10 Reasons Why Diets Fail – and What You Can Do About It

February 20, 2020
why diets fail

An average of 50% of people on diets fail, and you’re not totally to blame. Here’s why…

Everyone starts a new diet fully committed and ready to jump in with both feet. But – depending on which study you read – an average of 50 percent of people are no longer on their diet a year later and haven’t met their weight loss goal. So, why do diets fail so often?

In the past 40 years, I have helped thousands upon thousands of individuals lose weight, feel great, and meet their goals. But first, I had to help remove every stumbling block that stood in the way. A lot of that comes along with having a well-designed, tried-and-true plan for you to stick to, but that’s not all there is to it!

So, today, let’s set you up for diet success.

First, let’s go over the Top Ten Reasons Why Diets Fail, and then I’ll share what really works to keep you on track for your long-term health and weight loss goals.

Top Ten Reasons Why Diets Fail


1. It Doesn’t Fit Your Lifestyle

You’re tired of feeling fat, unattractive, unhealthy, and fatigued all the time. You want to love your body but you just can’t seem to get there. So you do something drastic – after all it’s a new year, so it’s time for the new you, right?

You change every single thing about your life that you feel is contributing to your problems. Gone is every familiar comfort food from the pantry and refrigerator, and it’s all replaced with foods you’ve never heard of and you normally wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole if given the choice. You spend hours learning how to do meal prep and cook with these new exotic ingredients that don’t follow any of the culinary rules your grandma taught you.

All of this sudden change is like being a stranger in a strange land. You have to learn an entirely new cuisine, and you may be learning to cook for the first time, all in a very sincere effort to get your health back and feel good about yourself. But is it realistic, and do you have time for it all? For most of us it’s too much change all at once and it isn’t long before we crave our old comfortable, familiar lifestyle and fall back into patterns that got us to where we didn’t want to be.

2. It Doesn’t Fit Your Physiology

I’m climbing onto my soapbox for a minute here, for a very good reason. Male bias in medicine and nutrition is still alive and well and is NOT getting women any healthier. Not only are most doctors, scientists, researchers, and many diet gurus men – but most of the cells, animals, and people studied in medical and nutritional science are also male.

Countless women have come to me for help after this scenario: “I did their diet exactly as they taught it to me and kept a detailed food diary showing everything I ate and drank during that time, and I didn’t lose an ounce. On top of that, my health care provider accused me of under reporting and said I must’ve been too embarrassed to admit how much I really ate because the diet should’ve worked.”

And why didn’t it work? Often, the studies showing the effectiveness of their diet were based on research only on men. For instance, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial – known ironically as MR.FIT which looked at dietary interventions to prevent heart disease and has been the basis for most of the “heart healthy” diets – was a study done on 13,000 men. Even though the FDA and National Institutes of Health mandated the inclusion of women in clinical trials in 1993, the research has rarely been analyzed by sex or gender, and the researchers had to revise their guidelines in 2016 to include female animals and cells to continue receiving funding.

When it comes to medicine and nutrition, even though women make up a large percentage of the market’s consumers, we are largely a mystery. We are understudied, under treated and misdiagnosed (or undiagnosed) for a myriad of underlying health conditions that cause weight gain. Then, when our experiences don’t match the research, we are to blame. Our hormones are considered a nuisance because their variability changes the results.

In contrast to many of the thirty-something year old men who are currently dominating the diet and nutrition arena, I urge you to consider taking sage advice from someone like me, who has successfully helped women lose weight for more than 4 decades now, and understands the dietary pitfalls specific to us!

3. Hormone Havoc Halts Your Weight Loss

The hormonal fluctuations that happen during monthly cycles and over the course of our lives can make it more challenging to lose weight. Some hormone changes cause bloating, which looks like you’ve gained weight, but it’s only temporary and needs to be handled differently from traditional weight gain. When hormones are deficient, fat cells step in and manufacture those much-needed hormones, so your body won’t give up that extra weight until your hormones are plentiful and back in balance again.

Hormone havoc doesn’t just happen with your sex hormones. Stress hormones, thyroid hormones, and blood sugar balancing hormones can all be thrown out of whack, adding more pieces to the puzzle of your weight gain. Diet alone won’t correct these imbalances. You may need saliva hormone testing for stress and sex hormones, or blood testing for your thyroid, insulin, and leptin levels.

4. You Have Hidden Food Sensitivities

During times of stress, your intestinal lining becomes more porous, allowing whole proteins to pass through into your bloodstream, causing irritation and inflammation. Sometimes this is temporary, but when the stress continues, it turns into what we call Leaky Gut, and your body develops sensitivities to certain foods. The inflammation from eating these trigger foods can stall your weight loss. Doing some detective work and going on an elimination diet can help you find the offending foods and get your weight loss back on track.

5. You’re on the Diet Rollercoaster

If you tend to go and off of diets regularly, binge eat, or frequently eat foods off your plan, you may be sabotaging your own weight loss. This diet rollercoaster leads to a stalled metabolism and limits your weight loss results. You have to be consistent with your intake to reset your metabolism. Then you need to stick to the plan you’re on if you want the results the plan offers, or find another plan that is better suited to your needs and lifestyle.

6. You’re Not Eating Enough Calories

One diet does not fit all. When you have a faster metabolism, are under chronic stress, have an illness or disease, or simply have more weight, your body has a greater need for nutrient dense calories, and it may surpass the plan you’re following. And some diets deliberately go so low in calories it induces a type of starvation mode, which can backfire and cause you to hold onto every calorie you get. In this situation, simply increasing your caloric intake will restart your fat burning and help you start losing weight again.

7. You’re Eating Too Much

You may be following a plan that doesn’t take into consideration your small frame or your sluggish metabolism. As a result, you’re getting more calories in than your body needs for optimal health. While counting calories shouldn’t be the main focus of a successful diet, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind when you’re choosing a plan.

8. You Are Dieting Without Detoxing

This is such a core tenet of every plan I’ve ever developed that I feel like I should walk around carrying a sign with big letters that says, “NO DIET WITHOUT DETOX.” It simply doesn’t work to try to lose weight without supporting your body’s detoxification. This is the hallmark principle of my bestselling Fat Flush plan and why it works so well.

Your fat cells store all the toxins your overworked liver and colon are unable to process and eliminate from your body. These fat cells then swell with fluid to dilute the toxins to keep them from making you sick. Without detox, you may lose some of the water weight and may even flush a few fat cells, but as long as the toxins remain, you’ll regain that fat and your weight won’t budge.

You should feel healthier and have more energy as you lose weight. If not, this is a sign you’re not eliminating the toxins that are circulating from the fat cells being flushed, and you need to detox. Honestly, just living in our world today where toxins abound in our air, water, and food, you need to make daily detox as much of a priority as your diet if you want your weight loss – and health – to last.

9. You Have a Disease That Slows Your Metabolism

If you have autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, adrenal fatigue, or other inflammatory diseases that make your metabolism sluggish, your weight loss will take more time. Other things that can cause a sluggish metabolism include prescription medications, stress, and over-exercising.

This is when slow and steady wins the race. Your body needs more nourishing, nutrient dense foods and rest. Your exercise should be light to moderate. You also likely need nutritional supplements to give your body the boost it needs to be able to let go of some weight.

Doing the detective work to uncover hidden causes and listening to your body through the process of your lifestyle changes is what will make all the difference with your weight loss and overall health. This is precisely why I created my Radical Metabolism plan. People who are slow losers with a sluggish metabolism or other underlying diseases need a fine-tuned plan like Radical Metabolism that takes the specific nutrient needs of your cells into consideration, in order to heal as you detox and lose the weight.

10. You Get Discouraged

When you hit a weight loss plateau or have hidden roadblocks standing in your way that keep you from losing weight in the first place, it can feel so disheartening to try so hard and not see the results. It’s hard to see others having the success you want while following the same diet, and sometimes the process of figuring out what’s going on can seem like too much. But, please, don’t give up!

It helps to have a good understanding of the program you’re doing and a good support group. Sometimes the program is reducing inflammation and preparing your body to lose weight, and sometimes you only lose the water weight, which I call “false fat.”

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people who feel discouraged while following one of my plans, and when I encourage them to measure inches instead of pounds, they’re shocked to find they’re losing clothing sizes while staying the same weight for a time. My best advice is to choose a plan like Fat Flush or Radical Metabolism that offers online support, and find success stories of people similar to you and pattern yourself after them.

Set Yourself Up for Long Term Weight Loss Success

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “People who fail to plan, plan to fail.” With dieting, this is especially true. Get to know the plan you are considering committing to, and you will eliminate most of the dietary pitfalls that are so common. You’ll know if it fits your lifestyle and physiology, has the flexibility to fit your calorie and health needs, and can accommodate your specific food choices.

Rather than choosing a plan based on what your friends or family are doing, choose the plan that fits you best, and invite others to follow your lead. Get involved in whatever support resources the plan has to offer. For my Fat Flush family of plans, I have the Fat Flush Nation support group on Facebook, and for my Radical Metabolism plan, I have the Radical Metabolism Revolution Facebook group. In both of these groups, I have nutritionists on my staff who know the plans inside and out, and are active in the groups every day to give you the support you need to succeed.

Before you even start on your new diet plan, set yourself up for success. Equip your kitchen with everything you’ll need, prepare a shopping list, order any necessary protein powders and nutritional supplements, and make sure you have time in your schedule for whatever meal prep needs to be done.

Lastly, make sure the weight loss goals you have set for yourself are SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. Realistic, measurable goals are essential to keeping yourself motivated and encouraged on your journey, and help you identify any problems before they become a roadblock to your success.

What weight loss roadblocks have you been able to overcome? Post a comment below and share what worked for you!

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!



  1. 10 Reasons Why Diets Fail – and What You Can Do About It – Detox Tutor - […] post 10 Reasons Why Diets Fail – and What You Can Do About It appeared first on Ann Louise…

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