Ban gluten. Say good-bye to sugar. Give up carbs.
No matter what diet you pick, the problem remains the same: Eventually, it ends.
Research shows that the vast majority of people who diet to lose weight end up gaining back some or all of the weight they lost, typically within a few years. And most of us who try lifestyle changes like cutting carbs or sugar only do so for a set period of time.
We recently asked exercise scientist Philip Stanforth, executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas and a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas, why that happens, and what people who want to lose weight and keep it off can do.
He says there is one key principle that should guide any decision to make a change about what you eat. And that's "doing something you can maintain for the rest of your life."
After the initial "dieting phase” of cutting calories, eating healthier food, and upping your workout regimen — experts recommend aiming to lose only a couple pounds a week by burning a few hundred more calories than you're eating each day — you can start to make some small shifts back towards how you’d normally eat and workout, says Stanforth.
But overall, Stanforth says, "you still eat the same way [as you did when you started to eat healthier]."
Meaning that after you've lost a bit of weight, it's normal to scale back a bit on your workouts and start to eat more calories each day. "But you still eat the same kinds of foods," says Stanforth, because you're in the mindset that, "this is how I’m going to eat for the rest of my life."
Unfortunately, the vast majority of dieting information doesn't reflect this view.
And that's a mistake, Stanforth says.
"You know we tend to say you go on a diet, but that also implies you’re going to go off of it. And that’s not how we should be looking at this. Sometimes people are looking for the latest fad, but oftentimes it’s the fundamentals that are the most important and that make the biggest difference."
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