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Gavin Guard: Why don’t diets work?

Key takeaways

  • Humans are designed to eat energy-rich food
  • But this often leads to obesity and other health problems given our current environment
  • Habit-based practices are a much better approach to looking, feeling, and performing better


Carnivore, vegan, Adkins, keto, low carb, Paleo, vegetarian, South Beach, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers…. This list goes on and on of the number of diets that are available on the internet. 

Maybe you’ve tried one of these. Chances are that it didn’t last long. Or perhaps you did find success with a popular diet. If that’s you, I encourage you to keep it up. 

But if you are one of the millions of people that set their mind on losing weight for the New Year’s resolution only for it to last a month or two, keep reading. 

Let’s face it, many of these diets are selling quick fixes for a much bigger problem. In this article, I will review the reason why diets often don’t work and a better approach to look, feel, and perform at your best.

“Why do I have food cravings?”

Who doesn’t have some level of food cravings? For me, it’s chocolate chip cookies. What is it for you? Is it the salty chips late at night, chocolate after dinner, or perhaps you can’t keep your hands off the donuts that your coworker brought in. Whatever it is, why do you feel these strong urges to eat these types of food?

The answer comes down to the fact that these energy-rich foods help us survive. 

Humans have lasted a long time on this Earth. As a species, we had to survive through droughts, famines, war, and interactions with the natural world. So how did we make it this far?

Up until now, food has been relatively scarce. This led our ancestors to work for important things (e.g. build shelter, gather, hunt) and otherwise, conserve energy as much as possible. 

Now, we still have those primal instincts to conserve energy but are in an environment where we have abounding food choices. 

Our cravings typically are for calorie-rich foods like donuts, cupcakes, sweets, and sugary beverages. Who craves roasted broccoli, right? In fact, the average American eats 1.3-2.1 servings of vegetables per DAY (1). Get this- this includes the potatoes in your french fries and tomatoes found in ketchup. On the contrary, up to 84% of the calories of our food comes in ultra-processed foods and beverages. 

These cravings are a survival mechanism that has allowed humans to survive throughout the ages. However, our brains have a hard time evaluating energy-dense foods (2). It seems like the signals that normally tell your brain that  “I’m full” don’t typically get conveyed to the brain when we eat processed foods (3). 

In other words, humans have not adapted to make proper food decisions when it comes to the calorie-rich foods we find ourselves next to everyday. This is why 1 Oreo turns into a whole sleeve of Oreos before you know it. 

By having a natural predilection to these calorie-rich foods, we prepare our bodies for the droughts, famine, and natural disasters that our ancestors inevitably faced, but we ourselves are usually free from.

Why do all diets turn into cupcakes?

 Want to keep reading this article? Go to GavinGuard.com to pick up where you left off. 

Most people feel frustrated because their health feels left to guesswork. I create a comprehensive and personalized plan that gives you answers to your symptoms.  After you work with me, you will feel more in control of your health.
I am now offering a free 15-minute appointment to help you develop a game plan for your health concerns. Go to www.GavinGuard.com to book this free appointment.

In Health,

Gavin Guard, PA-C, MPAS, CISSN, Pn1
Medical Director, Roots Integrated Care
Last modified onMonday, 05 July 2021 02:40