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Weight Loss

The Dieting Cycle: Why Losing Weight Can Be So Hard

by Dr Don Grant (MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip Orth Med)

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

Diets can’t ride bikes; however, they can make you feel like you’re riding round in circles. You may find yourself on an endless cycle of beginning, stalling, breaking, and then restarting diets. 

A dieting cycle makes weight loss seem really, really hard. You’ll find it difficult to lose weight and keep it off when you feel you’re forever back to square one. 

Please don’t get trapped by a destructive dieting cycle. Below we’ve explained some ways you can achieve your weight loss goals in a realistic time frame.


What is a dieting/binge cycle? 

A dieting cycle is much like a trap.

This is on the basis that a cycle follows the same patterns over and over again...

You begin a diet, find yourself craving the foods that you have removed/restricted, give in to these cravings, binge eat, feel guilty, start the process again; and then find that you have lost little or no weight. 

Sound familiar?

The dieting cycle is a trap because you go full circle and find yourself at square one, with little sign of progress and achievement. You may even find yourself GAINING even more weight as the process of binge-eating worsens.


Why the dieting cycle makes weight loss hard?

Dieting is about becoming healthier, both in body and mind. But for many, it is most importantly about losing weight — and then keeping that weight off on a more permanent basis.

The dieting cycle makes weight loss harder because the tangible results of your diets become minimal, invisible, or non-existent. This means that a typical dieting cycle will:

  • Take away any sense of achievement
  • Leave you feeling guilty
  • Make your goal of weight loss a burden.

Once you have become trapped in a position, both physically and mentally, where you do not feel you are moving forward with your diet, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to break the cycle. 

This makes weight loss harder because it then becomes something that is working against you.



How can I break the cycle and begin to lose weight healthily?

There is plenty that you can do break your dieting cycle. 


Healthy diet and exercise schedule 

The foundation of your weight loss programme should be a healthy diet and an exercise schedule. 

Your diet and exercise schedule should motivate you, not put shackles upon your life and makes you feel your weight loss is a burden – while it may not be easy, it shouldn’t feel impossible. Don’t try to ‘build Rome in a day’, and start with achievable and manageable tasks to build confidence and motivation.


Weight loss shakes and supplements 

Weight loss shakes and supplements are low-calorie energy composition foods. 

They are designed to help you lose weight in the following ways:

  • By reducing the number of calories within your diet
  • Lowering the amount that you think about what you eat
  • Stopping you from controlling the portions of your food

Among the different examples available are: 

  • Meal replacement bars 
  • Protein drinks
  • Smoothies
  • Soups
  • Weight loss shakes


Weight loss medication

Medication for weight loss is only given out under certain conditions. Under no circumstances should you buy unlicensed weight loss pills online. They could turn out to ineffective, or worse — dangerous.

There is genuine prescription medication available to help you to lose weight:  

Orlistat – coming in capsules, the active ingredient of this medication is the drug Orlistat. During clinical trials, it has been demonstrated that taking Orlistat will help you lose 10% of your body weight in one year of taking it.

You can read Orlistat reviews here.

Xenical – this medication is a branded version of the drug Orlistat. Trials of Xenical have shown that if you take it alongside a healthy diet and exercise schedule, you can lose 1 extra pound per pound that you lose through natural weight loss. 

Alli – like Xenical, Ali is a branded version of the drug Orlistat. Studies into Ali have demonstrated that you’re able to improve your weight loss by up to 50% a week. This is an over-the-counter weight loss treatment, unlike the prescription-only Orlistat and Xenical.


Losing weight can be hard. You have to change your lifestyle in a multitude of ways, and educate yourself about exercise, nutrition, and the biology of weight loss.  If you get stuck in a dieting cycle then it can make losing weight even more difficult for you. 

If you feel that you are stuck in a dieting cycle, or would just like to further explore weight loss medication, we advise that you speak to your GP, or a registered health professional like one of our pharmacists for more advice.

Authored By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Published on: 29-11-2017

Last modified on: 29-11-2019

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Reviewed on: 29-11-2019

Next review date: 29-11-2021

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

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