Why Dieting Smart May Not Work

by Dean McKillop 2658 views Nutrition

Why Dieting Smart May Not Work

Openly speaking, we live in an over fat country… It’s a harsh reality to acknowledge but the truth cannot be denied, more than 50% of our population are currently deemed to be either overweight or over fat.

I’ve split the 2 categories up there for a reason because I think it’s important to acknowledge the variation between the two.


In cohort studies looking solely at BMI (Body Mass Index), which looks at how much a person weighs relative to their height, it is has been deemed that our nation is grossly out of shape.

However, the problem with this method of BMI is two-fold:
  1. BMI does not account for muscle weight and may have an athletic person be considered overweight or obese, despite being healthy.
  2. BMI does not account for those who have low body weight but chronically high body fat with little muscle, of which they would be considered healthy by BMI standards but unhealthy by body composition standards.
So we are fat

As a nation, Australians are largely too heavy or they carry too much body fat in comparison to what is considered to be positive for enhancing health markers. So what do we do about it?

As an online performance and nutrition coach, and a supporter of flexible dieting, my core values on nutrition are defined by trying to achieve 3 main factors for my athletes:

  1. Optimising performance
  2. Optimising recovery
  3. Ensuring psychosocial (mental + social) factors are optimised

In order for me to achieve this with my clientele, it has been my experience that allowing an athlete to learn and implement nutritional strategies to support all 3 factors is what achieves the most optimal result.

They understand the amount of food they need to eat to recover, how to control their protein, carbohydrates and fats to ensure performance is optimal and they find a balance between their physical/performance goals and their social lives.

Through flexible dieting, we achieve, in my opinion, the most holistic approach to sports performance, body composition manipulation and lifestyle balance possible.

We diet smart

Despite this, however, it is my experience, that in some instances, the general population largely do not succeed with this approach despite it perhaps being the most optimal way.

Let me clarify that…

For clients who are mentally ready to commit to a long-term lifestyle change, flexible dieting, hands down achieves the greatest long-term results. Which, I believe is because it’s easier to adhere to for an extended period of time.

However, for the client looking for the faster, quick fix… it’s almost as if the approach of dieting smart seems too easy and their mental capacity to commit to something that isn’t hard often fails.

For some reason, we have built up this expectation of needing to suffer in order to be successful.

It’s ludicrous! Which brings me to the point of this article…

I would like to send out a call to action for anyone reading this who is looking to make a mental, physical or social change in regards to their food habits for a LIFETIME.
No quick fixes, fast fat loss and unattainable dieting strategies, but instead a commitment to improving your life long-term.

If you are or have before:
  • Suffered from binge eating
  • Are overweight
  • Attempted multiple popular dieting strategies and failed
  • Have lost weight prior only to gain it all back and more
  • Are fearful of food groups

Stop looking to the extremes and look for something you can implement for a lifetime.

If you begin a diet and you can’t foresee yourself adhering to it for a lifetime, it is NOT a good diet.

Our goal when it comes to making a nutritional change should not be to make you suffer in order to achieve an arbitrary number on the scale, but instead to change your outlook on what is considered ‘healthy nutrition.’

  • Can we remove gluten, sugar and carbs to achieve fast fat loss – yes!
  • Can we remove all carbs and follow a ketogenic diet for fast fat loss – yes!
  • Can we follow a Palaeolithic diet for fast fat loss – yes!
  • Can we do juice detoxes, vitamin cleanses and liquid diets for fast fat loss – yes!
But can you maintain those diets forever – Likely NO!

I repeat…If the diet you are following now cannot be followed for a lifetime, it is a TERRIBLE DIET!

Which brings us back to the title of this article…

Dieting smart is not the best way to achieve fast, unattainable results. Instead, dieting smart is about implementing strategies that will allow you to amalgamate your social, psychological and physiological goals into 1 holistic approach for long-term success.

If this approach is not for you and you feel you need severe restriction in order to commit to change, you need to ask yourself why?

Why do you need to suffer in order to ‘succeed’? Trends are trends for a reason… they come and go.

Stop following the trends and make a change that you can follow forever. 

Dean McKillop

Exercise Scientist

I completed my Exercise Science Degree at the University of QLD and have worked in the fitness industry for over 8 years, including a short stint at the Brisbane Broncos in 2010 as a student. I also hold my Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach accreditation (ASCA) and have competed in 1 bodybuilding season, placing 2nd at the IFBB u85kg Nationals.

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