Q&A: Why trending diets won't work in 2020 Special

Posted Jan 15, 2020 by Tim Sandle
Popular diets won’t work in 2020 for people trying to lose weight, according to registered dietitian Kajsa Ernestam. This is because popular diets don’t take into account individual factors.
Research shows that a diet low in  or free of  meat is the best for weight control.
Research shows that a diet low in, or free of, meat is the best for weight control.
The types of individual factors that matter include genetics, work, lifestyle, environment, and even allergies. each of which all play a role in losing weight and staying healthy.
Registered dietitian Kajsa Ernestam oversees the nutritional curriculum for over 35 million users at the digital health app, Lifesum. Kajsa explains how to identify the best weight loss plan in 2020, based on individual needs. As she says in the interview, this starts with four questions people should ask themselves before making any New Year’s resolution.
Digital Journal: Why do many people turn towards popular diets to help lose weight?
Kajsa Ernestam: Popular diets tend to appeal more to people's vanity than to their desire to stay healthy. In other words, the focus is on losing inches and pounds, not reducing the risk of health conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.
For many dieters, the psychological cost of giving up their fattening lifestyle seems too overwhelming or drastic. So they opt for a “quick fix.” There’s also the fact dieters may not think about whether a weight-loss plan publicized by an attractive celebrity is healthy, logical or right for them. They just like the way the celebrity looks and want to look like them too.
DJ: Why do these diets often not work?
Ernestam: These diets don’t typically work because they don’t promote long-term lifestyle changes. Most people who go on them are more motivated by wanting to change the way they look than their health. Fad diets are often programs you're supposed to follow for just a few weeks, but the right approach to weight loss is to change your lifestyle - forever.
DJ: Are some of the fad diets dangerous?
Ernestam: Some fad diets can jeopardize your health by promoting unhealthy eating habits that don’t meet nutritional recommendations. This is because fad diets are usually based on excluding one or more food groups. When doing that, you need to keep in mind to replace these food groups with something else to meet the nutritional needs.
Additionally, fad diets often promise dramatic, unrealistic weight loss results, and become popular because they produce short-term weight loss quickly. However, most do not result in long-term weight loss success. Some fat diets also provide far fewer daily calories than normal, resulting in weight loss mainly comprised of water and lean muscle mass, instead of fat.
DJ: What is the impact on consumers after trying one of these diets for a few months?
Ernestam:It's generally difficult for most people to maintain any diet that drastically restricts their food choices or requires them to eat uncommon foods, very little food, or the same exact foods day after day. This is why people who lose weight on a fad diet usually gain the weight - and then some - back again.
There’s also the fact that excluding certain food groups - and not replacing these specific nutrients - can become especially risky the longer you do it.
DJ: How does Lifesum offer an alternative?
Ernestam:Selecting random diets based on popularity will not always lead to successful weight loss since individual attributes - like work, lifestyle, environment, time, allergies and genetics - all play a defining role in whether a diet will succeed
Lifesum has created a self-assessment test that factors in these individual attributes, allowing consumers to identify the best weight loss plan based on the individual, like if they love to cook or have a sweet tooth.
Lifesum's self-assessment asks questions like:
1. What is your food preference?
2. Do you prefer to follow a meal plan or stay more flexible?
3. What do you struggle with?
4. What are your main obstacles to eating more healthy?
5. Do you do your own grocery shopping?
6. Do you do your own cooking?
7. Do you have any specific dietary requirements?
DJ: What is the nutritional advice within Lifesum based on?
Ernestam:Rather than putting the entire focus on weight loss, Lifesum emphasizes the nutritional value of food and long-term health results. Our expansive self-assessment helps us identify - with accuracy - which of the 17-plus Lifesum diets and meal plans will work best for an individual's needs without compromising their health or love of food.
Lifesum also doesn't just randomly assign diets to users. We have over 15 personalized diets and meal plans to help consumers reach their health goals and create healthier eating habits without feeling hungry. There are even certain options that you can add to the actual diet to enhance your success, like DNA tests and step counters.