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Diets Don’t Work, How To Plan Nutritional Change That Sticks

Diets don’t work!

A potentially shocking statement, especially if people have been following diets for much of their lives! There are a number of reasons why the concept of going an a diet is flawed. First & foremost going on a diet presupposes the idea that you will going back to what you were eating before the diet & therefore put back on whatever *perceived* weight lost. Through cravings generated by depleting our bodies from what they need & depleting ourselves we rebound with a vengeance which only ends with feeling extremely unhappy when this happens. This then causes us to seek out the next fad diet in an effort to find something that works, causing us to constantly yoyo from one diet to the next, destroying confidence & self esteem, giving us limiting beliefs & unhealthy associations to food in the process.

The sad truth is that many of these diet peddling companies do not care about people as much as they care about their bank balances & play on people’s fears & insecurities to sell diet products that are ineffective in the long term. Some of the effects that calorie cutting & diets does to our system:

  • Diets disrupt hormone balance & sensitivity, especially when fats are cut out due to many hormones being made primarily from fats.
  • When your hormones are out of whack a very common effect is for us to hold onto weight.
  • Insulin sensitivity goes up which is the path to diabetes.
  • Not eating enough is a stress on the body which activates the sympathetic nervous system causing stress hormones that break down our body.
  • Stress causes adrenal exhaustion.
  • Cutting calories disrupts enzyme activity, increasing lipogenic (fat-storing) enzymes & decreasing lypolytic (fat burning) enzymes.
  • After the initial drop in weight our body adapts & goes into scarcity mode, storing fat for future use as it does not know when it will next be fed, similar to not drinking enough water.
  • Our body shuts down it’s metabolic processes to conserve more energy causing us to become lethargic.
  • We lose muscle mass which in turn causes us to burn less calories – the more muscle we have, the more we burn at rest.

One of the worst fallacies in my opinion is that when you step on the scales after a 2 week crash diet & are pleased that you’ve lost xxx number of pounds you have most probably lost that weight in useful muscle tissue, & not so much fat as you thought. This is one reason why scales are not that reliable, always go by body composition where possible. Also when you go back to eating normally you will hopefully put that muscle back on but be annoyed with the scales because you’ve gained more weight. The point though is that this is USEFUL weight that we are gaining & losing!

Don’t diet, there are much better ways!

Tips for losing weight.

Balanced nutrition is absolutely key to a healthy mind & body to make sure we get everything we need in the right quantities. If you can aim to have Lean Protein, Complex Carbs, Healthy Fats & a Portion of Veg  with each meal then you will be on track for a healthy & balanced system.

Quantity is also very important. The first law of thermodynamics is that energy can be transferred from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed. In terms of our bodies excess fat can be thought of energy that our body is storing to use later. If we eat & train in deficit of what our individual bodies need then we will tap into those fat stores, use them as energy & shed the weight. On the other side of the coin if we eat more than what we need that excess energy will be stored as fat as it has nowhere else to go. We could have the best most balanced diet in the world but if we eat a surplus then we will get fat. Likewise you could eat Mcdonalds & donuts all the time & still lose weight if you are eating less then what your body needs calorie wise. The problem with this though is that you will feel terrible due to your body not getting all of the lovely other stuff that comes with eating a balanced diet. *******The important thing to note here is that for best results we should create the deficit from moving & training, not from cutting calories!******

The key is to think in terms of a nutritional lifestyle change rather than dieting as remember; if we go back to eating what we were before then we will stay the same as we always were. The definition of insanity is to try the same thing over & over again & expect different results!

  • Never diet.
  • Eat regularly to satisfy hunger. Consume slightly smaller main meals & include healthy snacks to elevate the metabolism OR such techniques as fasting can be very effective but require willpower. The important thing to remember is that eating times still contain the right amount of calories.
  • Eat high quality nutritionally dense foods – Lean proteins, good fats, lots of veg, organic if possible.
  • Drink plenty of water at least 5 pints for women & 6 for men. More is better when we are hungry a lot of the time we are actually thirsty!
  • Move your body! We are designed to move, even something as small as taking the stairs or parking round the block from work is good.
  • Get enough sleep an average of 8 hours & asleep by 10:30
  • Follow an 80/20 rule; eat well for 80% of the time & what you like within reason the other 20%. You will still get great results & not go mad in the process through lack of favourite foods!
  • Let’s face it, to say not to drink alcohol is unrealistic & will also contribute to negative connotations around dieting. There are smart ways to go about it though, lay off pints & mixers & go for drinks like vodka lime & sodas to make a difference.
  • Eat at the right times & in a regular routine if your meal strategy is upside down so will your figure be! Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper is a good rule.
  • Eat good quality proteins as they keep you full.
  • Eat a large breakfast with fats & proteins to set favourable hormonal responses throughout the day.
  • Plan ahead! Knowing what you are having 3 meals ahead helps us to make good food decisions.
  • Avoid sugary foods, saturated fats & anything processed.

This can be a lot to implement all at once. Make small changes week by week & get into the habit of thinking ahead when it comes to food. When convenience happens we make bad food choices that involved processed foods which I will delve deeper into in the digestion section. The best places to start focusing on are drinking more water, moving more & getting a good breakfast. Build from there.

 If your meal strategy is upside down so will be your figure!


How to change your eating habits for the better & get to where you want to be.


Step 1: Start a food diary.

When beginning any nutritional lifestyle change it is important to find out exactly what you eat & where you are with your current foods. This brings awareness to your eating habits. We cannot change unless we are aware. I have attached a handy food diary to this post to fill out over the space of a week. It is important to note how you are feeling about half an hour after each meal as well. Unless we are looking for it we don’t notice the dip in moods caused by certain foods! Once you know where you are you can create a plan suited to where you want to be without cutting your favourite foods out of your diet. Beware: it is easy to forget foods & miss them off the list. Taking pictures of the foods can help a lot with this. Let me know how you get on after a week 🙂

Step 2: Make a plan

There are formulas based on your current weight to work out exactly how many calories you need per day. Did you know that 50%-70% of calories consumed are spent just keeping you alive? That’s heart beating, breathing & thinking etc. A further 5-15% are spent digesting your food, protein burns the most calories through digestion while fats, especially saturated burn the least through digestion. Our daily activities then make up the rest of our energy expenditure. You can expect to burn calories, which at the end of the day are just a way of measuring energy, by moving, being active & exercising. By fueling correctly & with enough you have the energy to then be able to expend energy & feel great in the process. Once you know how many calories you need you can then factor in movement to the equation.

For example: I calculate that I need approx 3000 calories a day to stay the same. If I eat that amount & mix a heavy exercise session into my day I might burn 800 calories & enjoy all the benefits of exercise in the process. By using this method for 5 days I will burn 4000 cals which is over a pound of fat (1 pound = 3500 calories) & preserve all of my muscle mass.

If I instead decide  to deplete myself by cutting 800 calories out of my diet then I fall victim to the negative effects of cutting calories above & yes I will lose weight but in what? Fat & muscle. Enough of depleting myself like this & I will begin to feel like crap & get tired easily & may not have the energy to exercise as my energy needs to be preserved for surviving.

Movement is king so you can say that by putting in a deficit of 500cals a day for a week through exercising or even just walking I will burn a pound of fat & feel good while doing it.

Step 3: Set your goal or goals.

Goals are an integral part of the process as without clearly defined goals we can lose sight of what we are aiming for & have little to work towards. Vague goals such as “I want to lose a bit of weight” are absolutely no good as how do you know when you’ve reached this goal? A much better goal could be “I want to drop 3 dress sizes by May the 1st” or “I want to reach 10% bodyfat by March the 29th”. Try to avoid losing weight as a goal, more on that in step 5. Goals need to be:





Time constrained

Or SMART for short 🙂

Step 4: Find your why for inspiration, consistency & sticking to the plan. This is largely a mindset element. More on this in future articles but suffice to say for now that you need to find your why. Why do you want to lose weight? What is your pain? What will happen if you don’t lose the weight? By focusing on this you give yourself fuel, a reason to change & a reason to be inspired to action. Write out your whys & putting them on the fridge can be a good tactic.


Step 5: Track your results & feel great about your progress!

Stay consistent & you will begin to reap the rewards of your hard work. By losing weight this way it is much easier to keep off as you are not in the yoyo cycle of diets, you have instead changed your thinking & changed your behaviours towards your nutrition for the better! By tracking your progress you can tell whether you are on track for your goals or whether or not you need to switch something up & adjust the plan.


Step 6: Hit the goal & feel great!

Whether it’s confidence, body image, something you’ve always wanted to do or whether you just want to look good on the beach, enjoy your new weight & own it! You deserve to get there 🙂


Takeaway points:

Movement is king when becoming happier, healthier & stronger.

Don’t diet.

Drink lots of water.

Enjoy the process otherwise it gets very hard!

To change a habit takes effort & motivation. This is where your whys come in to help motivate & inspire you. It will not always go as planned but the trick is to acknowledge when things don’t go so well, learn from it & keep moving forward. A small win is still a win & enough small wins equal a big win!

Don’t start a fad diet in January, it won’t work in the long run!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, sign up to my newsletter for tips, tricks & an exclusive 9 day health information package! 🙂

Also if you could benefit from habitual change & nutritional coaching then call me on 07376124981

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