Why diet plans don’t work for weight loss

Written by: Kristy Maskell BSc
Reviewed by: Rachel White, RD

Many people opt for following diet plans in their quest to lose weight. From detox plans to juice diets, there are always emerging dieting trends. In fact, globally, 44% of people are currently trying to lose weight by reducing their food intake. But, what if we were to say diet plans are not the solution for long-term sustainable weight loss? Read on to understand why diet plans don’t work for weight loss, and what other options may help instead. 

Are diet plans just a quick fix? 

Research suggests diet plans often do not produce significant weight loss over a long period of time, instead, they may provide a ‘quick fix’.1 Initial weight loss can occur when using diet plans, which is commonly attributable to extreme caloric restriction.2 This caloric restriction may induce a loss of lean muscle mass and fluid loss rather than body fat.3 Weight regain is common after following diet plans, and can cause a vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain.4

Why diet plans don’t work for weight loss: From quick fixes to health risks

Often, diet plans are not backed by scientific evidence, these may be referred to as fad diets. Fad diets can make health-related claims that defy the fundamental principles of nutrition and biochemistry. 

Diet plans and fad diets can promote a ‘one size fits all approach’. But, as we know, everybody has individual preferences and lifestyles, all of which should be taken into account when undergoing a weight loss intervention.5 Without consideration of other health conditions, there may also be a risk of further health consequences.6 

Sustainable, life-long habits

Think of weight loss like paying off a debt. You may pay off your debt in small increments, but not all at once, as this would be unrealistic. Sustainable, life-long habits will help you independently make changes to aid your overall health. It can help you develop the skills and confidence to manage your lifestyle and improve your understanding of health as a whole. In fact, weight loss maintenance may get easier with time, with research suggesting those who have effectively maintained weight loss over 2-5 years are more likely to achieve long-term success.7 

How can a dietitian help me lose weight? 

At Fresh Approach Nutrition, we understand how hard it is to follow strict dietary regimes. A registered dietitian can help you create sensible, realistic, and achievable weight loss goals – all without going on a diet. 

Creating achievable weight loss goals, supported by a registered dietitian, may look like:

  • Taking a holistic approach to look at your lifestyle as a whole
  • Tailoring dietary advice to suit your individual preferences 
  • Allowing you to independently make healthy changes 
  • Helping you identify your barriers to change, whether it is a lack of inspiration or a hectic job

Whether you have tried everything or are at the start of your weight loss journey, book your free discovery call today. You will be supported by Rachel, a weight loss specialist and registered dietitian, who will provide a safe space to help you reach your weight loss goals. 

Disclaimer: This content is purely informational and should not replace professional medical advice. Please seek advice from a qualified health professional, like us or your GP, if you are wanting evidence-based advice for weight loss. 


  1. Andersen JW, Vichitbandra S, Qian W, Kryscio RJ. Long-term weight maintenance after an intensive weight-loss programme. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Dec;18(6):620-627. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10613414/
  2. Obert J, Pearlman M, Obert L, Chapin S. Popular Weight Loss Strategies: A Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2017 Nov; 19(12):61. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29124370/
  3. Ashtary-Larky D, Ghanavati M, Lamuchi-Deli N, Payami SA, Alavi-Rad S, Boustaninejad M, Afrisham R, Abbasnezhad A, Alipour M. Rapid weight loss vs. slow weight loss: which is more effective on body composition and metabolic risk factors? Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May;15(3):e13249. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702468/
  4. Maclean PS, Bergouignan A, Cornier M-A, Jackman MR. Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. Am J Physiol. 2011 Sep;301(3):R581-R600. Available from: https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00755.2010?etoc=
  5. National Institute for Care Excellence. Obesity: identification, assessment and management [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2024 Mar 13] Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg189/chapter/Recommendations#lifestyle-interventions 
  6. Tahreem A, Rakha A, Rabail R, Nazir A, Maerescu CM, Aadil RM. Fad diets: fact and fiction. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul;9. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.960922/full?s2=P1382050337_1683417609530718067
  7. Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1 Suppl):222S-225S. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16002825/

Fresh Approach Nutrition

Our team of registered dietitians help people in Bristol and across the UK to overcome their struggles with food and to achieve their dietary goals.

We aim to cut through the confusion of dietary advice on the internet and in the media, and to give our clients the fresh approach they need to see real results.