The mechanics of losing weight are not actually that complex - you need to balance your calorific intake with your energy expenditure. However, achieving an optimal approach to weight loss is a hotly debated topic due to the complex interplay between your physiology, eating behaviors and cultural food preferences.
In the last thirty years there has been an explosion in the number of diet plans and products that are, more often than not, the same ideas being re-branded under a new name and wrapped in a shiny, new marketing strategy. And most of these diets are not supported by science. For example, there are a number of diets that claim that you can eat as many calories as you want and still lose weight if you avoid fats or carbohydrates (such as the Atkins Diet or Keto Plan), but studies have found this not to be the case. There is also little evidence to support the benefits of diets that recommend avoiding certain food types, like the Paleo Diet, whilst quick detoxes do not seem to do a better job of removing toxins and other harmful substances than your body would otherwise do. And many of the so called “low-fat, healthy” products are actually packed with so many sugars and sweeteners that they are less healthy than their natural, full-fat counterparts.
In turns out that the secret to effective weight loss is to find an approach that you can stick to so that it is no longer a diet… it is just how you eat. There is now a large body of evidence to suggest that the reason most diets do not work is actually because of poor adherence. We start them but we do not stick to them. For the majority, your bad food habits creep slowly back into your lives as we return to your regular routines, lifestyles, activities and environments. But if you can find and maintain a strategy for eating well then you will lose weight over both the short and long term. The challenge is being able to find an approach that helps you make good food choices day in and day out so that they lead to long-term, healthy eating behaviors.
It is also worth noting that there are a number of physiological factors at play that can make losing weight even harder for some people. Your body is a pessimist and so stores any excess calories as fat deposits for a rainy day. If you reduce your calorie intake, your body resists losing weight and instead slows your metabolism down to conserve energy. It also responds to the lower calorie intake by releasing hormones that make you feel hungry, so you get a double whammy of burning fewer calories and feeling hungrier. And then there are genetics. Over fifty percent of the variation in weight between people is determined by your genes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t control your weight, just that certain genes will make it much more likely that some people will be overweight within a given environment. But whilst it may be easier for some people to lose weight than others, we can all achieve your weight management goals if we are able to stick with a strategy of eating well that is customized to your unique body needs and lifestyles.