Why Low Calorie Diets Fail


  • Low adherence.
    • 21% of dieters dropped out in the first 2 months, 45% had quit by the end of the year (Tufts-New England Medical Center, JAMA Jan 5, 2005)
    • 90-95% of people who lose weight with diet gain most of the weight back within 3 to 5 years.
  • Most diets restrict your caloric intake so much that metabolism slows down.
    • Why Low Calorie Diets FailDrastically reducing calories can slow your metabolism and hinder the weight loss process (Leibel, Rosenbaum & Hirsch 1995)
    • Dieter's body becomes highly efficient at conserving calories and storing them as fat.
    • Lowered metabolism increases likelihood dieter regains even more weight particularly when old eating habits are resumed.
    • Often times, more body fat, or weight is gained back due to yo-yo dieting.
    • Frequent changes of weight increases risk of heart disease and premature death (Brownell & Rodin 1994; Lissner et al. 1991).
    • Permanent changes in eating habits and exercise are required for sustained weight loss.
    • If too few calories are being consumed, simultaneous adjustments should be made
    • increase calories throughout day by eating 3 balance meals and 2-3 snacks
    • increase both anaerobic and aerobic activity
    • See starvation effect.
  • Low Calorie dieting may result in depression, which is counter productive to losing weight.
    • Depriving yourself of food can lead to depriving yourself of social events. You may give up eating meals out or eating with friends because you don't want to eat something off your diet. This can lead to depression and possible overeating to compensate for what you're missing.
  • Most diets don't encourage lifestyle changes.
    • Making temporary changes in eating habits or eating prepackaged foods from weight loss programs will facilitate weight loss. However, when you reach your goals or go off the weight loss program, you may be more likely to return to old eating habits and gain the weight back (and possibly more). To have permanent weight loss, you must make permanent changes in food choices, eating habits, and physical activity.
  • With very low calorie diets, weight loss is usually lean body weight.
    • Diets that severely restrict caloric intake, facilitates loss of lean body weight as opposed to fat weight. This can result in a person who isn't overweight, but has a high body fat composition.
    • If diet is implemented, a very subtle decrease in calories may result in longer lasting weight loss with less lean body weight loss.
  • Exercise is not part of the program.
    • ACSM recognizes exercise as the greatest predictor of maintaining weight loss
    • Weight training can decrease the loss of muscle

Low Carb
Low Fat
Fats 30% 40% <30 <15 <10
Carbs <20% <30% 40% 50% 55-60%
Diets Atkins, Protein Power, Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy Carbohydrate Addicts Diet Zone Diet Average American Diet Food Guide Pyramid, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Dash Diet, Typical Athlete Diet Pritikin Diet Dean Ornish Diet
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