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The Primary Problem With All Diets

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
It's not the diet---it's the dieter.

A new study shows that the primary problem with all diets may not be with the diet itself, but with dieters being unable to stick with them. Discover now which diet type yields the best short-term weight loss results and what you can do to stay on track with your dieting.


Study Looks for Potential Stick-to-it-iveness Factors

A new study from the Univerersity of Pennsylvania School of Nursing was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that reported their findings involving a range of diet plans and the factors that could lead dieters toward sticking longer to their weight loss programs and goals.

What the data showed was that in reality—even with diet plans that are effective—all of them suffer from the same problem: dieters rarely stick to any diet beyond the short term.

“There is not convincing evidence that one diet is universally easier to adhere to than another for extended periods, a feature necessary for long-term weight management,” says Ariana M. Chao, PhD, CRNP, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Penn Nursing and lead investigator of the paper.

“Progress in improving dietary adherence could result from greater efforts to examine mechanisms underlying interindividual variability in responses to dietary approaches. The more we understand the characteristics of individuals who are trying to lose weight, the more able we may be to identify dietary interventions that facilitate their efforts.”

While the results of the study yielded no immediate actionable solutions for dieters to the problem of sticking to a diet, at least some of the data gathered does support that (at least in the short term) lower calorie based diets compared with higher-calorie regimens, reliably induced larger short-term weight loss during the first 6 months of dieting. Furthermore, that low-carb versus low-fat dieting offers some weight loss advantages when dieters focused on low-carb dieting.

Very Low Carb Diet With Eggs Results In Significant Belly Fat Loss Says Study

However, the long game goal of dieting is not to just lose weight, but to keep it off as well. Hence, the importance of this study in trying to find ways to ensure long-term weight loss success.

Weight Loss Dieting Motivators

The problem of not sticking to a diet is a universal one. For most of us, the weight just does not come off fast enough (or easy enough) to keep up the effort and persevere. Moreover, I suspect that “dieting fatigue” is the biggest diet killer. In other words, that constant pressure of mindfulness while dieting; and thereby, the obsession with that next meal and what you are planning to eat that is allowable in your diet.

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Why Keeping Weight Off Takes More Than Just Willpower

There are no easy solutions to this problem, but there is help available. Here are some recommended articles from Emaxhealth that offers advice on how to stick with your diet:

Three Non-Food Weight Loss Tips to Motivate the Dieter

Motivation a Major Factor in Successful Weight Loss

17 Quotes of Emotional Motivations To Lose Weight

Filling Your Mind Rather Than Your Stomach Works for Curbing Cravings, Says Study

For more about how dieting can work in practice, follow this diet self-experiment that has yielded some promising short term weight loss results that you may find motivating toward your own efforts to lose weight.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay


Dietary Adherence and the Fight Against Obesity” Penn Nursing news release 25 January 2021.

Dietary interventions for obesity: clinical and mechanistic findings” Ariana M. Chao Journal of Clinical Investigation Volume 131, Issue 1 on January 4, 2021; 131(1): e140065.