body-composition change. “Motivation” has nothing to do with it.

You have to:

Changing your nutrition.

Change your activities.

Change your mindset.

Truth is, change is uncomfortable. Sustained change is even more so since it lasts longer (for the rest of your life, ideally). But that is what you’re facing when we talk about sustained weight loss/body composition change; Changing “everything”.

Can we all agree that a month long diet is a lousy tool to help you achieve that level of sustained change…?

Time to try something different!

If you’re a woman, click here.

If you’re a man, well then click here.

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