An image of a healthy fruit slaad, with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, pineappe, and kiwi.

Do diets work?

Research shows that most diets do not lead to long term weight loss. Most people lose weight while they are counting calories or limiting their food intake and then gain the weight (and more) back when they stop dieting. There are two reasons for this:

  1. While dieting, your body adapts to lower calorie intake by using fewer calories for fuel. When you stop dieting and start eating normally again, your body still needs fewer calories and excess calories are stored as fat. You will gain weight faster and easier than before the diet.
  2. Most "weight loss diets" are designed to be followed for a few weeks or months, not for the rest of your life. Some diets require you to buy pills, meals, or other products that help you lose weight. Other diets involve eating patterns that are not healthy if continued for a long period of time (e.g., avoiding complete food groups, low carbohydrate, high protein diets). Many diets do not help you make healthier food choices and change your eating and physical activity habits for good.

What about diet books, weight loss programs, and diet foods?

Lots of books, programs, foods, pills, and other products are marketed to help people lose weight. To decide if
any of these products are right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it promise fast and easy weight loss? This is not a long term solution.
  • Does it sound too good to be true? It probably is.
  • Is the product a "miracle" or a "secret"? Healthy eating and physical activity are not secrets.
  • Do you have to buy special foods, pills, or products? You can eat regular foods and lose weight.
  • Is there a dietitian or doctor associated with the product? Look for credible experts.

Learn more about the pros and cons of low-carb diets.