Kasey Jo Orvidas taking a selfie with text saying you probably shouldn't diet

How to know if you’re ready to diet (and what to do if you’re not!)

dieting fat loss how to diet reverse diet May 16, 2020

Here’s a fresh take that you probably don’t hear often enough in the fitness industry: 

You probably shouldn’t diet. 

Not because dieting is inherently bad (it’s not - though, some are better than others!).⁣

Not because there’s anything wrong with wanting to change your body composition (there’s not).⁣

Not because you can’t handle the challenge (you can).⁣

You probably shouldn’t diet because you aren’t ready to diet. 

As much as our society promotes dieting 24/7 365⁣, I would argue that most people aren’t ready to dive into a fat loss phase.

Here are some of the main reasons why you might not be ready: 


1. You Struggle to Adhere to Your Maintenance Calories

If it’s very difficult for you to stick to higher calories (not in a deficit), you will likely have a hard time being adherent when hunger starts to hit while dieting. 

Hunger is pretty much inevitable during a dieting phase, so you have to be able to be consistent with a higher calorie intake before you can even consider reducing your calories. 

If you just jump into a calorie deficit, you’ll find yourself struggling to be consistent and won’t achieve your desired results. 


2. You Haven’t Prioritized the Basics

You aren’t ready to enter a diet phase if you aren’t prioritizing critical elements like sleep, coping with stress, eating healthy, water intake, and exercise.

You have to cover the basics before you start thinking about entering a calorie deficit because all of those elements will impact your ability to lose fat. They will also impact how easy or difficult it is for you to remain adherent to your calorie deficit.


3. You Haven’t Spent Enough Time in a Maintenance Phase


If you’ve only been NOT dieting for a short period of time, you shouldn’t think about reducing your calories. 

FYI, over-eating on the weekends but restricting during the week doesn’t equal “not dieting.” 

Nor does a 4-week reverse diet

You need to spend a considerable amount of time in a maintenance phase to allow your body to adapt to operating at a higher calorie intake because you can’t keep reducing your calories forever. 

4. You Live on the Treadmill 

Needing to do a ton of cardio or keep up high activity levels to maintain your current weight⁣ is another sign that you aren’t ready to enter a dieting phase. 

This goes off of what I said above about your body adapting to a higher calorie intake. 

If your body has gotten used to operating at a low calorie intake and the only way for you to maintain your current weight is by doing a large amount of cardio or other activities, then you’ll have to reduce your calories or increase your activity level even further to achieve fat loss.

Chances are that neither option is sustainable, in which case you’re probably better off doing a reverse diet and planning a diet phase down the road. 


5. You Have a Lot of Stress

Say you‘re going through a stressful period of your life or foresee one in the future (e.g., starting a new job, moving, etc.). 

None of this is conducive to entering a dieting phase because you’ll have a hard enough time dealing with the stressors in your life, so your adherence to a calorie deficit likely won’t be sufficient enough to get you to achieve your goals. 


6. You Don’t Have the Right Mindset ⁣

Simply put, you must have a growth mindset if you want to successfully lose fat. 

If your mindset about dieting sucks, then you’re pretty much destined to fail. 

I’ve extensively written about the importance of mindset for success in your fitness journey. You can read more about it here, here, and here

Those aren’t the only posts I have about growth mindset, but they are a good start. 


7. You Need to Work on Your Relationship With Food

If you’ve got a messy relationship with food and/or exercise, now is not the time to enter a diet phase. 

If you don’t have a solid relationship with food and you enter a caloric deficit, you’ll likely be consumed by thoughts about food. 


When do I get to eat next?

How many calories does that have?

How many calories do I have left for the day?

Food! Food! Food!


The same thing can happen with exercise. 


Ugh, I can’t stand the thought of exercise. 

No days off! Gotta burn those calories.


Either way, you have to work on improving that relationship before you start thinking about losing fat. 


Don’t Start Dieting Just Yet

I really encourage you to keep these things in mind before seeking to lose fat–especially if you want to actually keep the weight off. 

It doesn’t matter if summer is around the corner or if you’re about to go on a vacation. Diving into a calorie deficit before you’re ready is not a good idea. 

Because if you do, you could very likely, at the very least, end up spinning your wheels and wasting time. But at worst, you could damage yourself mentally and physiologically.⁣

This isn’t an exhaustive “probably don’t diet if” list, either.⁣

If you want to talk to a coach to discuss your goals and find out if you’re ready to diet, click here to learn more. 


You can also check out our FREE self-sabotage workshop, which will help you uncover the “why” behind your cravings, all-or-nothing thinking, and other psychological barriers that are getting in the way of your success. 

Click here for access!

Check out the original post here.


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Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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