A 'diet,' in the sense of a particular regimen of foods with severely restricted calories, is typically ineffective for long-term weight loss. The major reason diets don't work is that they're unrealistic. They may limit calories so much that you're often hungry or they may demand that you eat only certain foods. Eventually, hunger and boredom drive you off the diet, but in the meantime, your metabolism may have slowed down from eating so few calories. After just two weeks on a 'fad' diet, your metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn at rest, can drop as much as 20 percent. This means once you go back to normal eating, you're likely to gain weight faster than ever. When you combine healthy eating with increased exercise, however, you can actually increase your metabolism. Another problem with diets is that they have a beginning and an end. They address only a specific time period without teaching you the skills you need for a lifetime of healthier eating, like how to shop for nutritious, low-fat foods; how to make the best choices when eating out; and how to enjoy an occasional treat in moderation.
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