Nowadays, we’re constantly bombarded with different weight loss programs and products that claim to work wonders.
In fact, it’s nearly impossible to scroll through social media and not see them advertised. With over 40% of US adults weighing in obese, effective weight loss programs have never been more needed.
But unfortunately, most just don’t deliver.
As a fitness professional, I see programs left and right that use the wrong techniques and make unrealistic promises. While it’s frustrating for me, it’s even more frustrating for the participants who are just trying to have a healthier life.
Most of the time it’s someone who’s overweight and has tons of barriers to weight loss. Nonetheless, they’ve made a commitment to getting healthy and losing weight. Then they’ve thought long and hard about what’s worth their investment. Finally, they’ve taken the leap and purchased a program.
Their fear? Not only wasting their money, but also not seeing any results.
And that’s what ends up happening most of the time.
Maybe you’re even reading this because it’s happened to you.
So why is it that most weight loss programs don’t provide the results they promise?
We’re getting into the nitty gritty here. Keep reading to reveal where most of these programs go terribly wrong (and what to look for instead!).
Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!
9 Reasons Most Weight Loss Programs Don’t Work
1. They aim for fast results
Time and again, researchers and health professionals have said we need to aim for slow and steady weight loss.
And time and again, social media says, “Thanks, but nah.”
Just type “how to lose weight” into Pinterest or Google search.
Nearly all results will say the words FAST or QUICK somewhere in the title or description.
I mean, I get it. Who doesn’t want fast results?
Business owners know this too, though.
The scary thing is that the moment a weight loss program makes quick results their overall aim, everything else goes out the window. It becomes less about sustainable weight loss and creating lasting healthy habits.
Instead you get a program that’s determined to make the number on the scale go down, whether or not you’re truly losing fat or will still have it off in a week.
Some tricks of the trade I see include cutting out almost all carbs – which makes you lose water weight. Another program may correctly focus on a calorie deficit, but cuts your calories so intensely that you have no energy for exercise or even most of your daily activities. Others may make you eat weird things at weird times, which is unsustainable and mentally exhausting.
The truth is, if you implement the right techniques, the weight loss WILL come.
And it will come at a rate that’s appropriate for your body and healthy for YOU.
It doesn’t mean it will be slow. In fact, it could still be quite fast. It just means it’s with lasting habits that will allow you to keep losing fat and keep it off.
2. They use weird methods and buzzwords
Detox. Metabolism reset. Intermittent fasting. Keto. Whole30.
I’m just skimming the surface here.
There are LOADS of weight loss buzzwords out there today, aiming to intrigue you and lure you in.
For example, let’s say I offered a new weight loss course that uses the effective “gut lipase metabolism method” to force your body to burn 10 lbs of fat in just 1 week. Many people might turn their heads for that.
(I completely made that up. That’s not a thing.)
When you’ve tried a few ways to lose weight and nothing has worked, it’s easy to think there must be something perfect out there you just haven’t found yet.
At least, that’s what diet culture would have you believe.
But that’s not the case.
While the principles of weight loss may be relatively simple (burning more calories than you consume), implementing them into your daily life is HARD. And many weight loss programs don’t even address that.
A program that promises their new, novel method is the only way to go – is NOT the way to go.
3. They’re one size fits all
Along the same lines, what works for one person may not work for everyone.
Many weight loss programs take a “one size fits all” mentality, forgetting that things like intermittent fasting won’t work for someone who wakes up starving every morning and prefers to eat every 3 hours.
I’ve seen this with weight loss workout plans as well. Sometimes they forget to take a person’s exercise preferences into account. Or even the amount of time they have in a day.
Others focus only on beginner exercises, even though I’ve known plenty of overweight individuals with a solid exercise foundation who actually need to be pushed more.
While a weight loss program can certainly focus on a specific demographic, just be sure all aspects work for you before investing.
4. They’re for a certain time…and then over
If you finish a weight loss program and are left with, “Well…what now?” then they didn’t do something quite right.
As a weight loss specialist who has worked with many weight loss clients, I know that the “program” is just the beginning.
Regardless of program length – 30 days, 60 days, 6 months – it’s not a one and done kind of deal.
Once you invest your time, energy, and money into a program, you need to stay the course afterwards to maintain your fitness level, continue feeling great, and keep the weight off.
If a program leaves you with, essentially, “Good luck!” then it’s not a good program.
5. They don’t teach you anything
One of the best ways a program can avoid “leaving you hanging” is to actually teach you something.
If you leave knowing things like how to write a healthy grocery list, what to do when you have no motivation to work out, and how much exercise you should really be doing, you’ll be set up for success long-term.
That age-old expression applies here: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Where most programs go wrong is they just tell you what to do and when, without telling you WHY. They make you dependent on them.
You shouldn’t need to rely on a program for life.
Instead, seek out programs that give you a rationale, and think about how you’re going to implement their techniques long-term.
6. Their only aim is for you to buy more
This is probably my biggest pet peeve.
Unfortunately, a lot of weight loss programs are designed to “only work” if you use their products. It results in you having to buy a bunch of things you don’t really need for weight loss.
I’m not talking about dumbbells or a gym membership, because those are legitimate fitness investments.
I mean products like fit teas, weight loss shakes, diet pills, and actually a lot of supplements.
There’s a reason the only supplement I talk about on this blog is protein powder. And that’s because I really don’t think we need much more than that (and we don’t really NEED protein powder either).
Unless your doctor recommends a supplement, most nutrients can be sufficiently obtained from eating a balanced diet.
You DO NOT need fit teas, weight loss shakes, or diet pills to lose weight.
In fact, I’ve worked with a woman who had severely damaged her heart from years of taking too many metabolism-boosting diet pills.
You don’t need them. Period.
7. They focus on nutrition or exercise, but not both
Another big mistake I see weight loss programs make is focusing on either nutrition OR exercise.
I’m a firm believer that you need both of these components to achieve healthy weight loss. There are times when one needs to be used and not the other, such as an injury that prevents exercise or when someone is morbidly obese and at high risk of injury.
But for most people, both a nutrition- and exercise-focused weight loss plan is possible and recommended.
Let’s say you only want to focus on the exercise portion. The problem is you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. (Or maybe you can, you just have to do 10 hours of exercise a day.) And even if you do achieve a calorie deficit, you’re never going to feel your best if you eat pizza and sour patch kids all day.
On the flip side, if you watch your eating but don’t exercise, you’re missing the cherry on top that would accelerate your weight loss. By skipping strength training, you’re also missing out on building flattering, toned muscles that are needed for most aesthetic fitness goals.
Living a healthy lifestyle means both exercising AND eating healthy. So be wary of the programs that don’t get you started on the right foot.
8. They forget about the mental aspect
Many programs that DO address both nutrition and exercise forget about one other crucial component: mental wellness.
Because no matter how great a program may start out, we all have bad days and just plain low motivation days.
The stellar workout plan isn’t even important if you can’t convince yourself to do it.
No weight loss program will be 100% able to turn around every bad day, but it should at least address the fundamentals of how to stay motivated and on track.
9. They don’t keep health at the forefront
Weight loss should just be a perk. A side effect of making healthy choices.
Getting healthy should be the main goal of any weight loss program you choose.
So often that is clearly not the case, with programs aiming for weight loss by any means necessary.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Weight loss isn’t worth it if you don’t feel great, have lots of energy, and have a balanced lifestyle where you can still enjoy your favorite things.
A program that doesn’t maintain this focus won’t work for you in the long-run.
Are there any weight loss programs that DO work?
Looking for a weight loss program that avoids all these mistakes? Well, I tried…and couldn’t.
So I’m creating my own!
I’m currently in the process of designing the 30 Day Weight Loss Kickstart Program that will help women lose weight the healthy way – with nutrition, exercise, and mental wellness at the forefront. It’s not ready yet (as you can imagine, it takes quite some time to put together such a comprehensive program). But if you’re interested, sign up below and I’ll notify you when it’s available!
I’ll even throw in my free Weight Loss Checklist for you to use in the meantime. 🙂