T Nation

Why Cutting Diets Sometimes Fail


Hi all, as summer's coming I imagine I'm not the only bugger on here trying to shed a stone (or two, in my case), so I thought I'd list off the main reasons cutting diets can fail, and I hope we can get some ideas as to what to do about it;

1) Lack of self-discipline as shown by hedonistic intake - I'm the first culprit here. I just love beer, and it shows. I love chocolate, I love cheat meals ALL weekend. I dream of being able to BULK, for once, though I'm 223 and 18%. It's got to stop.

2) Pressure of work/family etc - if you're stressed out you reach for whatever the hell is at hand, and if finishing your EOM reports means you didn't grill up for the following week, it's going to be bad. Sleep suffers, and working out turns from a thing you look forward to, to something you dread;

3) Lack of ongoing accountability - I think most diets, including those among the civilian population, fail because the individual discipline is weak, and the dieter has nobody who is skilled enough, caring enough and available to enough to enforce the diet. I want someone to slap my face HARD if I fall off the wagon;

4) Lack of calorie counting through ignorance - this is one I myself only conquered a couple of years ago after a LONG time hitting weights. There are thousands of guys out there who know NOTHING about nutrition, don't know what a carb is, and will just pump iron between eating pizza for breakfast, and ice cream for brunch.

What to do about it?

Well in my case, I need that first big drop as motivation; that first inch and a half that comes off my gut at the end of Week 1, and use that as momentum. I'll know on Friday.



make the decision , eat impulsevly food that you like and not worry about macs/cals etc which is what nearly everybody else does and look like everybody else . or be meticulas and consistant with your chosen diet and look better and different from everybody else . some times(very very rarely) i do wonder/envy what it would be like to eat without thinking about macs/cals like most people do but that only lasts for a short while .

i like the way i feel n look especially as im 44 now n look and probably feel better than most men half my age , im sure alot of the other older members on this site will relate to this . my best tip would be treat it as a part time job and the diet/training is part of that job , what happens if you f+++ up at work or youre late or miss days ? you get the idea its your choice !!!


making the diet too complex or unbearable...100%

adherence is the most improtant variable...took me years to realize that, and it changed the way i view every diet i construct now...


Lack of Preparedness. Not only do I have to set aside a few nights each week to cook chicken breasts en bulk, but I have to plan extended food shopping trips each weekend(BJs and Traders Joes), as well as wake up earlier each morning to pack my cooler of food for the day. Most people will attempt this sort of schedule for a couple of days before they fall back on 'just winging it'.



Honestly, I think that most of the things mentioned are really minor details. First and foremost is really defining your motivation, and making it personal. I've done a few diets before, and it was always motivation that was lacking when I didn't follow through.

"I want hawt abz" is not going to do it for most people. It's needs to be almost tangible. I'm on the Vdiet right now, and there's no way I would have lasted the first week if I had simply gone with that.

If you get the proper motivation, you don't have the same discipline problems and what family and friends say doesn't really bother you. It will also make the tedium of counting calories and consistently eating when and what you are supposed to more bearable.

Not counting calories can definitely screw up progress, but if you don't make an effort to know how much you're eating, can you really say you're on a diet?


Well you don't need to cook chicken every few nights, you should be able to grill up a kilo or two on Sunday, which will still be edible in 7 days if kept in a fridge set one or two degrees. I head out to my local butcher on Sunday morning, marinade, refrigerate, and either grill up on Sunday night or before training on Monday morning.

That said, it only just occurred to me a few weeks back that I can keep omelette frozen and thaw out the day before, whereas if I keep it the whole time in the fridge, it'll rot just before the weekend.


1) Motivation and consistency. I tried to lose as much fat as possible in 12 weeks. That was my motivation. Trying to do better than what I or anyone thought I could do. As for consistency, I worked out an average of twice daily, mostly doing strength training.

2) A plan. With #1 covered all you need is a plan. My plan was a variation of a Christian Thib. plan. It worked very well. My nutrition plan was a bit more complicated, but if you find a plan (get shredded comes to mind), then you're set. I didn't count calories, but I did have a pretty good idea of it anyhow. I always stayed a little hungry and that was what I went by.

Never completely satisfied with very smart food choices is essentially what I did. It was extreme but it worked very well. My real plan was a mixed protein sparing modified fast mixed with some carb cycling when I felt it was needed to readjust my energy/hormones.


once you commit to this type of life style you'll realise shopping cooking preparing weighing n bagging is one of the most time consuming and boring sides of this life style and as stu said not many people are prepaired for this duty alone . sometimes you feel like thats all your doin . and people say cardio is boring !


I'd add that to the list...

5) Chaps don't know how to prep food (girl's job);

6) """""" """" """" """" " store food ( "" "" )


You have no clue how much chicken I eat on a contest diet -lol. Besides, when you're limited to just a few food choices, who the hell wants to eat 6 day old chicken?



I would add there is the potential, albeit slight, for food poisoning when chicken gets into that range.

When I was young and single, I would occasionally have some Sunday cooked chicken on a Saturday, and get sick within a few hours.


For Stu --
Chicken Magic: How to stay sane on a cutting diet

Freeze 4-5 days worth of the "Sunday chicken", then each day (Tues through sunday) as you take out the chicken from the fridge, you replace that exact spot in the fridge with one of the 4 frozen bags of chicken from the freezer [make sure you do a first-in, first-out basis when you remove the thawed chicken from the fridge).

I always number containers/bags 1-7 (monday is 1, tues is 2, ...sunday is 7). That way, on any given day, the bag in the fridge in the morning will correspond to the day. When night rolls around, you will be thawing the day to come so to speak. Motivates me a little. (it's not always chicken either, i interchange lean fish, pork tenderloin and or eggs sometimes, all mixed with copious veggies, raw and or cooked, and a small-moderate dose of essential fats (3,GLA,9,etc.) , saturated fats (lauric, stearic, MCTs and others), and a good dose of cholesterol (as my cholesterol levels are quite healthy from good diet, low in "unnecessary sugars and starches as my glucose requirements are linked together by my activity levels and carb intake). Why am I rambling?


Meh, I don't necessarily agree with number 4. I cut last summer from 20% to 9% without ever counting calories a single day.


If you follow the same cutting meal plan week in, week out, with any inbuilt variations to stave off boredom, you won't need to count calories.


I generally go by smell. If the last remaining chicken has a borderline whiff, I sling it, but by then my Girl Saturday has arrived and I've got plenty of alternative protein to munch on.


I'm buying 3 roast chickens a week, on a Saturday. They last 6-7 days easily, and I usually finish them by the Friday.


Roast tastes great but doesn't give the amount of protein that grilled does.


Really? I thought that would be just about negligable.

How much of a difference could there be?


I love stuff like this............IMO one of two situations existed....
1. You have great genetics and/or are under 25 years old (the exception doesn't prove the rule)
2. Somebody else did the couting for you (either direct ot indirect)


Not sure exactly but I'm afraid it's quite a bit as roasting takes an hour or more, whereas grilling only takes 5 minutes or so. Best to get the Georgie-boy back out...