Studies have confirmed that long-term weight loss maintenance is extremely rare. For the last few decades, only 3% have been able to achieve their weight loss goals long-term. Our observation shows that 3% are extremely driven people that usually go “all in.” This usually includes hiring coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and psychologists, maximizing success odds.
By avoiding certain common mistakes and doing the opposite, you will multiply your odds of success.
Let’s dive into the 15 most common reasons people fail with their weight loss goals.
1. Not Ensuring The Body Feels Safe
The fundamental reason for almost all weight loss failures: putting your body in a starvation survival mode. This often happens when dieting too quickly, failing to do diet breaks or refeeds.
Strategically using these makes all the difference in the world for extended fat loss journeys. It’ll take longer to hit your ultimate goal, but avoiding putting your body into starvation survival mode can minimize the chance of rebound for life. “Playing the tape forward” is a valuable mental process you can use in various ways to get you out of your short-term desires.
2. Following An Unsustainable Diet
“Unsustainable Diets” take many shapes and forms:
- Are you giving up foods you love?
- Are you forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t enjoy?
- Are you too hungry?
- Are you nutrient deficient?
- Is it psychologically or spiritually unaligned with you?
If you choose to do an unsustainable diet, just ensure you’ve got another dietary strategy lined up after it. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for guaranteed failure.
To be successful FOR LIFE, you must find a nutritional philosophy that you can follow FOR LIFE.
One important factor to keep in mind: what is unsustainable today might become your favorite way to eat tomorrow.
3. Not Resolving Underlying Emotional Traumas And Issues
Most overweight people use food as a drug. Food has drug-like effects both on dopamine and serotonin. People with food issues use food to escape their emotional pain or boredom.
Addressing traumas from your nervous system is just as important as eliminating Ben and Jerry’s from your freezer.
While major events can result in “Big Traumas,” virtually everyone carries hundreds of what experts call “Little Traumas.” But unfortunately, most people don’t learn to process small and big traumas as they happen.
Unprocessed traumas drive reactivity, escapism, resentments, fear, anger, and other destructive behaviors like emotional eating.
Check out our stress and trauma article to learn how to address and process the traumas.
4. Not Tracking Food Calories And Macros, Sleep, And Exercise
Can you lose weight without measuring food and tracking calories? YES, especially early on.
However, most people underestimate the calories they’re eating by 40%. And then they wonder why they’re not losing weight.
You can unconsciously “sneak in” calories in various ways: a handful of nuts here… a tablespoon of peanut butter there… a piece of chocolate after dinner, etc. (NOTE: unconscious eating is one of the body’s Starvation Survival Effects).
If they’re part of your plan, there’s nothing wrong with those things, but those “little snacks” can become the difference between losing weight and becoming stuck.
So if your goal is to move to a Super Human level of aesthetics or bust through a plateau, we strongly suggest outsourcing the diet design to an expert and tracking your calories. Hire a coach or nutritionist that simply does the math for you and tells you what to eat. Another option is meal prep companies that do all the measuring for you.
5. No Coaching Or Accountability In Place
This might sound surprising, but: you CAN’T trust yourself when it comes to keeping yourself accountable in your weight loss journey. Why?
Two primary reasons:
- First, the odds of creating the right strategy are low unless you’re a deep expert.
- Second, your starvation self-defense mechanisms can easily override your conscious mind. This is the big one, even for people like Matt and Wade.
Even though we’re deep experts, we don’t trust ourselves to keep accountable like an outside authority can. Why? Because:
- We can create easier training plans (i.e., not include things like squats and deadlifts).
- We can resist cutting calories when we need to.
- We can slide totally off course when we “slip,” meaning if we have a bad day or week, do we have a coach to refocus us?
- We can fail to add new things to keep results flowing (like adding in a second workout).
We’re no exceptions. Despite being experts in this field, we hire coaches to help design our diets. Why? Because we don’t trust our minds when it comes to losing weight. We know starvation self-defense can play tricks on our minds, with different effects from person to person. The Diet Boogeyman is real.
To overcome this, GET A COACH… a good one that you bond with, support, and know what they’re doing.
One of the most powerful success principles is: to stack every advantage you can. Coaching and accountability are the most powerful advantages anyone can have. A great coach will help motivate you, solve your problems, and create a great strategy.
6. Low-Quality Sleep
Poor sleep will make you fatter, lose muscle, destroy your willpower, be in a horrible mood, and crash your immune system.
Low-quality sleep makes losing weight multiple times harder. Your hunger hormones increase, your cravings increase, you start burning lean muscle mass instead of body fat, your willpower goes down, and your fat-burning hormones (HGH and testosterone) go down.
Great sleep is one of the biggest “make or break” factors for anyone trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, trying to lose weight while your sleep quality is poor is like entering an ass-kicking contest with a broken leg. It’s tough.
7. Not Addressing Other Health Problems
You could call this one an indirect cause of diet failure. The right diet will make you HEALTHIER.
Other underlying health problems such as hormonal issues, thyroid issues, gut issues, fatty liver, and much more can make losing body fat and being healthy a tough journey.
If your thyroid function drops too much, weight loss will become difficult, if not impossible.
If your body isn’t producing enough testosterone and growth hormones, your metabolism will slow down, and your athletic performance will drop.
The point here is: make being HEALTHY a primary goal and a guiding light for your “Me Diet”.
8. Losing Mental Vigilance
Loss of mental vigilance is one of the main causes of long-term dietary failures. Once you lose mental vigilance, it’s the beginning of the end.
The most important part of your weight loss journey starts AFTER you’ve achieved your goal.
That’s when the Starvation Survival Effects start kicking in. Hunger usually goes into overdrive. Motivation can drop massively after achieving an important goal.
When working towards a goal or achieving a milestone, your body releases dopamine, the reward and motivation neurotransmitter. It keeps you moving forward. But when the goal is reached, dopamine drops.
This is when you need a great strategy to:
- Intelligently reverse diet out of the deficit without regaining weight
- Find the ultimate sustainable lifestyle
- Create new goals that will keep you focused
Again, a great coach will help you with all of the above.
The point is: never drop your guard. Weigh yourself EVERY DAY. Studies on people that lost weight confirm those that were able to keep it off weigh themselves daily.
Get a body fat scan once or twice a year. Take pictures regularly. Join health communities. Get blood work twice a year. Hire coaches. Get accountability buddies. Find fun workout partners.
9. Not Following The Right Diet For You
Diet fanatics are often so dogmatic about the diet that works for them that they force it on all their clients and social media followers. There is little to no consideration for individual needs.
Genetics, lifestyle, microbiome, preferences, and more influence your nutritional needs. We believe the best diet should be individualized taking all of these into account.
Without individualization, this often forces square pegs into a round hole. Working against your genes will always be an uphill battle.
Check out our article on the pyramid of nutritional decisions for more on this topic.
10. Chemical Overload
Rodent studies showed that it only takes one endocrine disruptor to cause obesity, even though the animal eats the same amount of food.
Thousands of obesogenic chemicals are lurking in your home, office, air, food, and products you put on your skin. Studies found these substances in human blood, sweat, urine, and fat cells.
These man-made chemicals can elevate your metabolic setpoint by:
- Disrupting the functions of sex hormones, thyroid, leptin, and insulin
- Causing prolonged low-grade chronic inflammation
- Increasing micronutrient use and excretion, which may cause or worsen deficiencies
- Inhibiting digestive and cellular enzyme activity
- Throwing off your gut biome
These changes can contribute to obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, autism, infertility, and even mental health disorders.
Therefore, if your goal is to be biologically optimized and achieve long-term results, you must actively work on detoxifying your body and lowering your toxic burden, including in your food, your body, and your environment.
11. Poor Digestion
Poor digestion is another indirect contributor to dietary failures because:
- It prevents you from feeling your best
- It’s linked to enzyme deficiencies, low stomach acid, and an unhealthy gut flora
- More undigested food particles can stimulate the immune system and feed bad bacteria, leading to inflammation, food allergies, and food sensitivities
- You may feed yeasts, parasite, and bad bacteria overgrowth causing cravings
- Protein and amino acid fermentation can often generate inflammatory or toxic metabolites.
Powermove: Optimize your digestion with enzymes, probiotics, and HCL. When your digestion is optimized, you feel great, have more energy, and be more excited to keep going.
13. Leaky Gut, Food Sensitivities, And Food Allergies
Being biologically optimized is critical for feeling your best. That’s why removing foods that are toxic and stressful to your body is important.
One person’s “superfood” is another person’s toxin. However, some powerful tests will reveal your superfoods.
One of the biggest drivers of chronic diseases is “metabolic endotoxemia,” or being intoxicated by toxins from bacterial cell walls. A leaky gut, caused by the modern diet, lifestyle, and dysbiosis, can lead to metabolic endotoxemia.
Many common foods in the modern diet can open up the gut barrier, such as:
- Gluten can activate the zonulin pathway and open up the gut barrier, even in non-celiacs
- Industrial food additives, such as food texturizers
- Excess amounts of sugar or salt
- Casein from A1 milk causing digestive issues and partially digested peptides can be absorbed into the blood.
If you have a perfectly healthy gut, it should be able to recover from these just fine. However, in someone with suboptimal health, a leaky gut can expose undigested food and bacteria toxins to the immune system for low-grade inflammation and dysbiosis. They then develop food sensitivities, allergies, and metabolic endotoxemia, causing more inflammation.
The inflammation leads to leptin resistance and many modern ailments. A leptin-resistant brain is a starved brain in a fat body. It cannot sense that your body is well-fed, so you continue to be hungry while your hypothalamus reduces all non-essential energy expenditures.
In other words, diets that don’t remove sources of inflammation and repair leaky guts tend to not produce sustainable results for these people.
14. Nutrient Deficiencies
Many diets can lead to a variety of nutrient deficiencies unless they’re properly designed. The shortcoming can compromise your metabolism or cause excessive hunger or cravings.
Common cravings include amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids.
15. Losing Too Much Lean Muscle Tissue
This is one of the biggest problems with many people’s overall weight loss approach. They don’t have the right strategy to preserve their vital lean muscle tissue as they lose weight.
Why is that so important?
Because lean muscle tissue has the following key benefits:
- Makes you look better: Having muscles look better and is anti-aging. Even if you’re not so lean that you look shredded, muscles provide a structure underneath to give you beautiful curves.
- It Helps Store Glucose: Muscles are fantastic carb storage units. The more muscles you carry, the more glycogen you can store (carbs that have been broken down). This helps prevent blood sugar-related health problems.
- It Increases Your Basal Metabolic Rate: Meaning you have a faster metabolism. Each pound of fat-free weight has been calculated to use about 8 to 15 calories per day.
- Muscles Are Vital For Movement: Whether you’re a professional athlete or an older person, muscles are what allow you to move in the world. And when you get older, they prevent falls and can save your life.
Achieving long-term success on any diet isn’t east. Maximize your odds of success by stacking every advantage possible.
Now that we have listed 15 most common reasons your weightloss goals might be unattainable, our hope is that you will commit to becoming the healthiest version of yourself not just to achieve these goals short term but for the rest of your life from this day forward.
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