Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Health

Elyse Kopecky Wants You to Say No to Dieting

Let’s make healthier New Year's resolutions.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

All of us are welcoming in 2021 with high hopes for a really great year. Many of us are setting multiple resolutions to help us achieve all our goals and dreams that we put on the back burner in 2020. If your New Year’s resolution is to get back into shape or you have a weight-loss goal, it’s important to avoid restrictive diets and counting calories. Time and again, research shows that dieting does not work over the long run. The best thing you can do to eat healthier is to cook more and get back in tune with listening to your body’s hunger signals.

Restrictive diets can be pretty enticing with all their promises for weight loss and eternal youth. It’s not surprising that we easily fall victim to the latest diet trend. The $64 billion weight-loss industry is working hard in every media space to get our attention. But the truth is, dieting does not work, and instead can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. In the long term, most dieters regain the weight lost plus a few new pounds.

4 Reasons Diets Don’t Work

There are many compelling reasons why diets don’t work. Here are just a few.

Diets are the Opposite of How the Body Functions

For starters, dieting is counterproductive to how your body functions. The body is constantly working hard to maintain balance, and when we restrict calories, our metabolism outsmarts us and slows down. The body produces stress hormones (like cortisol) in response to less nutrition, and these hormones signal cells to store up reserves, resulting in weight gain. Losing weight also affects the hormone leptin, making us hungrier and hungrier the more weight we lose.

You’re Always Thinking About Food

Dieting also leads to thinking about food around the clock, which doesn’t help keep hunger signals at bay. The mind wants what it can’t have. A month without your favorite foods often leads to binge eating. Instead of completely restricting sweet treats, it’s better to practice moderation.

Restriction Leads to Cravings

Additionally, restricting healthy fats and complex carbs leads to an energy deficiency, which causes sugar cravings. Our bodies end up wanting the quickest fuel source possible, which are simple sugars from refined carbs. And sugar is one of the leading culprits of weight gain.

Related: The Importance of Loving Your Diet

It’s Boring!

Lastly, dieting is simply no fun. Healthy eating should not be restrictive, tiresome, or uninspiring. Nor should healthy eating become obsessive. Food should be celebrated—it nourishes our minds, bodies, and souls. Instead of a diet resolution, commit to cook more in 2021. Delicious and nourishing homemade meals will leave you energized and satiated.

The best place to start is with a hearty breakfast to keep you sustained: Check out my recipe for Savory Steel-Cut Oatmeal topped with a fried egg and sautéed greens.