5 Reasons Most Diets Fail and What to Do Instead


You crush that fad diet for a few weeks. You lose a few pounds and feel good. So you celebrate. And before you know it, you’re right back to where you started. Sound familiar?

On average, 80 percent of people who try to lose weight by dieting fail. About 40 percent give up after less than a week of trying to eat differently and exercise more. Another 20 percent only make it a month. And another 20 percent of dieters quit after three months.

Been there? Done that? Here are 5 reasons why most diets fail and what to do instead.

  1. No daily calorie-goal. How many calories do you eat per day? Most people don’t know. If you’re just winging it, you’re probably eating too much to achieve your weight loss goal. You need to eat fewer calories than you burn through diet and exercise. For most adults, that’s going to be around 2,000 calories per day or less

    Do this: Track everything you eat. Use an app like MyFitnessPal or Samsung Health to keep track of everything you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Or use another food tracking app. Most include a feature that helps you determine how many calories per day you can eat to achieve your weight loss goal.

    2. Snack attack. Let’s say you’re following a weight loss diet. You’re vigilant about following the recommended meal plan. But you cheat. A candy bar. A soda. A coffee drink with cream and sugar. Dessert. Every one of these snacks is loaded with empty calories, sugar, and fat that will sabotage your weight loss efforts.

    Do this: Before you get the munchies, mid-afternoon craving, or wake up for a midnight snack, plan ahead. Stock up on healthy or healthier snacks instead. Try chopped vegetables with hummus, cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit.
  1. Lack of sleep. How many hours of sleep are you getting per night? If you’re like most adults, you’re perpetually sleep deprived. You kick off your morning with a couple cups of coffee or an energy drink. And go for another round in the afternoon. That might keep you awake, but it won’t help you with weight loss. Lack of sleep raises levels of hormones (ghrelin and leptin) linked to appetite and hunger.

    Do this. Figure out a bedtime routine that works for you, and allows you to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. If that isn’t possible, schedule time during the day for a nap.
  1. Quick-fix dieting. When you ask Google a question, you get an answer almost immediately. When you text a friend a message or post on social media, there’s usually a rapid response of comments and likes. A lot of people expect the same results with dieting. Spot a fad diet. Give your menu a makeover. Maybe starve yourself for a few days. And voila, you look like a magazine cover model. It doesn’t work like that. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Dieting this way always leads to yo-yo results of weight loss and weight gain that never end.

    Do this: Follow a Portion Controlled Diet that’s sustainable for the long haul. You know, with a wide variety of foods, room for flexibility, and even some treats in moderation.
  1. Lack of exercise. How many hours a day do you spend sitting? Think about it. For most people it’s 9 to 12 hours. That includes eating meals, travel, work, and leisure time. And it’s not a good way to burn calories to help you lose weight. If you’re sitting that much, you’re probably not getting enough exercise either.
  2. Do this: Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. For a weight loss goal, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 60 minutes a day. Walk, bike, jog, swim, dance, play basketball. Pick an activity you enjoy and get moving.

Hungry for more? Check out our complete selection of Portion Controlled meals to help you lose weight and keep it off.