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Diets Don't Work

It's that time of year again: New Year's resolutions, recommitments to health, self-made promises to lose the extra holiday pounds. The weight loss industry is estimated to take in about $60 billion dollars a year in the United States alone. The sad truth is that much of that money is from repeat customers - people who attempt over and over again to get and maintain weight loss results. Despite all this money spent, we are heavier than ever. About 70 percent of adults are overweight.

So what gives?

Diets are too restrictive. If diets worked, then we would not have an obesity epidemic right now. Diets are designed to be followed for a short period of time and people go into them with exactly that mind-set. Following a diet may offer temporary results, but without lifestyle changes and a sustainable long term strategy, the results do not last.

Diets do not address an underlying cause of weight gain. We are exposed to about 4 billion pounds of chemical compounds that are released into the environment each year. Some of these chemicals can be classified as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, or EDCs. An EDC binds to hormone receptors and turns signaling on or off. We know that many EDCs are fat soluble. This means that the more fat you have in your body, the more chemicals you store or hold onto. These chemicals continue to influence your health and contribute to weight gain, weight loss resistance, inflammation, reproductive issues, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, muscle weakness and chronic fatigue.

If your diet helps you shed a few pounds and get into a fat-burning state, all the toxins that were stored in your fat cells get dumped right into your circulation. This sudden influx of toxins can overwhelm the liver and increase systemic inflammation. Weight loss will often plateau and/or you will feel terrible. Starting on a diet without properly supporting the detoxification process is like throwing all your garbage out onto the lawn instead of in the garbage bin.

Diets do not address chronic inflammation. While it is true that weight loss itself can help decrease inflammation in some people, intentional anti-inflammatory measures are often lacking in most weight loss diet plans. Inflammation can be both a cause AND a result of weight gain. Fat cells can release inflammatory chemicals - the more fat you have, the more inflammatory chemicals are released. As a result, inflammation smolders and further perpetuates a vast array of associated conditions such as insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.

Diets often cause stress rather than reduce it. Let's face it. We love food. We often take pride in the foods we love - they can be part of our identity. Overhauling your eating plan to follow a restrictive diet can be manageable for a short time, but it is unlikely to be successful in the long term. Finding new ways to cook, shop, eat and learning to enjoy new foods is hard. If you liked the foods on a "diet plan," then you would already be eating them.

Diets cannot change your genetics. Genes can account for about 10 to 30 percent of obesity. Although it is true that you are not a prisoner of your genes, there are genetic tendencies that can affect both weight gain and weight loss resistance.

Genetics can determine how well you detox, if you create more inflammatory fat, have difficulty using fat as an energy source, how well you repair your DNA and your general inflammatory response. Understanding your genetics and designing a lifestyle plan that helps address these physiological challenges can help you get and maintain the results you are looking for.

So, if diets don't work, what does?

  1. We recommend launching a weight loss journey with a metabolic detox. Not all detox programs are the same. We have seen many detox programs from many reputable companies, but our favorite is the 10-Day Dynamic Detox program. This kit comes with a Program Guide with recommended foods, but we also really like combining it with the Mediterranean Diet. Some individuals will start to lose weight during the detox, and this is a bonus. What we find is that starting off with the detox will help you get better results and feel better as you begin to establish a new lifestyle and eating strategy. This 10-Day well-rounded program provides key nutrients to improve cellular function, decrease inflammation, improve mood and help rebalance the microbial environment in your gut.

  2. We highly recommend Health Coaching. If you have been on and off your weight loss journey, having someone in your corner is essential to get you through to the other side. We see so many people that live in a household where they are the only one making lifestyle changes. Even if you are lucky enough to have support at home, learning how to get out of your own way can be hard. A good health coach should challenge you to identify your barriers to success and help you make small, sustainable changes that will lead you on a path toward success.

  3. We encourage you to take a deep dive into .... you. Part of why so many weight loss programs are not successful in the long term is that they do not challenge you to discover what is really going on in your body. This can be hard stuff to sort through and it can take some time.  Weight management issues are generally a symptom of a problem before they become the problem itself. Examining hormone balance, gut balance, thyroid balance, metabolic markers and genetics can help you learn how to work with your body instead of against it.

What about weight loss medications instead of a diet?

We are often asked about our thoughts on weight loss medications. Every individual needs to get on a plan that will help them succeed. Sometimes, lifestyle changes can be all that it takes for an individual to get results. Other times, people can have all their hormones balanced and inflammation under control and still nothing is moving on the scale.

We do not support weight loss medication with no lifestyle change - after all, we believe in promoting longevity and disease prevention. However, there is a time and a place for short term use of medications to kickstart a weight loss journey for some people.

Our final recommendation is for you to find an approach that helps you feel successful, encourages you to find strategies for effective stress management, and allows you an opportunity to truly understand your body.


  1. Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body, by Dr. Robert Silverman

  2. Goldman RH et al. The occupational and environmental health history. 1981 Dec 18;246(24):2831-6. Nelson et al. 2011.

  3.  Why Metabolic Detox Is Not Just a Fad by Deanna Minich, PhD

  4.  The Savvy Health-Seeker’s Introduction to Detox Thomas Sult, M.D. and Pamela DeLoatch,

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