Roughly 80% of all dieters fail to keep the weight off and soon go back to their old ways. So what is the secret that the remaining 20% have mastered? How can we keep our diet on track? Here are the top five reasons that diets fail and what you can do to stay on target:
No-one wants to be the person who only orders a salad when they are having a meal out. Social plans can often completely sabotage a diet. Restaurant menus rarely offer low fat versions and there is a lot of social pressure to join in with everyone else; opting for high calorie meals, starters and desserts.
The best way round this is to decline the invites and change the way you do things. Rather than meeting for coffee suggest your friend tries out a new exercise class with you, or invite them over for a nice cup of tea at your house instead. A date could involve a long romantic walk, rather than a meal or you could opt for a home-cooked meal which would be far more intimate and would let you control the menu.
Movie nights at home with healthy snacks can replace cinema visits and if you do choose to go out for drinks opt for healthier options like red wine which is rammed with antioxidants and the has the lowest sugar content of all wines. Gin and diet tonic, vodka and orange or whisky with a diet mixer are also good options. Just stay away from sugary cocktails. If you can get some dancing in too, you'll boost the calorie burn.
Not planning ahead
Dieting takes a fair amount of planning, which is fine if you have worked out your weekly meal plan and are rigidly sticking to it. However, sometimes you may need to work overtime or may be out the house for longer than you expected.
It can be hard to find healthy snacks or meals when you are out and about and this is often when people grab a chocolate bar or bag of crisps to curb the hunger pangs. Try and get in the habit of keeping low-fat and low-sugar snacks on you at all times. Snack packs of dried fruit and seeds are brilliant as they are brimming with nutrients and will give you a healthy energy boost. Slip them into your handbag, your car glove box and your desk at work so you are never caught short.
It is also worth getting up a little earlier in the morning to prepare a lunch from scratch rather than trying to find something healthy during the working day.
Many people dramatically cut calories in order to lose weight as quickly as possible, this sudden drop in blood sugar can make you feel tetchy, exhausted and miserable. If you suddenly start skipping meals or dramatically cut your calorie intake your body won't know what is happening and will cling on to the fat supplies as it will fear that you are starving. It will also slow down your metabolism.
One of the best ways to work out how many calories you should be consuming is by working out your BMR (basal metabolic rate) which is basically how many calories you burn when you are inactive, you can then add in the activities you do on a daily basis and work out your calorific needs. Calculate your BMR here.
Consuming too few calories is one of the top reasons why diets fail so it is worth taking a small amount of time to work out your calorific needs.
Not keeping track of your progress
The best way to keep your diet on track is to make a record of your calorie intake and log exercise sessions too. You are far less likely to reach for a second biscuit if you know that you'll have to make a note of the calories that are in the biscuit. You can either track it in a notebook and tot up the number of calories as the day progresses, or you can use an app.
A good way to chart progress is by taking your waist measurement. You could also measure your upper thigh, upper arms and hips if you wanted. Don't measure yourself everyday as you may feel frustrated if the results are slower than you had hoped. You are better off measuring yourself once a week as you will notice more substantial results.
Lack of support network
If the people that you live with don't really know that you are dieting, or don't support you then you may find things really tricky. Dieting can feel like a very personal choice, but if you don't tell the people in your life then you may find the journey is much harder. Make sure the people you see on a daily basis are on board and hopefully your partner will stop snacking in front of the TV and your workmates won't offer you cakes every day.
It can also be really helpful to have friends who have similar goals. If any of your friends seem to be unhappy with their weight then why not suggest you support one another. Check in each day to chart progress. They don't even have to be in the same country as you. You could set up a secret group on a social media site, or text or email each other each day. You can share advice and support each other.
If your friends don't seem interested then it may be worth finding a weight loss forum online or even signing up to a weight loss group that meets regularly in your area. Surrounding yourself with people who share similar goals is a great way to stay on target.
So next time you consider a diet, rethink your approach. With a little bit of forethought you can stay on track and enjoy healthy weight loss.