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The Benefits Of Coaching And Accountability For Long – Term Diet Success

You might’ve noticed that gyms are typically super packed in January each year before the crowd dies down in February. So most people quit their diet and lifestyle changes in 4 - 6 weeks.

Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
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Also, studies show that among people who lose weight, only 20% manage to keep it off for at least a year. In the long term, after 3 years, 97% of dieters regain the lost weight and then some. Expert coaching and accountability could account for both the short and long-term success of this 3%. 

Why Most Diets Fail, And How Coaching And Accountability Can Transcend These Reasons

No Personalized Regimens

All of our bodies are very different and therefore we respond to stimuli differently. Keeping this in mind, a single dietary plan may not work for different people. Individuals should seek personalized advice and nutritional regimens that work best for their body and metabolism.

Losing Weight Too Quickly Or Following Unsustainable Diets

Dieting too quickly can backfire. It is one of the top reasons why most diets fail and result in rebound fat gain. The faster you lose your body fat, the stronger the body’s anti-starvation response is. 

A mid adult male personal trainer helps an active senior man use hand weights

If you are on a prolonged caloric deficit for months without diet breaks, your metabolism will adapt to this regimen and your results will eventually slow down. This is why you should incorporate diet breaks to let your body know it is safe, and to refill the energy reservoirs.

Furthermore, unsustainable diets might work in the short term, but are not enough to maintain results in the long run. If you are giving up the foods you love, or if you are too hungry,  the diet you’re following might not be right for you. It is almost impossible to maintain such a diet in the long term, leading to diet failure. 

Protein And Micronutrient Deficiencies

One of the biggest predictors of long-term weight loss is your muscle mass. Therefore, during your weight loss journey, it is important to maintain your muscle mass. You can do this with adequate protein intake and resistance training. Proteins also help keep you satiated. So, not eating enough protein may also prevent you from obtaining your desired fat loss results. 

The protein dosages necessary to maintain muscle mass and recover from resistant training are much higher than the RDA doses. Studies show that an intake of 1.6 – 2.2 g/kg bodyweight/day or 0.72 – 1.0 g/lb bodyweight/day divided across multiple meals can help you maintain muscle mass during caloric deficit. 

A man serving his protein shake out of the blender

Other nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to cravings and hunger, making it harder to stick to a diet and easier to regain weight. For example, correcting magnesium and omega-3 deficiencies may help with weight loss and maintaining results.

Low-Quality Sleep

Low-quality or lack of sleep will make your weight loss journey much harder. It increases muscle loss and lowers fat loss. Sleep deprivation also increases cravings, robs you of willpower, and lowers your immune function.

One study investigated the role of insufficient sleep during weight loss regimens. 10 overweight individuals participated, half slept 8.5 hours and the other half slept 5.5 hours per night for two weeks. 

The group that slept for 5.5 hours per night lost 55% less fat mass and 60% more muscle mass than the 8.5 hours of sleep per night group. Furthermore, the 5.5 hours of sleep group showed enhanced adaptation to burning less calories in response to caloric restriction. They also became hungrier and had stronger cravings.

Sufficient and high-quality sleep is therefore essential for weight loss. 

Lack Of Progress Tracking

One of the main issues with long-term weight loss and accountability is lack of progress tracking. Tracking is not really necessary when it comes to short-term plans, but it is essential for long-term regimens.

This does not mean that you literally have to calculate every calorie you eat. You can incorporate weekly progress pictures, charts, or tables. This way, you will be able to see how much you’ve improved, and potentially detect some aspects of your regimen that do not suit you. 

A shot of a person journaling and tracking their habits

One study was done on 276 overweight individuals divided into three groups – tracking via smartphone, via groups, and no tracking. Participants tracked dietary intake, weight, and physical activity daily. Monthly checkups in terms of weight and adherence showed how self-monitoring affected the weight loss journey that month. 

More frequent self monitoring correlated with better weight loss outcomes during each month. The group accountability participants lost the most weight.

That means tracking your progress and having someone to report to can significantly improve your results and boost your likelihood of success.

Losing Mental Vigilance

Mental vigilance is crucial for long-term weight loss maintenance. When most people reach their target weight, they start losing mental vigilance and go back to their old habits. However, this is when you need it the most.

It is very easy to abandon dietary and physical plans after you achieve your goals. This leads to weight regain and finding yourself back at square one. 

This is why we immediately help our clients work on the next goal (which could be maintenance) once they achieve one goal. 

Coaching And Accountability For Long-Term Weight Loss

A study examined the prevalence of significant weight loss in 47,515 women. The research focused on self-reported weight, diet, exercise, and unhealthy habits. 

The results showed that women who lost ≥5% of their weight in the first 2 years gained additional weight after 4 years. These women gained less weight than their peers who did not experience weight loss.

Another study on long-term maintenance of weight loss in obese individuals who lost at least 5% of their body weight. Participants reported their weight, height, health status, and overall behavior towards healthy habits.

Out of all participants, only 6% maintained their weight loss in the long term. 

This trend happens because numerous factors cause people to abandon their healthy habits. These factors may include:

  • Choosing the wrong diet for themselves due to lack of individualized plan for their preferences, genetics, and lifestyle
  • Not knowing how to overcome temptations, setbacks, or plateaus
  • Lack of sleep, and unaddressed nutrient deficiencies or health issues make it hard to stick to their plans

Among the 3% who do succeed, many commonly hire coaches, nutritionists, and other professionals to significantly increase their odds of success. Nevertheless, long-term weight loss maintenance is quite rare.

What Is Coaching And Accountability? 

A nutritional and fitness coach helping a young adult

Nutritional coaching refers to an expert guiding you towards healthy behaviors. Coaches also keep you on track with your measurements and adjust your lifestyle and diet based on your needs and progress. They use positive psychology and encourage you to maintain your mindset for a healthy lifestyle, despite setbacks. They also help identify roadblocks or factors interfering with your progress, so you can address those factors. 

Studies have shown that nutritional coaching is beneficial, especially for the majority of dieters who struggle to achieve and maintain their results long-term. In other words, coaching and accountability help you overcome the pitfalls above.

One study involved an obese patient that had undergone various diet regimens, but with no success. After 12 coaching sessions, the patient lost body weight and fat mass, and succeeded in maintaining the nutritional and physical activity habits. 

Another study also focused on the importance of coaching in weight loss (and maintenance) of 1432 participants. These individuals lost an average of 5% of their weight in 6 months. Nutritional coaching involved one-on-one sessions, classes, and food logs. These three factors showed to be extremely important for weight loss. Session and class attendance of more than 80% significantly correlated with weight loss, while lower attendance showed less weight loss.

On the other hand, accountability also matters. Accountability refers to the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions, both positive and negative. In this case, it means communicating with another person what your goals are so they can keep you accountable. This person could be a coach, a loved one, or a fellow health seeker who’s on a similar journey as you. 

They can keep you accountable both for taking actions and your progress. Action goals may include drinking more water, eating more vegetables, or portion control. Whereas, progress goals may include inches or pounds loss, or specific changes in body composition. 

Most people are more likely to stay accountable to another person than to themselves. So, in weight loss journeys, accountability can significantly increase your odds of success. You can do this by keeping records of what you eat, having a partner or a support group to keep track of your successes, challenging yourself, and even doing progress pictures. 

One study investigated the general adherence rates to different weight loss plans. The results showed that:

  1. Average adherence rate for all weight loss plans is slightly more than 60%.
  2. Supervised programs (coaching) increase adherence by 8%.
  3. Programs that involve social support groups increase adherence by 37%.
  4. Individuals tend to stick to dietary plans more than to exercise plans.

Therefore, if your goal is to succeed with weight loss or any lifestyle changes long-term, coaching and accountability is key.

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