Why over restrictive diets don’t work

Now, you might think that eating chocolate whilst on a diet is a nutritional no no. I mean, the calories, the fat, the sugar…surely weight loss and this amount of food pleasure can’t go hand in hand whilst you're dieting? 

And you’d probably be surprised at just how many people fall into this restrictive mindset. Years of fad diets and multiple attempts at losing weight have led to many people thinking that they need to cut out their favourite foods when trying to lose body fat. 


But, there is another way that puts all foods back on the table…so stick with me over the next few minutes as I explain some of the principles of fat loss that gives you food freedom and puts the control of your diet back in your hands.

The key to a successful diet


So, the key to any successful diet is energy balance. The relationship between how many calories you consume and burn. Now you may hear theories to the contrary…some people rave about the benefits of low carb dieting, claiming that fat loss is driven by carbohydrate reduction not calories. 


Now, these arguments do sound convincing and there’s often research used to back up those ideas. But the reality is that these diets, or any diet for that matter, work because of their influence on energy balance. 


Think about this for a second….you decide to do a low carb diet. So you cut cake, cookies, pizza, bread, pasta, potatoes, chocolate and many other common foods from your diet. Now these foods aren’t inherently bad for you, but they are typically calorie dense and easy to eat because they taste so goddamn good. 


Reduce consumption of these foods and more often than not, you’ll reduce your calories. And just like that, fat loss occurs.


No wonder diet pills, no magical low carb recipes, just good old energy balance at work. 

So how does this fit into not over restricting yourself whilst on a diet? 


Well once you understand that weight loss is all about calorie management, you start to realise that food restriction is not necessary. You don’t have to categorise foods as good and bad, and food choices no longer become moral decisions. 


So as long as you're managing calories, you can still eat that piece of chocolate on a diet and still lose weight. 


And here’s even more reason why being over restrictive on a diet doesn’t really work. You see, research into successful dieting approaches shows that restrictive diets are less likely to be successful than ones with greater flexibility. 


What it ultimately comes down to is dietary adherence and the fact that you can only stick to a diet that eliminates the foods you love for so long. 


Now just take a look around….we live in a world that is full of temptation. Television adverts and supermarket layouts which are designed to tempt us into buying more and more food. These cues heighten your urge to indulge and if you’re following a restrictive diet it’s only a matter of time before you crack. 


Restrict – binge – restrict – binge – repeat. It’s an all too familiar pattern which I’m sure some of you can relate to. So turning this approach on its head and eating more of the foods that you enjoy could help you to make a breakthrough with your diet. 


There is obviously a caveat to all of this and it’s important not to get carried away. Yes, eating the things you love whilst on a diet can be a good thing, but don’t forget the need to focus on other aspects of your nutrition as well. Calories, nutrients and protein still all matter. 


My parting thought on over restrictive diets is this…


No food is inherently good or bad. If you want to lose weight, managing calorie consumption is your primary focus. And doing so in a way that promotes long term adherence is crucial. Now, this might mean incorporating chocolate or some other food that you love into your diet on a regular basis. And that’s okay! 


But ultimately overly restricting yourself and cutting out all of the foods that you love won’t work. Eventually, your cravings and urges will get the better of you. So it’s important to be flexible and inclusive with your food choices and just see the difference that it makes with your progress as well as how you feel!

Why over restrictive diets don’t work


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