There are many “effective” weight loss strategies. Unfortunately, there are only a few ways to make that weight loss stick around for good. By choosing impractical, unsustainable, or quick-fix style approaches, you set yourself up for failure in the long run.
When I teach my “health bank account” philosophy of healthy living, one of the concepts I cover is “debt.”
In finance, debt is the act of borrowing short-term success. You’re given a result up front and then you have to pay for it when the bill comes due.
In the health bank account philosophy, debt is the act of borrowing success through quick-fix weight loss strategies. You get the desired result very quickly and then you pay for it later.
As is true in finance, you often end up paying interest on that deal. This is why two-thirds of people who lose weight, gain back more weight than they started with on these approaches.
If you want to avoid that same fate, it’s important that you buy into authentic strategies. This means resisting the temptation of the quick-fix.
Below are 11 weight loss strategies that will likely doom you to failure if you try them.
1. Cleanses, Detoxes, and Juice Fasts
You feel great when you do a cleanse, detox, or juice fast, don’t you?
Be careful, though. The common misconception is that you feel better because of what you’re putting into your body. The reality is that you feel better because of what you’re not putting in your body.
In other words, there’s no magic to what you’re consuming. The magic is in the fact that you’re no longer inundating your system with all the ANTI food you were previously eating.
You can look great and feel great without these gimmicks. And you won’t be tricking yourself as to what’s causing the improvements.
Juicing is also problematic in many ways. The nutrients can be difficult to assimilate properly because a lot of the key vitamins are fat soluble. You’re also not chewing, so your digestive enzymes may not be triggered properly.
There’s also some potential metabolic issues, which is something I highlighted for people who think Naked Juice is super healthy.
Since you can’t live on cleanses, detoxes, and juice fasts, there’s little reason to start them in the first place.
2. Going Fat-Free or Low-Fat
Are we back in the 90s?
If there’s one proven way to be miserable when losing weight, low-fat is probably it.
If you enjoy food that tastes good and you want to avoid feeling like you’re starving all the time, low-fat isn’t for you.
Even worse, most people on low-fat diets are not eating real food. They’re eating chemical-laden low-fat foods, frozen dinners, and processed snacks.
Will you lose weight? Yes. Will you hate your life? Yes. Will you gain all the weight back and more? Very likely.
3. Counting & Tracking Calories or Points
This is by far the most popular strategy. It’s the holy grail of the fitness and dieting industry.
In fact, it’s so widely accepted that many people will insist it’s the *only* way to look great long-term (they’re wrong, of course).
For the Weight Watchers fanatics, I’ve got you covered as well.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t find joy in religiously tracking food. The good news is, you don’t have to. The human body’s internal calculator is much more accurate. It’s also dynamically responsive to your needs.
4. Sugar & Carb Abstinence
Another popular weight loss strategy is to moralize and demonize certain foods, types of foods, or macronutrients.
While this strategy does overlap some of the other strategies we’ve talked about, I’m more interested in highlighting the sugar abstinence strategy.
There’s a big misconception in the fitness and dieting industry right now that sugar is addictive. That it has special powers over you. And if you want to lose weight, be healthy, and stay successful, you have to abstain from sugar.
It’s more than abstinence, though. It’s a demonization approach. It’s a moralization approach.
You can enjoy sugar from time to time on a healthy diet. In fact, my argument is that people who religiously abstain from certain foods altogether do not have a healthy relationship with food.
It’s time to stop giving certain foods so much power. Take that power back and learn to approach healthy eating with a healthier mindset.
5. Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal replacement shakes are a popular dieting tactic because they take decision-making out of the process. Unfortunately, they also take empowerment out of the process.
Let’s be real. You know that drinking meal replacement shakes for the rest of your life is not a sustainable approach. You also know that most of the meal replacement shakes on the market are processed, chemical garbage.
Your body needs real food. It needs micronutrition (not synthetic vitamins). It needs more calories than those shakes provide (they’re typically used for severe calorie restriction).
Skip the shakes and eat real food. It’s not that difficult.
6. Weight Loss Supplements
Ah, the ultimate promise of a painless solution. That’s what everyone wants, right? They want to look great and feel great for the rest of their life without lifting a finger.
it’s time to face the music. There’s no free lunch. There’s no effortless way out of the condition you’ve worked yourself into.
You can, however, enjoy the process. Just because something takes effort doesn’t mean it has to suck. But the process itself is necessary. The effort is necessary.
Why? Because even if the pills worked (they don’t), they don’t create the conditions for personal growth and empowerment. It would be like winning the lottery.
Do you know what happens to almost everyone who wins the lottery? They go broke again. Becuase if you don’t know how to achieve something through legitimate means, you don’t know how to keep that thing around either.
Ditch the supplements. Stop looking for a quick fix.
7. Proprietary Franken Food Diets
Diets like Ideal Protein are popular for the same reason meal replacement shakes are popular. It’s all about convenience.
While these diets are appealing, they’re quite silly. You’re paying premium money for processed and pre-packaged foods specifically for the purpose of weight loss.
Let’s be clear on something. There’s nothing special about the foods. They’re not magic. In the case of Ideal Protein, their “formula” is pretty simple. They take processed foods and add protein to them.
You lose weight because of the portions they send you, not because there’s something magic about the food itself.
8. Ketosis / Ketogenic Eating
Ah yes, the fad du jour.
But the more and more I watch people do keto (and poke my head into online keto forums), the more I see keto becoming a religion full of crazy zealots.
It’s getting out of hand. It’s well into the territory of disordering people’s relationship with food. I mean, people are legit eating sticks of butter now. I don’t want any part in that.
I’m also seeing more and more keto people claiming that keto is the only way for people to really lose weight. This is the kind of dogma that has no place in the health and fitness world.
Here’s the bottom line. Keto isn’t necessary. It’s obsessive. It’s becoming a cult. Do not go toward the bright light! Abort!
I’m going to get a lot of hate mail for this one. Veganism is a religion and there are lots of angry cultists waiting in the weeds ready to pounce.
For this one, I’ll just point you to this awesome podcast episode from Daniel Vitalis called, “Why I’m not a Vegan” (he was a vegan for 10 years, fyi). He covers it in much greater depth than I care to.
If you like what Daniel has to say, you can listen to my interview with him as a follow-up to that one.
10. The hCG Diet
I have an idea: why don’t you eat 500-700 calories a day and inject yourself with pregnancy hormones?
What in the actual fuck.
People will do anything (except embrace authentic principles & patience) to try and lose weight.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy to help the baby grow. This is the centerpiece of this fad diet that uses hCG drops, shots, or pills to suppress appetite and cause weight loss.
While the hCG diet will work for weight loss (as almost all of these tactics do), it’s 100% unsustainable. And unless you’re getting the hCG administered from a doctor, it’s not really hCG.
It’s also unclear whether or not hCG is effective. The research is not there to support it, meaning that the hCG diet could potentially be the #1 most expensive way to lose weight eating 500 calories a day.
11. Exercising Religiously & to Near-Death
It’s been ingrained in us from an early age that exercise is the primary path to weight loss. This is why the masses start crazy exercise programs every New Years.
The problem with this – and the reason why you always become inconsistent and quit – is that the exercise regimen you agree to is not something you enjoy. Sure, you might enjoy how you feel afterward, but there’s a lot of friction and resistance to getting there.
This is the primary reason people believe that looking great and feeling great requires a lot of willpower and discipline. They’re not eating enough food and they’re doing crazy workouts. Who wouldn’t need willpower and discipline following that model?
The truth is that nutrition is the best way to radically change body composition. Exercise is important, but it’s not the number one factor. And you certainly don’t have to kill yourself in your workouts to get results. There are many ways to work smarter, not harder.
I’d also recommend switching to an intrinsically motivated fitness practice. That’s the key to never needing willpower or discipline to stay consistent.
12. Eating Salads
“I’ll have the salad.”
Dieters love salads. It’s the first thing they think of when it’s time to lose weight. It’s the go-to option at every meal.
Their favorite thing to put on salads is boneless, skinless chicken breast and low-fat dressing. And then they complain about being starving all the time.
You *are* starving. You’re not eating enough calories and you’re not bringing in enough nutrition.
The alternative is to eat awesome meals. To eat more food. To eat food that’s actually nutritious. And to do all that while still reaching your goals.
It’s not just possible, it’s imperative. Stop eating salads.
13. Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery isn’t something to take lightly. Often, people who opt for this route feel hopeless and see surgery as the only way out from under the physical and emotional weight of obesity.
The fundamental problem with this route is that it doesn’t address the root cause of the issue. Almost everyone who is significantly overweight or obese has a poor relationship with food, body, and Self.
Surgery doesn’t remove the problem, it removes one symptom of the problem. And the surgery peddlers are doing little to point this out or address this in a relevant manner.
Unless surgery is a life or death issue for you, consider working on the root cause first.
There are even more strategies that could be added to this list. It’s not comprehensive by any means. But these are some of the more popular strategies as of 2017.
The bottom line is that any approach you consider should be practical, sustainable, and based on sound principles. It should protect your relationship with food, body, and Self and you should not be miserable in the process.
The allure of the quick-fix is hard to overcome. If you want to get a body and life you love and maintain your success forever, it’s imperative that you avoid the quick-fix approaches.