Let’s face it. Fad diets are popular. That’s how they become a fad to begin with. And a lot of these diets will actually work for you to some extent. A number of them are even backed by some pretty serious scientific studies. Unfortunately, weight loss studies tend to have one severe limitation that I will discuss here. And for the same reason, even most honest weight loss success stories have serious reliability issues. Forget about scams. I mean even honest and accurate weight loss success stories have their limitations.
The main flaw of weight loss studies and related success stories is the period of time that they cover. You have to understand human nature to understand why the length of time is important.
When someone gets motivated to lose weight and either participates in a weight loss study or buys a book or otherwise starts a weight loss program, that is the exact time that someone is likely to have enough willpower to actually follow a diet plan. This is why people often do see positive short-term results from a weight loss plan or even a fad diet. This is a period of high motivation. In such a period, you are more likely to follow a diet that you don’t actually like. You will often reason that you can sacrifice for now and eat those vegetables because it is only temporary.
However, these same people who start a diet in a period of high motivation don’t always maintain that level of motivation. And this is when they fall off the wagon and start gaining weight again. This could be in a month, 6 months, or even a year.
So there is a good reason you should be careful about reading weight loss success stories. The vast majority of them give examples of short-term results. I have kept my weight off for over a year just on this blog and through all types of experiments. Heck, I even recently improved my results with the snacks-only diet. But I am not even convinced that one year of keeping weight off is enough. But it’s certainly better than the “lost 5 pounds in 3 days” and “lost 20 pounds in a month” stories.
Scientific studies have the same problem. Some of them cover only a few weeks or months of results. There are some better ones where the guinea pigs are tested for 6 months or a year or maybe even more. At least those have a little more reliability. But is even a year enough?
Studies do have other issues, as well. Do the participants try harder on average because they know they are participating in a study? Also, what do average results mean for you? They don’t mean a lot because you could do better or worse than the average. The value of a professional scientific study is to show the potential for a plan to work. It’s still going to be up to you to get at least the average or typical results, and that depends on a lot of factors.
Whatever you say about studies, success stories are typically even less reliable since it is only one person. I fully admit this with my Pentamize system. I have only tracked my results. But the idea of my system is to individualize a diet and exercise plan, NOT to prescribe a rigid set of rules that you may or may not follow.
In short, one of the main reasons fad diets work on a short-term basis is that the dieter is typically in a period of high motivation at the beginning of embarking on this new weight loss journey. But if and when that level of motivation falls, which often happens with rigid diet plans, then the dieter crashes and burns.
Trying to follow a rigid diet plan is not necessarily a good approach to permanent weight loss and maintenance. This is going to depend on whether you can adapt to that system on a permanent basis. Can you envision following that diet plan forever? When creating the Pentamize system, I tried to make it as nonrigid as possible. There is no food you can or cannot eat and no exercise that you must or must not do. Rather, you learn to balance diet and exercise until you find a permanent plan that works for you.