Why diets don’t work

Everywhere you turn there seems to be a new diet that people claim is the answer to losing weight. However, have you ever stopped to think that diets may not work?

In Michael Greger's new book, How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss, he explores just that and explains why dieting is never the answer for a healthy lifestyle or weight loss. 

Here we share an extract that may put your mind in a different perspective:

"Diets don’t work almost by definition. Going on a diet implies that, at some point, you will go off the diet.

"Short-term fixes are no match for long-term problems. Lifelong weight control requires lifelong lifestyle changes. 

"First, a diet has to be sustainable. Consider water-only fasting, for example. No diet works better. It’s 100  percent effective, but also 100 percent fatal if you manage to stick with it. This is why an optimal weight- loss diet needs additional building blocks to ensure long-term viability.

"As well as being efficacious and sustainable, it needs to be safe. Books touting liquid protein diets in the 1970s sold millions of copies, but the diets started killing people. Safety is about losing weight without losing your health.

"Any long-term eating pattern must also be nutritionally complete, containing all essential vitamins and minerals. A vegan diet, for example, can fail at this criterion, as it lacks vitamin B12, which is not made by plants, but by microbes that blanket the earth. In today’s sanitised modern world, we now chlorinate the water supply to kill off any bacteria, so we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore - but we don’t get a lot of cholera either, which is a good thing! Without that vitamin, though, vegans eventually risk blindness, psychosis, paralysis, and death, which is why B12 supplements or B12- fortified foods are critically important for anyone adopting a plant-based diet.

"And finally, our chosen diets should be life-extending. At the very least, what we eat shouldn’t cut our lives short and ideally should be healthy enough to improve our life spans. There’s no point in losing weight if it causes you to lose it all."

This is an edited extract from How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss by Dr Michael Greger. Available now RRP $34.99, published by Bluebird - macmillan.com.au

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