LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At least 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and they spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products. Crash diets promise quick and easy results, but the results usually don't last.
If 2023 is the year you plan to shed those pandemic pounds, you may be considering a diet, but experts say the first rule of dieting is not to do it.
"Our body is always trying to reach homeostasis and it is anticipating, 'Oh, you put me through a famine, a diet, a few times now, I need to anticipate for the next famine,' and that's actually what leads to weight cycling," explained registered dietitian Ashley Hinds. "Typically, that's why dieting actually causes weight gain over time."
A large UCLA review following thousands of dieters long-term found at least a third to two thirds of people who went on a diet regained more weight than they lost within four to five years.
"It's a lifestyle change, we're not big on the word 'diet,'" said registered dietician Roohe Ahmad.
Ahmad suggests focusing on eating three balanced daily meals that consist of mostly vegetables, some starch and protein cooked in a healthy fat instead of dieting.
"You know, starting off with breakfast, lunch and dinner and in between if needed, [and] then you have a snack," she said.
But don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods completely.
Hinds said that when one diets, we think too much about a certain "bad" food and it ends up being all we can think about.
One way to figure out how many daily calories you need is the "12 calories per pound" rule.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your body uses roughly 1,800 calories a day. If you stick to that, you'll stop gaining.
Adding physical activity will help you shed excess pounds over time, but instead of counting every calorie, Cleveland Clinic researchers say their findings reveal too few people listen to their body's cues.
"Intuitive eating" is all about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.
Some experts believe the eating style that has been shown to produce the most positive results over time is the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of whole foods, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.