NEW YORK — From unappetizing meals plans to overly strict weight loss routines, dieting has left a bad taste in American mouths. A new survey finds one in two Americans are never planning to go on a diet again.
The OnePoll study asked 2,000 people about their experiences with fad diets in the past and their plans for 2021. Seven in 10 respondents shared that diets which require strict rules never really work for them. Another 53 percent said following a fad diet is always intimidating.
Half of the poll also shared they often encounter frequent yo-yoing when they diet; losing weight quickly just to gain it back after they stop dieting. Commissioned by the Zero fasting app, the survey finds six in 10 respondents refuse to go on a diet in 2021.
How ‘fad diets’ crash and burn
The top reason Americans are tossing their diets out the window is simply because they’re too restrictive. Thirty-nine percent of those not planning to diet this year add these diets just aren’t a sustainable way to make long-term changes.
Researchers also asked respondents to share the most common struggles they faced when dieting and discovered the top dieting restriction respondents had a hard time with was cutting out junk food. Other struggles included counting calories (42%), limiting their carb intake (37%), and weighing their food (29%).
Three in four respondents say they tried a fad diet in the past. The top thing they would have done differently was talk to a dietician or nutritionist (46%). Four in 10 regretted not researching the science behind the diet they pursued as well as not talking to their doctor.
With all of their past experiences in mind, nearly three-quarters of respondents want to focus on their health more holistically rather than following a diet in the future. Seven in 10 Americans say they want to improve their metabolic health in 2021.
“We’re thrilled to see so many Americans want to improve their metabolic health,” says Mike Maser, CEO of Big Sky Health, the creators of the Zero fasting app, in a statement. “Backed by science, fasting is a great tool to improve metabolic health, as it can lower blood pressure, increase insulin resistance, improve quality of sleep, alongside many other benefits.”
Moving from dieting to fasting
Nearly six in 10 respondents (58%) have tried intermittent fasting at some point in their lives. The top benefits they wanted include better metabolic health and a better metabolism (38%) and more energy and better mental clarity (37%).
Over half of all respondents say they believe intermittent fasting can be a sustainable practice they could fit into their lifestyles. Fifty-eight percent of respondents add that they were at least somewhat aware intermittent fasting could have benefits outside of weight loss.
As respondents plan for the year and their health decisions, baby steps might be the way to go. Seven in 10 respondents said they instantly feel more confident in themselves when they make just one healthy decision a day – with an average boost of 41 percent. The easiest healthy decision respondents are taking as a win include opting for water rather than a sugary drink, getting a full eight hours of sleep, and simply eating a salad.
“As we saw in the survey results, fad diets tend to be too restrictive and not a long-term solution for achieving whole body health,” Maser adds. “Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult—it’s often as simple as making one small change at a time.”