Have you ever hear of the K.I.S.S. principle? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping things simple is important for behavior change. The psychology of changing behavior (and yes, eating is a behavior) says the simpler the change, the more easily it’s adopted. The more complex the change, the more difficult it is to make the change permanently. And when it comes to dieting, the single biggest success factor is compliance – the ability to stick with the diet long-term. That’s where simplicity comes into play.
When you are choosing a diet to follow, first make sure it is backed by science. Make sure there are good scientific references that support the science, and the more references the better. (Hint: to find the research on any topic, use Google Scholar.) Second, choose a diet that you think you can follow for the long-term. Short-term weight loss diets are not only not effective, but they are also damaging to your metabolism. Finally, and most importantly, look for a diet that is simple and easy to follow. A low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet fits all three requirements. If you are interested in learning more about how easy it is to stay on a keto diet when you have the right information, check out this FREE book offer from the BodyReboot program.
I mentioned that successful behavior change is a psychological matter where simplicity is important. Check out this article from PsyBlog about a study that shows that simple diets get better results because people are more likely to follow them.
People Are More Successful Following Simple Diets
Simple diets lead to more weight loss than those that are complex, research suggests. The reason is that the simpler the diet, the easier it is to stick to.
When choosing between different diets, consider how many rules and plans each has, the study’s authors advise. Then, choose the one that seems easiest — it is the best bet for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.
Professor Peter Todd, study co-author, said:
“For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it.”
Successful dieting is about more than just willpower, said Professor Jutta Mata, the study’s first author:
“Even if you believe you can succeed, thinking that the diet is cognitively complex can undermine your efforts.”
The study tested two different types of diets on 390 women. The first was a popular German recipe diet that provides a straightforward shopping list and meal plan. It is relatively simple because there are few options.
The other diet tested was Weight Watchers, which involves counting calories. This is a more complex diet that gives point values to foods and requires adding up the totals. It is more flexible, but takes greater mental effort.
The results showed that women were more likely to stick to the simpler German recipe list and meal plan.
Professor Mata said:
“If they decide to go with a more complex diet, which could be more attractive for instance if it allows more flexibility, they should evaluate how difficult they find doing the calculations and monitoring their consumption.
If they find it very difficult, the likelihood that they will prematurely give up the diet is higher and they should try to find a different plan.”
Changing our diet is changing one of our most ingrained behaviors – eating. Psychology tells us that we will be more successful at changing our behavior when we keep it simple (K.I.S.S.). In general, people have more success in following simpler diets than they do following complex ones.
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1 – Mata, Jutta, Peter M. Todd, and Sonia Lippke. “When weight management lasts. Lower perceived rule complexity increases adherence.” Appetite 54.1 (2010): 37-43.