Health & Fitness

Blog Series: Why Do Diets Fail?


This month’s post for the health and wellness series is from Michael Brigo from Brigo Personal Training.

Why Do Diets Fail?

The main reason why most diet plans fail is that they don’t leave any room for human error. Let’s be honest, we are not perfect! Once in a while, we might have that extra glass of wine. And this is completely fine when you consider that, for example, 80% of the time, you’re eating the foods that nourish your body to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.

The other 20% are foods or drinks you enjoy having but aren’t the best option for your health and fitness goals. Remember: the aim here is to become a BETTER version of yourself and not PERFECT. Instead of rigidly following a meal plan, which is both mentally and physically exhausting, you can have that piece of cake on occasion.

Another major reason why diet plans fail is their focus on nutrients. Real people don’t eat “nutrients”. We eat food. We eat meals, often with other people.

We eat meals that match our cultural background and social interests and we rarely measure things precisely.

There’s always an exception, for example, with professional athletes or bodybuilders who make money from their bodies and athletic skills. They use meal plans to prepare for training and competition. But most of us don’t need that level of surgical precision. We don’t normally eat “ounces” of things, or refer to food by their nutrients.

What Can Go Wrong With a Diet?

When we try to follow rigid diet plans, a lot of things can go wrong.

– Scenario 1: You don’t stick to the plan.

No matter how enthusiastic you are, meal plans can be tough to follow. Life can get in the way. It’s always someone’s birthday, kids get sick, bosses expect you to work late, or you get busy. Sometimes, you simply don’t feel like having a protein bar at 10 am. What’s more, even if you’ve actually paid to have someone make your plan, you might find yourself rebelling against it in subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways. Unfortunately, it means you might not get the results you hope for. For instance, a meal plan you hoped would help you lose weight could actually encourage you to gain weight instead.

– Scenario 2: You follow the plan perfectly. In fact, you follow it too well and for too long. Most diet plans are meant to be temporary.

They’re designed to help a person get to a specific short-term goal, like dropping a few extra pounds before a wedding, learning to manage blood sugar, or cutting weight for an athletic competition.

Our bodies can usually adapt to a rigid way of eating for a short period of time. But if you’re too strict for too long, you could wind up with disordered eating habits and lasting health consequences.

– Scenario 3: You follow the plan for a little while, but it sucks. It isn’t sustainable. It doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t keep you sane. Eventually, you get so turned off by the process that you regress or quit altogether. You conclude that “eating healthy” sucks. And you miss your big chance to learn how to make healthier, more enjoyable, more lasting, and real changes.

What Should You Do?

The bottom line is that if you want to eat better, you don’t have to get weird about things. You just need to think about what you’re already eating, and how you could make it a little bit better. This means fiddling and adjusting. Making small changes and improvements to what you normally eat and enjoy, one small step at a time. Think about a spectrum of food quality rather than “bad” or “good” foods.

That’s what we call the Meal Transformation Game, the game being “how can you make this meal just a little bit better in every situation?”

The game is perfect to be played when your choices are limited. For example, when you’re traveling, eating at work, or at a cafeteria. How can you eat a healthier meal while still being realistic and without trying to be perfect?

Let’s begin by thinking about how you can transform dinner. Here’s how that “food spectrum” might look in daily life, with a sample day of eating.

  • Stage 1: It’s 8 pm. You’ve just come home after a hectic day at work. All you want to do is put food into your stomach and zone out in front of the TV. You can’t even imagine preparing anything more complicated than boxed macaroni ‘n’ cheese right now. Ketchup and hot dogs are as fancy as it gets.
  • Stage 2: Same concept, but you’re adding some extra protein with the help of a rotisserie chicken leg that you grabbed at the grocery store on the way home. You’ve added a side salad, just grabbing a few handfuls of pre-washed greens out of a bag. You’ve whipped up your own pasta. Work is still on your mind, and a couple of drinks will take the edge off.
  • Stage 3: Things are getting fancy. You’re upping the protein with a little more chicken. You’re having a little less pasta. You’ve also added a nice big salad to the mix. You’ve cut the booze to 1 drink. Plus, you’re sitting at the dinner table, instead of flopping down on your couch or standing over the sink.
  • Stage 4: Again, we’re playing at a pro-level. You can whip up a delicious salad in 3 minutes flat and you have some pre-cooked quinoa on hand. That rotisserie chicken is still a fast, convenient option, but now it’s got some healthy buddies. You’re indulging in a single glass of good wine these days, and you take time to savor it.

Meal Transformation Is Not About Reaching Perfection, If you’re at stage 1, all you have to do is shoot for stage 2. Or stage 1.5. You might never get to stage 4. Or it might only happen at times when you’re relaxed and have a little extra time. Stage 4 might only happen on Sunday night, whereas the rest of your week is a mix of stages 1, 2, and — if you’re super lucky — 3.  How far you progress along the continuum all depends on what YOU want, what YOU need, and what YOU can reasonably do, right now.

Over time, things can change. The key is not to binge or splurge out. It’s about discovering balance where you can enjoy all foods but in moderation.

One of our most successful tools is keeping our clients accountable with daily pictures of their meals. By doing so, they can learn as fast as possible how to transform their meals.

So, if you want to transform your meals to help you get in shape, lose weight, and feel better, get in touch with us on

Brigo Personal Training is a dedicated service that help mums who struggle to lose weight, tone up & get in shape. They come to your home or local park perfect for anyone who doesn’t enjoy the gym environment or simply prefers the convenience of their own home or the fresh outdoors.



Telephone: 02031055459

Brigo PT have a special offer for Clapham Mums: you will also receive tailored nutritional plan and support worth £199 for FREE with any PT Package!

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