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12 Ways to Know if a Diet Works (6 Ways it Doesn’t)

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When you’re looking for a diet, it’s hard to know which one will work.

Even when you’re in the middle of a diet, it’s not always easy to know if it’s really working.

This list can help you look for the signs of a good (or bad) diet.

Your Diet Works If:

1. You Can Do It All the Time

If your diet is successful for a few months/weeks, but the rest of the year you backslide, it's not working for you all the time.

If you can't follow it year round, it's not going to help you have long lasting fat loss.

2. It's Adaptable

You need to be able to change eating habits within your diet based on how your body responds.

  • If you're starving an hour or two after you eat, you might not be eating enough.

  • If you feel sluggish after meals, you might need to adjust the types of food you're eating.

  • If the scale is moving the wrong direction, you’ll need to make adjustments as well.

3. You're Eating All Food Groups

If a diet cuts out a major macronutrient (like fat or carbs), or claims you can't eat a certain food group, I'd be wary.

You need essential nutrients from a variety of foods. Limiting what you put into your body can create serious nutritional deficiencies. You should have reasonable cause (like an allergy, or legitimate sensitivity) before you go randomly cutting out foods.

Also, these types of diets are harder to maintain, unless you're always going to bring your own food to eat out for the rest of your life.

4. You're Not Eating Something You Hate

Please don't eat kale if you don't like it.

Yes, you need veggies and nutrients, but kale and other fad foods are not the be-all and end-all of nutrition. There are plenty of options around to suit your taste buds and goals.

5. You Feel Satisfied

Taking the idea from #4 a step further, you should also enjoy your food.

You might think a good diet means eating food that simply isn’t as satisfying as “regular” food.

Dwight Shrute saying "False"

Food is as much for pleasure as it is for energy. Your diet should reflect that.

6. You Have More Energy

Your energy level is like the fuel indicator in your car.

The foods you eat, even when losing weight, should prevent you from running on fumes.

Both overeating, not eating enough, as well as not eating a wide variety of foods to get the energy/nutrients you need can make you feel sluggish and drained. If your energy is good, your diet is doing it’s job.

7. You Can Workout Without Dying

Your diet should complement your exercise habits.

With the right diet, it is possible to lose weight while gaining strength — not for everyone all the time — but you certainly shouldn’t feel like you don’t have the strength/stamina to open the gym door.

8. You Have A Heightened Sense of Smell

This is a strange one, and that’s because it is 100% made up.

Just making sure you’re still reading.

9. You Can Have Whiskey

If you want to eat or drink something you enjoy, you should be able to partake within reason.

I tell my clients to aim for 90% compliance. That means 10% of the time you can eat whatever you want. 100% discipline is unnecessary to change your body composition.

10. Your Clothes Fit Differently

Forget the scale.

Don’t judge the effectiveness of your diet based on your weight alone. In certain situations the scale can be a reliable tool. Other times it can be misleading.

A better resource is to see how your clothes are fitting. Weight staying the same but your clothes getting looser? You’re on the right track.

11. You're Sleeping Better

The food you eat plays a role in how you sleep, but not through meal timing, as some would lead you to believe.

What matters most is that you’re not going to bed stuffed or starving.

A good diet facilitates that by showing you how to eat in moderation throughout the day (whether it’s 3 meals or 8).

12. It Doesn't Feel Like a Diet

Eating shouldn’t be a chore.

When you first get started, it takes some extra effort. But after awhile it should get where you know how to do it in a way that works for you, you can enjoy your food, and your “diet” is just how you eat.

Your Diet Doesn’t Work If:

1. You Feel Awful

Physically or emotionally.

You shouldn’t be lumbering around, eyes glazed over because your diet keeps you in a state of physically feeling like the undead.

You also shouldn’t be constantly beating yourself up about your food choices. If your diet gives you anxiety, or constant guilt, it may be asking too much of you.

2. You're Losing the Hunger Games

A little hunger is part of life. It’s how your body communicates with you. Becoming familiar with your hunger cues is how you stay ahead of your own hunger games.

If you constantly feel hungry, (or hangry, like you’re moments away from assassinating everyone as a matter of survival) your diet is not working like it should.

3. You Find Yourself Binging

You. Are. Not. Weak.

If you’re binging, it’s not because you suck as a person, or because you’re a terrible dieter. It’s because the diet you’re on isn’t working for one reason or another and you need a new approach.

I won’t sit here and say you never have to claim responsibility, or learn a little more discipline. We all go overboard every now and then. I won’t even call it making a mistake. It’s just something that happens.

But if it happens a lot (unless you have a legitimate eating disorder), there’s a good chance the binging is merely a symptom of a faulty diet.

4. You Gained Weight

If you aren’t losing weight, sometimes that is perfectly acceptable (depending upon how overweight you are to begin with).

That said, if you’re gaining weight on a fat loss diet, that’s obviously not a good sign.

5. Going to the Bathroom is a Shitty Experience

You can’t just eat a bunch of protein and expect to be in good health. You need vegetables, and fiber, and a good balance of foods in general.

If trips to the bathroom are far too frequent, or not frequent enough, your diet might not be giving you that balance.

6. You're Repeating Yourself

With this, we’re right back where we started… can you do your diet all the time?

One symptom of a diet that doesn’t work is you keep coming back to it over and over because it works in the short term, but has failed you in the long term. (Read our blog about this called “What I Want to Say to You But I Can’t.”)

A Diet that Works

If you want a diet that takes into consideration everything I mentioned above, I have one you can start right now.

It’s our free ebook called “Forever Fat Loss: 12 Habits for Lasting Change.” Download it now!


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