There's a reason why they're called yo-yo: those diets that have you subsisting on just a few calories a day inevitably lead to ups and downs on the scale. A recent study backs up what many people who've struggled with weight loss already know: when researchers put dieters on a deprivation diet of about 500 calories, it worked at first, with study participants losing an average of 30 pounds over eight weeks. But it wasn't sustainable: most participants ended up gaining, on average, 11 pounds back within the year of the study, even with continued dieter's counseling, and reported that they felt "hungrier and more preoccupied with weight."
So why is it hard to maintain weight loss on an extreme diet? It's not just because of all the temptation out there; deprivation diets cause the body to go into starvation mode, making you feel even hungrier while your body holds onto pounds instead of shedding them.
Instead of trying the next fad diet that alters your hormones, start a program you know you'll be able to stick with. Plan meals so you can cook more of them at home, make healthier but still tasty choices when dining out, and allow yourself small indulgences every day. For more ways to turn "dieting" into a lifestyle, read these 13 essential eating tips for weight-loss success.