Want to Stick to Your Diet? Don't Tell Your Friends

If you're trying to lose weight, apps can help you design meal plans, count calories, figure out portion sizes and create a shopping list. (Photo: Billion Photos/Shutterstock)

Hoping to shed a few pounds in 2018? If you are, you might think it's a good idea to get your friends on board to bolster your social support and increase the odds that you'll stick to your goal. But according to a new study, you're better off keeping your weight loss plans to yourself. Here's why.

According to this study published in the journal Obesity, more than 75 percent of respondents said they "never" or "rarely" felt supported by friends or family when they were trying to lose weight. In fact, researchers found that participants who didn't receive support from friends were the most likely to shed pounds.

Wait, what? Wouldn't you need help from your friends if you're trying to do something as life-altering as losing weight? Actually, the answer is no, and the reasons are as complicated and diverse as the friendships themselves. Jealously, insecurity and competitiveness are three likely reasons that friends have trouble supporting other friends who are trying to change their diet.

If you always go out for burgers and beers with a close group of friends, they may feel judged or undermined if you order salad and water. And if you post on social media about your trips to the gym or weight loss successes, friends who aren't as comfortable with their own habits may start to question yours. At the very least, it can make conversations awkward or even boring for those who aren't into counting calories and carbs.

Eating is a social tradition

Just think about how many of your social interactions with friends revolve around food. You get together with friends for lunch, for drinks after work, or a snack-fueled gab-fest at your place. When one of you goes on a diet, those social interactions disappear. Friendships that were built (or strongly relied) on food may start to crumble when that food is taken away. In a survey conducted by Nak'd Wholefoods, 26 percent of participants found it annoying when their friends went on diets and 25 percent said their friends were grumpy and miserable when dieting. For these reasons, one in four participants said they have sabotaged a friend's diet by tempting them with unhealthy treats, inviting them out for dinner and drinks, or flat-out talking their friends out of dieting.

But that doesn't mean you should go it alone. In this review, also published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that dieters who had strong social support were more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who did not. According to the study, people who reached out to in-person weight-loss groups or connected online with others who were also trying to shed extra pounds significantly increased their chances of success.

So if you're trying to lose weight, it's important to have support, just don't count on that support coming from your bar-hopping friends.