One third of Americans are on a diet right now. Even more surprising, the average American diets five times in their life. Yet 7 out of 10 Americans are considered overweight or obese. We’re trying to get “healthier,” but why isn’t it working? It’s not for lack of trying, but the most popular approaches aren’t cutting (literally) the pounds.

Diets fail when the attempt at weight loss or improving health results in a return to unhealthy eating habits, a failure to lose weight, or losing weight but eventually gaining it back.

Fads go away, but fat?

Go ahead and enter “diet” on a search engine. You’ll be bombarded with promises of weight loss, tips and tricks for how to eat better, and endless, sometimes contradictory, information. Options pop up that seem promising, but take a deeper look and you’ll discover otherwise. Fad diets can be high maintenance, time consuming, or unrealistic. Whenever this is the case, the diet probably won’t work, at least not in a sustainable long-term way. Fad diets often spike in popularity at times when they offer certain health advantages. Though they may seem appealing, they are often intentionally designed to be temporary, and therefore not sustainable in the long run for the busy life of the typical working American. At this point, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s the diet that fails, not the person.

You may start a diet optimistic, and ready to beat the odds. However, the reality is that only three out of five dieters will make it past the first week, and only one will make it through the first month. Why? Because our bodies weren’t meant to be on a permanent diet.

Biological barriers

Potentially more frustrating than putting complete trust into a “diet” destined to fail, our bodies have some barriers set up to fight sustained weight loss. Our brain is wired from the caveman days to crave food choices that provide a lot of energy quickly. Sometimes, that can also mean the foods we want won’t be healthy — especially in an era of fast food and processed snacks. Furthermore, our bodies are wired to stay at a certain set point: the weight you body believes you operate at most efficiently. As we gain weight, this set point can go up, but it’s unfortunately very difficult to bring it back down. With our bodies scrambling to stay near this set point, they will fight drastic weight loss. Even more so for weight loss over a short period of time. If you do achieve sudden weight loss, you may also be more susceptible to weight gain after.

Focus on the long-term

If you are looking to start a new one-size-fits-all diet soon, consider an alternative strategy. Make small, proactive, lifestyle changes based on what your body needs. Diets based on denial with unsustainable eating plans are highly unlikely to bring you the long term results you’re looking for, and often backfire. In contrast, products like Lumen are based on a holistic long-term strategy for improving health and metabolic flexibility. Lumen learns how your metabolism works through a daily breath. From the daily breath, Lumen builds a customized daily nutrition plan based on your metabolism, making necessary lifestyle recommendations such as increasing sleep time or fasting to avoid weight loss plateaus. By understanding better what our individual bodies need and acting on it, we achieve our fitness or weight loss goals. Slow and steady wins the race.

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