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by Dr. Laura Hieb, ND on October 3, 2019
Hello and welcome to my first blog! Out of the many topics I thought of writing about, I decided on weight loss because that is a very important subject to so many people, including myself.

Specifically I would like to talk about diets. My definition of a diet is when a person gives up all of their favorite foods for a specific amount of time to help them lose weight, so that when they achieve their weight loss goal they can start back eating all of their favorite foods again. This eventually necessitates the need for another diet.

I have clients who tell me about their favorite diets and how successful they are--to the point that they have been on these diets 4-5 times!  This brings to mind the quote from Albert Einstein:
"the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".
How many people go on a diet one time, lose the weight they want to lose and never diet again?  I'm sure there's been a few throughout history, but overall most people who want to lose weight go on diet after diet, unless they give up. Even people who go to the extreme of bariatric weight loss surgery, etc,  are not always able to maintain their new weight.

This is partly because most diets are rather extreme in their approach: everyone wants to have lost 20 pounds by yesterday. When a person goes on a very low calorie (and often a nutritionally unsound) diet, he or she will lose weight. But what kind of weight? Some of the weight loss will be water weight, and this is good. Some will be fat--great! But some will be muscle--and this is very not good. Why? Because besides all the wonderful things muscles do for us, muscle has a higher resting metabolic rate than fat does. This means that if you have a good amount of muscle mass, you can be sitting around, doing absolutely nothing, and you will be burning  more calories than someone who has less muscle mass!

Ladies, this is part of the reason men can eat a lot (more than women) and not gain weight.

So the person on the extreme low calorie diet has lost weight. Great! But if he or she is like the majority of dieters, he or she will start gaining some weight again (see above). But, and this is a crucial But, this time they will gain fat, which has a lower resting metabolic rate. Unless they have been working at building up muscle mass, this person has just lowered their metabolic rate to a lower rate than when they first dieted.

So a person who has been on a succession of low calorie diets and who has not been exercising (or not exercising much), now has a lower metabolic rate than when he or she went on the initial diet!

This helps to explain how chronic dieters can eat almost nothing and still have difficulty losing weight.

So what is the answer if diets are not?

Lifestyle changes.