Mary James

Understanding The Science Behind How Diets Can Lead To Weight Gain

Pippa Middleton, an English socialite, author and columnist

I grew up with the belief that good health is about moderation in all things.

Pippa Middleton

Nobody said life was fair. After weeks of deprivation on some crazy diet - again - and minimal weight loss - again - you lost control and ate like nuts for a week, and now you’re even fatter. Again... But quit banging your head on your desk for a second and listen.

Pleasure Principle Of Weight Loss

Life doesn't have to be so unfair. Some of the trendiest diet bloggers have recently been talking about the pleasure principle of weight loss. It's quite simple. If you get more pleasure from other things in your life, you can learn to stop obsessing about food.

You may subconsciously think that pleasures like a facial or a holiday or just ten minutes off work are treats you don't deserve because you're not perfect yet. But it's only by learning to give to yourself in ways that don't involve food that you can break the obsessive mind-body patterns that keep you stuck in the dietary cycle of indulgence and penance.

When you're obsessed with deprivation, food is all you think about. There's no better recipe for falling off the wagon. It's like the old cliché: if I told you not to think about a white bear, what would you think about?

9 Tips To Break Sugar Addiction In Days

TIP: When you’re obsessed with depriving yourself, food is all you’ll think about. There’s no better recipe for tumbling off the wagon.

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Giving Yourself Permission

But if I tell you to think about that nice massage you've booked for Thursday, or a walk in the park next time it's nice out, you'll suddenly have a different perspective on your future.

If you're worried that the masseuse will squeeze your muffin top or the people in the park will start at your thighs, I've got a new motto for you:

Stuff 'em if they can’t deal. If they have a problem, they have a problem. Not you.

But they probably don’t. The fact is, most people don’t notice other people much. The massage therapist is probably much more concerned with her enormous nose than she is with your love handles.

And you’re never going to lose weight for good unless you give yourself permission to receive comfort, nurturing, and pleasure in a way that is not self-destructive.

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Diets But In Moderation

Receiving comfort from food is fine, in moderation, like everything else. But using that comfort to punish yourself is as bad for your spirit as it is for your cardiovascular health.

Punitive, restrictive diets and the idea that some foods are angels and others are devils don’t help you lose weight. They only help whoever is selling the diet to make money.

Nine chances out of ten, the model in the ad doesn’t even follow the diet. She’s probably a gym rat with a lucky metabolism, set there with her perfect abs to distract you from how cruel the regime she’s selling will turn out to be.

Diets that restrict carbohydrates, for example, leave you with no energy. How will you train? It will be miserable. You won't stick with it. And exercise is a much more enjoyable and mentally healthy way to lose weight than eating like a bird.

The same goes for low-calorie diets. The diet plans in the magazines are completely insane. No one on earth can function properly until dinner after a 300-calorie lunch, except for infants.

How Diets Make You Gain Weight

TIP: Ditto for low-calorie diets. No one on Earth can function properly till dinner after a 300-calorie lunch, except for toddlers.

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Survival Mode

And although low-fat diets were debunked a decade and a half ago, the grocery stores are still trying to sell you fat-free yogurt. All fatty acids are necessary for the body. And when you skimp on them - especially healthy fats - your brain goes into survival mode.

It’s not your fault when you tear into an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s after a week of this nonsense. If mammals weren’t programmed to feast after a famine, your ancestors would have never survived the Stone Age.

When they say you can't lose 100 pounds in two months in a healthy way, what they really mean is you can't lose it in a mentally healthy way. When your body goes into starvation mode, your mind follows.

The Bottom Line

Feed your mind and weight loss will follow. Maybe not as fast as you'd like, but it will: Life isn't fair and you can't control that. What you can control is how well you treat yourself.

Diets are one of the most popular choices people make when trying to lose weight. They are often marketed as the best way to do it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While some diets may be more effective than others, there is no one diet that is best for everyone.

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Diets can sometimes lead to weight gain instead of weight loss due to several factors. Firstly, overly restrictive diets that severely limit calorie intake can slow down your metabolism, making it harder to burn calories efficiently. Additionally, extreme calorie restriction can trigger binge eating episodes, leading to overconsumption of calories and subsequent weight gain.


Sustainability is a crucial aspect of successful weight management because fad diets or quick-fix approaches are often unsustainable in the long run. When a diet is too restrictive or eliminates entire food groups, it becomes challenging to maintain over time, leading to a cycle of weight loss and regain. Adopting a balanced, sustainable approach to eating habits is key to achieving lasting weight management results.


Restrictive diets that eliminate or severely limit certain food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can have negative impacts on your body. When your body lacks essential nutrients, it may hold onto weight as a survival mechanism or trigger cravings for the missing nutrients, ultimately leading to overconsumption and potential weight gain.


Dieting can be a stressful process, both physically and mentally. When you experience high levels of stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite and promote fat storage, particularly around the abdominal area. Stress can also lead to emotional eating and poor food choices, contributing to weight gain or hindering weight loss efforts.


Some diets advocate for drastic calorie cycling, where you alternate between very low and very high calorie intake days. While this approach may lead to initial weight loss, it can also confuse your metabolism and make it harder for your body to regulate its energy needs efficiently. Over time, this yo-yo pattern of calorie intake can slow down your metabolism and make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.


Instead of relying on traditional dieting approaches, consider adopting a more sustainable lifestyle focused on balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and stress management. This could involve incorporating more whole, nutrient-dense foods into your diet, practicing mindful eating habits, staying hydrated, and finding enjoyable forms of exercise that you can stick to long-term. Additionally, seeking support from a qualified healthcare professional can help you develop a personalized plan that promotes lasting weight management.

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About the Author Mary James

I am passionate about fitness, a healthy lifestyle, cooking, and well-being. This blog is about some of my thoughts that are occupying my mind and spirit daily over the last 10 years and my grand passion – weight loss and fitness, healthy lifestyle and healthy food, mindfulness and self-improvement.

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