Experts say dieting doesn’t work; here’s what’s much better

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Conversations surrounding weight loss and dieting are ingrained into American culture. With that, most of us have tried a diet plan at least once before. Some of us have even managed to stick with the eating regimen no matter how strict it might be. While dieting can garner some impressive results at first, experts say it is simply not sustainable in the long run. According to the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, 95 percent of dieters regain their lost weight within one to five years. Studies also show that those dieters regain weight whether or not they maintain their diet or exercise program.

Why doesn’t it work?

There is a negative connotation surrounding dieting as is. When you diet, you are creating limits around what you can and cannot eat. When someone starts a diet — if they are motivated and consistent — they see weight loss almost immediately. As they continuing losing weight, their metabolism eventually starts to slow down, and this can become a recipe for disaster if they don’t change some of their other habits. Sharon Zarabi, RD, CDN, CPT, bariatric program director, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York tells Healthline, “As you lose weight, your metabolism fights back against you and makes it harder to continue with that downward trend. We need to be more in tune with what works best for us, without feeling deprived, causing us to bounce back to prior unhealthy eating styles, whether it be macros, intervals of feeding, or portion control.”

So what can you do instead?

One of the solutions to losing weight in a healthy and effective way begins with lifestyle changes. You can start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your grocery list. Eat more healthy foods and snacks that you actually enjoy eating — and that makes you feel good — and you won’t feel the need to have a cheat-day as frequently as you do when you avoid an entire food group when dieting.

Also, stop ordering out every night even if the food option is seemingly healthy. When you actually cook your food, you have more control over what goes into your meals. It also helps you build an overall healthier relationship with food.

Despina Hyde-Gandhi, MS, registered dietitian at NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program, recommends a rule of 50-25-25. With this rule in mind, you are consuming 50 percent of vegetables in each meal, 25 percent of lean protein, and 25 percent of high-fiber carbs. “If you follow that formula, weight loss aside, you’ll feel well and your blood sugars will be balanced, which is helpful in maintaining your weight,” she tells Healthline.

Getting quality sleep, exercising daily, and drinking enough water are some other practices that contribute to your long-term health and well-being.

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