Weight loss programs often fail. There are a variety of reasons weight loss programs fail. As a Certified Nutritionist and Weight Loss Specialist, I’ve helped my clients through many dilemmas on their weight loss journeys.

My rule of thumb is that my weight loss clients should not starve themselves by eating fewer than 1,200 calories per day. Yet, sometimes I see food diaries that reflect only 1,000 calories per day and the client reports that he or she is still not losing weight.

As you can imagine, this is very discouraging for dieters who are exerting a lot of effort and not getting the weight loss they are hoping to achieve. What I do in that instance is examine some of the issues that may be preventing them from succeeding on their weight loss programs.

Factors that Defeat Successful Weight Loss Programs

Here are a variety of reasons weight loss programs fail. Here are a few of the most common from Precision Nutrition.

Reason #1: People often underestimate their calorie intake.

It’s easy to miscalculate how much you’re eating, as it’s usually unintentional. The most typical ways people do it:

  • They underestimate portions. (For example, without precisely measuring “one tablespoon of peanut butter,” it might actually be two, which adds 90 calories each time you do it)
  • They don’t track bites, licks, and tastes of calorie-dense foods. (For example, your kid’s leftover mac and cheese could easily add 100 calories)
  • They don’t record everything in the moment and forget to log it later on
  • They “forget” to count foods they’d wished they hadn’t eaten

Don’t believe this can be a big issue? A landmark study, and repeated follow up studies, found people often underestimate how much they eat over the course of a day, sometimes by more than 1,000 calories.

Reason #2: People overeat on the weekends.

Work weeks can be stressful and when Friday night rolls around, people put their guard down and let loose.

  • Here’s how it goes: Let’s say a person is eating 1,500 calories a day on weekdays, which would give them an approximate 500-calorie deficit.
  • But on the weekends, they deviate from their plan just a little.
  • Drinks with friends and a few slices of late night pizza on Friday
  • An extra big lunch after their workout on Saturday
  • Brunch on Sunday (“Hey, it’s breakfast and lunch, so I can eat double!)
  • The final tally: An extra 4,000 calories consumed between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. They’ve effectively canceled out their deficit, bumping their average daily calories to 2,071.

The upshot: If you have slashed your calories dramatically, but you aren’t seeing the expected results, look for the small slips.

For Successful Weight Loss Programs Focus on Behavior Change

Many diets, including plant-based and keto, aren’t sustainable long-term. This is particularly true of the more restrictive approaches.

And if you believe there’s only one “best diet, you may become frustrated if you aren’t able to stick to it. You may view yourself as a failure and decide you lack the discipline to lose weight. You may even think you should stop trying.

But, the results aren’t diet dependent. They’re behavior dependent.

Maintaining a healthy body (including a healthy body weight) is about developing consistent, sustainable daily habits that help you positively impact “energy in” and “energy out.”

This can be accomplished while enjoying the foods you love, by:

  • Eating until you’re 80% full
  • Eating slowly and mindfully
  • Eating more minimally processed foods
  • Getting more high quality sleep
  • Taking steps to reduce stress and build resilience
  • It’s about figuring out what approach feels sane—and achievable—for you.

Click here to read full article about what undermines successful weight loss programs.