Get Started

Does Dieting Predict Weight Gain?

high on life podcast obesity medicine podcast weight loss Aug 14, 2023

Today’s blog topic is one that has been under debate for many decades.

Contrary to what you may have been told, dieting is not the solution but the problem itself.

Dieting is, in fact, associated with weight gain.

When you start a traditional dieting program, there are many potential negative consequences that are not often advertised when you join. Restrictive diets can trigger disordered eating patterns, a negative relationship with food that could take years to heal, decreases in energy levels, and much more.

Let's take a look at two interesting studies that shed light on the adverse effects of dieting on weight gain and overall health:

  • The Project EAT Study1-2: This five-year longitudinal study among adolescents found that dieting was associated with negative outcomes, including binge eating, reduced physical activity, decreased breakfast consumption, and an increased risk of developing overweight, obesity, and disordered eating in the future. Surprisingly, those who attempted to diet in an effort to lose weight experienced the opposite effect, gaining weight over time.
  • The Finnish Twin Study1-2: A ten-year study conducted in Finland involving 2,000 sets of twins revealed that even a single dieting episode in one's lifetime predicted weight gain compared to their non-dieting twin. Furthermore, research suggests that dieting may have a more significant impact on lean individuals than those with obesity, leading to even greater weight gain in the future

The Pitfalls of Dieting:

When you start a traditional dieting program, there are many potential negative consequences that are not often advertised when you join.

Restrictive diets can trigger unhealthy eating behaviors, leading to episodes of binge eating as your body tries to compensate for the deprivation.

Dieting can cause a drop in energy levels, resulting in reduced physical activity and hindering your weight management progress.

Following strict diets may pave the way for developing disordered eating patterns, which can lead to a negative relationship with food that could take years to heal.

The Solution:

It's time to shift the focus away from the scale and traditional diets. Embracing a health-focused approach will lead to more sustainable weight management. 

Here are four key components of this new perspective:

  1. Drop the Scale Focus
    Instead of fixating on a specific number on the scale, concentrate on creating a lifestyle that prioritizes your health and overall well-being. Allow your body to find its "best weight" (the weight that the scale lands on when you are living up to your full potential).

  2. Learn to Create Your Healthiest Lifestyle
    Embrace consistency, sustainability, and resilience in your daily habits. Avoid the all-or-nothing mindset and prioritize self-care without perfectionism.

  3. Develop Emotional Coping Mechanisms
    Identify and address emotional triggers that may lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Focus on personal growth, mindset development, and stress management.

  4. Treat Medical Conditions
    Obesity is a medical condition, and like any medical condition, it is important to seek consultation from your physician or a specialist such as an endocrinologist who will be able to suggest appropriate medical treatment. This could include using anti-obesity medications or considering bariatric surgery.

Dieting, as traditionally understood, is likely not the best path to sustainable weight loss. 

Dieting is based on punishment and needing to achieve a certain aesthetic that is often unrealistic. We have an industry of dieting that is creating the very problem that it is advertising to solve. It's creating this epidemic of toxic relationships with your body and with food, while also posing as the solution that you're supposed to be looking for.

It's time to challenge the focus away from the scale and commercial diets. Restrictive fad diets were never the long term solution. The secret to achieving lasting weight management lies in adopting a different approach that prioritizes health, well-being, and self-empowerment.

If you found this article interesting, I would appreciate it if you shared this with your friends, family, and colleagues. It’s time to shift the narrative on dieting being the answer to successful weight loss.


  1.   Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Haines J, Story M, Eisenberg ME. Why does dieting predict weight gain in adolescents? Findings from project EAT-II: a 5-year longitudinal study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):448-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.12.013. PMID: 17324664.
  2.   Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Guo J, Story M, Haines J, Eisenberg M. Obesity, disordered eating, and eating disorders in a longitudinal study of adolescents: how do dieters fare 5 years later? J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Apr;106(4):559-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.01.003. PMID: 16567152.
  3.   Lowe MR, Doshi SD, Katterman SN, Feig EH. Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Front Psychol. 2013 Sep 2;4:577. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577. PMID: 24032024; PMCID: PMC3759019.
  4.   Dulloo AG, Jacquet J, Montani JP, Schutz Y. How dieting makes the lean fatter: from a perspective of body composition autoregulation through adipostats and proteinstats awaiting discovery. Obes Rev. 2015 Feb;16 Suppl 1:25-35. doi: 10.1111/obr.12253. PMID: 25614201.


Join My Empowered Weight Loss Community

Sign up for my newsletter to receive weekly mindset, health and weight loss guidance

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.