Dieting is the worst way to lose weight. Most people would say I’m crazy for making such an outrageous claim. Is your diet is the most important factor for burning fat and keeping it off? Actually, no. This is a huge misunderstanding.
The big difference between diet and nutrition
This may be semantics, but that’s precisely why diet and nutrition are not the same thing. Think about what connotations – whether positive or negative – come to mind when you think of the word diet?
- Forbidden foods
- Banned food groups
- What you can never eat
- Fads/trends (that pass or come and go in cycles)
- Quick fixes (often unhealthy or dangerous)
The word diet should simply describe the way a person eats. Diet comes from the Latin diaeta meaning way of life. But in today’s technologically advanced, sedentary society; the obesity crisis we’re facing; and the multi-billion dollar dieting industry, the word diet has become tainted.
Today, I think diet carries too much negative baggage. I define diet as any unsustainable change in your eating behavior to try to lose weight. When you say you’re going on a diet, you’re also saying that at some point you’re going off it. While you’re on it, you suffer all those negative associations I mentioned above.
By contrast, think about connotations of the word nutrition. Here’s what I think about:
- Muscle-building protein (amino acids)
- Unrefined foods, closer to their form in nature
A nutrition program is a structured plan you can follow as a lifestyle – a plan that nourishes you with nutritious food and helps you get leaner, stronger, fitter and healthier – and stay that way.
I propose we replace diet with nutrition program unless we are specifically talking about something short term.
- Diet is only one of the elements needed for a leaner, stronger, fitter, and healthier body.
- Dieting might improve your health. On the other hand, depending on your approach, it might destroy your health. Dieting is not always healthy.
- Nutrition and training together is a sure-fire path to health.
- Weight loss diets fail 80-95% of the time because they rarely keep weight off. Most dieters relapse.
- Exercise and an active lifestyle are vital for long term weight loss maintenance.
- The right kind of exercise is also vital for re-shaping your body.
Weight loss vs. body transformation
There’s a world of difference between losing weight and transforming your body. Dieting can’t transform your body, make you stronger or fitter. Only fitness training can accomplish these results. With diets, you might fit into smaller clothes, but you may also become a smaller version of your old self – a skinny, fat person, weighing less, but still flabby and weak.
The muscle loss epidemic
With diet alone, 30 to 50% of your weight loss could come from lean body mass. As you get older, the prospect of losing muscle and strength should genuinely frighten you. After age 50, you lose 1-2% of your lean muscle every year if you do nothing (if you’re not resistance training). After age 60, you lose up to 3% per year.
At 50 or 60 you may be thinking, “A few percent of my lean mass? What’s the big deal? I have no desire to look muscular.” I can understand that. Your goals and values do change as you get older. But I already realize that most people don’t want to look like bodybuilders. However, gaining lean muscle, strength and fitness will improve the quality of anyone’s life. Maintaining the muscle you have must be a priority for everyone. Losing lean mass every year means losing your mobility and independence as you get older.
Stop the diet insanity
Given these facts, it’s sheer insanity that millions of people think about diet as the first solution. They’re asking for deprivation, hunger, missing out on favorite foods, muscle and strength loss, and eventually, loss of independence – putting a burden on other people to take care of them.
The good news is there’s a right way to burn fat and transform your body, but it’s not a one-trick show. You have to put several pieces together. This is total lifestyle change, so it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
- Nutrition program
- Resistance (strength) training
- Cardio Training
- Mental training
Dieting is the worst way to lose weight
Weight loss should not be the goal, but rather burning fat and keeping muscle. Even better, the right goal is to get leaner, stronger, fitter and healthier. Train hard and expect success.
© 2014 Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Transform Your Body Forever Using the Secrets of the Leanest People in the World
Photo source: B-D-S, bigstock.com