The most important factor that distinguishes a miracle diet from one that is not: adherence

Nutrition health is much more than losing weight. Even so, this measure is among the most popular related to healthy habits. And associated with weight are diets. There are all kinds of diets. Some are good for health and some are insane. Among the latter are known as miracle diets, which carry all kinds of health problems.

But all, without exception, have a secret to be effective: adherence. Adherence is that factor that achieves results. In the case of healthy diets, which ensure our well-being, it is also an indispensable condition for improving our health.

What do we call 'adherence'?

Adherence is called, in the case of nutrition, the ability to lengthen eating habits over time. That is, maintaining a normal diet and healthy habits for long periods of life (just the opposite of modus operandi of a miracle diet, as we will see.). This act of sustaining a behavior or pattern, making it natural, is a process that can be slow.

The effect of adherence is to change, little by little, these eating patterns. This, in addition to maintaining them, has other positive consequences. For example, it allows you to avoid negative dietary attitudes, such as miracle diets. It also helps us mitigate a possible rebound effect.

Finally, adherence reduces dietary "sacrifices". With the change of habits, the anxiety for unhealthy foods and loaded with palatable but unhealthy substances, decreases. Nor is it a problem if we indulge ourselves one day because adherence is a long-term issue. Just as it costs to reduce weight, with proper nutrition, it also costs to gain it. In other words, adherence is the tool that allows us to acquire a healthier lifestyle.

Why does adherence work in diets?

For more than a decade, there are numerous studies that have proven the fundamental role of adherence in losing weight. It may seem very obvious, but in nutrition matters it is very complex to establish causes and effects. What we know, without a doubt, is that good life habits are meaningless without it.

For what reason? There are several possible explanations. Probably, the results are fruits of the union of all. First of all, weight loss is gradual. Losing a lot of weight in a short time is never a good idea, something observed by a large number of researchers, as we observed in this study carried out by an international multidisciplinary team, between several universities in Norway, Denmark and Australia. Adherence avoids the dreaded "rebound effect and its consequences", which are very harmful to health, as well as fluctuations.

This is also due to metabolic adaptation. As has been observed, in the medium term the body undergoes an adaptation of the metabolism, which acts on a physiological level, adjusting to new habits. This is the main reason it costs more to gain weight, just as it is when it comes to losing it. Metabolic adaptation, however, could play to our advantage. But only over time, which is why adherence makes more sense, as it is a long-term strategy.

How is adherence achieved?

There are several points to keep in mind if we want a permanent change in our habits. These points appear naturally during lifestyle acquisition. At other times, however, they are themselves causes of adherence. For example, it is essential that the diet is varied and of quality.

This means that you opt for natural foods, processed by your own hand or that include good processed foods: those that are not mass-produced industrial products, with a large amount of poor-quality fats, free sugars and preservatives with no nutritional value. Examples of natural products are fresh ones such as vegetables, meats and fish. Good processed are cheeses, naturally cooked products, etc. With an extensive "catalog" of good foods, adherence is achieved much more easily.

In addition, opting for these foods also allows us to move away from products with excess caloric intake and little nutritional value, which leads us to the second point: we must look for a caloric deficit. The best way to do this is by consuming more fruits and vegetables, less meat and fat, and of course minimizing, or eliminating sugar entirely from the diet. It is also essential to increase the amount of fiber and water, which will help us lose weight. With this, it will be very easy to reach a situation of caloric deficit, but in moderation.

Which brings us to the third point, probably the most important: there are no short-term results. Or, if any, they are not an unequivocal indication that we are on the right track. Adherence is an attitude designed to change our habits. To do this, behavior and eating patterns must be modified. We should do this in moderation, never with unrealistic goals that make us suffer.

An unrealistic goal, which involves too much effort, works against adherence. Soon we will fall back into bad habits and what interests us is to modify these habits so that they become something natural in our day to day. Thus, restricting the diet too much, constantly rejecting social factors (eating with family, friends, etc.) or having a boring and monotonous diet are sure bets to never achieve adherence.

What are miracle diets?

Unlike adherence-based habit change, miracle diets seek immediate (and inconsistent) results. Many of them seek caloric reduction through dietary restriction, eliminating food from day to day. This poses two potential problems. The first is that we can be removing necessary nutrients. The second is that it collides with one of the necessary points for adherence: it is a sacrifice.

Other types of miracle diets choose to choose a single food, or a very small group of these. Needless to say, they clearly achieve spectacular weight loss in no time. But it is at the cost of health due to lack of nutrients.

Diets that warn that you only have to maintain them for a certain time are clearly indicating how unhealthy they are. This, as we have already seen, is completely against adherence, which is an attitude over time. Miracle diets restricted to a specific period do not ensure adherence, needless to say, because they would pose a health problem.

The fact that miracle diets seek rapid and impacting weight loss is not a coincidence: the diet they promote is contraindicated by any nutritionist or dietician because it threatens health. Of course, like any magic trick, or "miraculous", we can see the results. Results that will cause a rebound effect and fluctuations in weight, something not desirable, as we have said before.

Education and healthy habits, the only secret

As we said at the beginning, nutrition is not just a matter of losing weight. It is much more important to acquire a healthy lifestyle. Health is a long-term career. Miracle diets, by contrast, are speed races, insane, and unreasonable. We can choose from a multitude of options, strategies, decisions and life changes. But none will be as positive as that of healthy habits and adherence.

Among the healthy habits is the nutritional lifestyle that ensures better nutrition. This has direct (and good) consequences on our health, as all organisms point out. To this we must add more physical activity, either medium intensity, very intense or, simply, light (although it is recommended that it be at least medium).

This whole set, as you might expect, is not just about adopting a diet or exercise plan for a few months, or, as with miracle diets, a few weeks. If we really want changes in our lives, we must change our lives, worth the redundancy. And for this, adherence is the best ally, if not the only one, in the process.

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