WITH NEW findings from the National Heart Foundations Annual Health Survey reporting that half of all Australians aged between 25 and 49 are trying to lose weight is it any wonder that any new diet or food trend gets plenty of attention?
Unfortunately this interest and attention does not mean we achieve success, in fact it could be argued that the more we diet and try to drop the kilos, the worse off we are with up to 60 per cent of Australians overweight or obese.
So why do we not succeed when we try to lose weight? And how can we change this?
1. We focus on restriction
While every one of us has a 'diet' that we follow each day - the reality is that most of us consider the word diet to mean a specific regimen that we follow for short periods of time that is restrictive in nature.
Generally speaking we believe that a diet must be hard, have an element of punishment about it and must eliminate cut various types of foods or nutrients.
The issue with this long term is that human beings do not like to feel restricted, and in fact once they do, psychologically they focus their attention on the restriction and as such prime themselves to want the exact foods they are avoiding.
And this is the simple reason that most diets fail long term.
The restriction cannot last forever and after a period of time we all return to our old, deeply entrenched eating habits and behaviours ultimately regaining any weight we have successfully lost. In turn, the only solution is to commit to dietary regimes in which we do not feel overly restricted - whether this includes regular 'cheats', treats or successfully incorporates social eating and special occasions.
2. We are either "off" or "on"
The idea of beginning each week "being good" or starting a new diet program each Monday lends itself to a dieting cycle in which we are either on or off a particular diet.
This diet cycling not only means that we never achieve long term sustainable results but the constant process of losing a few kilos and then regaining them has a significant impact on our metabolism long term.
Generally speaking each and every time we lose weight, our metabolism will be reduced, even slightly, which makes weight loss more and more difficult. For this reason, committing to long term eating patterns as opposed to quick fix weight loss tricks is the key to losing and then controlling weight long term.
3. We do not focus on metabolism
When our focus is on "losing weight" or reducing calorie intake dramatically to see a quick change on the scales inevitably we lose a certain amount of muscle mass.
As muscle mass is the type of body tissue that actually burns calories, dramatic calorie reductions that occur reasonably frequently over time combine to reduce metabolic rate, and eventually come to mean that calorie restriction and diets no longer get the results they once did when it comes to weight loss.
Or put more simply, the body is no longer able to efficiently burn calories as it is so used to being calorie deprived at regular intervals.
To avoid this scenario when we seek out weight loss we need to combine controlled calorie restriction with the type of training that increases muscle mass and as such helps to increase metabolic rate over time.
This approach means we become better at burning calories as opposed to less efficient at burning them long term.
4. We don't want to
It is not so much that we do not want to lose weight, rather we do not want to do the things we need to do long-term to successfully lose weight and keep it off.
For example, we do not want to cut back our portions, eat lightly to compensate for all the extras we enjoy, and we are more likely to skimp out on gym sessions than do more exercise to help compensate for the extra calories we are consuming.
Modern life, in which we are working long hours, spend much of the day sitting and trying to cram as much into our lives as we can while eating whatever we want is not conducive to weight control.
Ultimately most of us need to commit to moving more on a daily basis and eating less than we are used to if want to take control of our weight for good.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.