Published March 23, 2013

Do Diets and Supplements Work?

by Helen M. Ryan
Diets and Supplements - Chain

'Lose 25 pounds this month with NO dieting!'
'Miracle weight loss pill lets you eat whatever you want and still lose weight!'
'Lose weight with this Hollywood star secret'

Let's face it...if all the 'miracle' diets and supplements touted in magazines and rags really worked, wouldn't this be huge news? Wouldn't legitimate doctors, the news media, and health organizations be all over it, especially with the obesity numbers skyrocketing? Wouldn't I be a size minus 4? You betcha!

Virginia, there are no miracles

Very few people want to go hungry, and very few people are willing to give up all of their favorite foods to reach their ideal weight (did someone say chocolate?). Diets that are low carbohydrate, low fat, gluten-free or Paleo—to name a few—all have some good points that they are based on. But because they are so restrictive, very few people can stick to the actual plans and lose weight while on them.

Restrictive diets don't work precisely because they are inflexible

Plus—since we humans are very creative—we find ways to work around the concept of each diet and in essence 'sabotage' it.


Well, when low fat dieting was 'in,' food manufacturers raced to create snack foods that were 'low fat.' Many of these low fat foods had more added sugars and a low nutritional value (remember all those low fat baked goodies?). So instead of eating vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, people packed their 'low fat' diets with reduced fat snack cakes and pastries. (Yup, I've been there, done that, lost no weight.)

The 'low carb' bandwagon gave birth to foods with a reduced 'net carb' value. These foods often increased the fiber to 'subtract' from the final carbohydrate count, and added more chemicals and ingredients to further the 'low net carb' value. So what were we really ingesting? Not sure. All I know is I needed gas-reducing medication after eating some of these foods. And did I/we lose weight by eating them? Nope.

Gluten free is now the rage, and we are starting to see more and more foods made without gluten. So while true gluten free eating excludes any foods containing gluten (bread, bread, bread), gluten free alternatives are being manufactured (a major chemical company is making a compound for bakeries that helps gluten free bread stay fluffy—out of wood pulp. Uhm...).
(Let's also not forget the 'no-nos' in the Paleo diet, the 4-Hour Body diet, the 'eat anything you want for x number of hours and starve x number of hours diet.' Oh, and the green coffee bean extract, raspberry ketones and other miracle weight loss supplements that will help 'melt fat.')

With all these diets, all of these miracle supplements, we are just getting fatter and fatter. What the.....heck?

Because diets don't work in the real world.
What often happens when you diet is shown in the following example (this is where in school you would usually fall asleep, but don't, this time). Let's use gluten free eating as our example. With a gluten free diet, you are not supposed to eat foods that contain gluten. So there you are at a party, and you accidentally eat a couple of crackers. Oops. You have now ingested gluten. Inside your head your thoughts are sabotaging you, shouting, "Hey! You just ate some gluten. You blew it, baby. Now you might as well keep eating and then start your diet again tomorrow." (Substitute gluten for dairy or carbohydrates or fat, or whatever you are trying to avoid,to get the picture.)

This is a terrible, evil cycle that prevents us from losing weight

The base concept of my book (shout out to myself - (21 Days to Change Your Body - woot!) is to eat overall healthily, change your lifestyle,  increase your activity, stop punishing yourself and not to restrict entire foods (unless you have a medical condition, of course).

And—most importantly—not to let one cracker, cookie, cheese slice, or olive derail you.

If you are following one of the stricter diets and you have a tiny slip, just forget about what you just ate. Don't use it as a license to continue eating. Remember, every time we put something in our mouths we have a chance to do something good for our bodies and our health. It doesn't matter what you ate two hours ago. What are you eating now?
Or to put this in terms many of us can relate to:

If you went shopping for a new pair of shoes and had a budget of $19, but you spent $39, would that mean that you 'blew it' budget-wise?

Would you continue to shop, spending $900 instead of $19, and start again with your budget tomorrow?

Kind of silly, huh?