Diet and Weight Loss

Activity tracker may not be the key to weight loss

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

A recent study found that using an activity tracker, in addition to a careful diet and increased exercise, may not help people lose weight or keep it off. The reasons why are unclear and further studies are needed to determine how, if at all, these devices might aid in weight loss.

Less than 1 in 10 teens gets enough exercise: What this means for them and says about us

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Teens don’t exercise enough, and with a third of U.S. adults classified as obese, it’s important that exercise is encouraged in children and teens. Starting healthy habits when they’re young keeps kids healthy into adulthood. Studies show that obese adults rarely lose the weight, so it’s better to keep the weight off in the first place. A lot has to do with our biology but also our lifestyle, and we can change the latter. So let’s get our children and teens moving.

Are fresh juice drinks as healthy as they seem?

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

For people on the go, it’s easy to turn to a fruit juice or a smoothie when you don’t have time to sit and eat a full meal, especially when this seems like a healthy option. There are definite benefits to this decision. After all, cold pressed juices and smoothies are often served fresh, and they contain most of the vitamins and minerals from the pressed fruit. However these fruity drinks can also raise blood sugar levels and pack on the calories, even if they are made with healthy ingredients.

Summer is the perfect time to fine tune your diet

Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD

If you’re feeling down about not sticking to your New Year’s Resolution to eat better, don’t fret! Summer is the perfect time to kick start your new eating routine. It’s important to establish an eating pattern and stay with it. Eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are some great ways to eat healthfully. These tips can help you eat swap the sugar for fruit and the red meat for lean protein.

The big benefits of plain water

Mallika Marshall, MD
Mallika Marshall, MD, Contributing Editor

Many Americans opt to quench their thirst with drink sodas, juices, and sports drinks instead plain water. Now, a recently published study has confirmed what researchers have been saying for a while: upping your water consumption can help you avoid excess calories and control your weight. So, next time you’re thirsty, try water instead — it’s free, refreshing, and good for you!

Sugar: Its many disguises

Uma Naidoo, MD
Uma Naidoo, MD, Contributor

Excess sugar in the diet can cause a whole host of health problems, both physical and mental. If you’re concerned about cutting down on sugar, you might think you’re covered if you skip the soda and pastries. But there are plenty of hidden and added sugars lurking in all kinds of foods — even those traditionally considered “healthy.” Here, we’ve given you some tips on what to watch out for.

Why pregnant women should avoid artificially sweetened beverages

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Many pregnant women turn to zero-calorie artificially sweetened beverages to help avoid weight gain. However, these beverages may actually cause weight gain—and even alter your digestion and sense of taste. Recent research suggests that pregnant women who drink diet beverages to avoid weight gain may end up with heavier babies. So, if you’re pregnant, you may want to rethink that zero-calorie soda. After all, the old adage about “eating for two” is a reminder to eat and drink in ways that keep both you and your baby healthy.

Exercise: It does so much more than burn calories

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

You’ve probably heard that if you want to lose weight, it’s as simple as “eat less, exercise more.” A recent study suggests that a lot of exercise doesn’t always translate into a lot of extra calories burned. But even if you never lose a single pound with exercise, it has so many other benefits for your body and mind that it’s always worth it to be active. Give it a try today!

Could lack of sleep trigger a food “addiction”?

Stuart Quan, MD
Stuart Quan, MD, Contributing Editor

Many people cite a lack of “motivation” or “willpower” as the reason that overweight people can’t control their eating habits. But a wealth of evidence has come to light that obesity is linked to insufficient sleep. Most recently, an experimental study has found that restricted sleep can increase the levels of brain chemicals that make eating pleasurable. Could it be that insufficient sleep makes the brain addicted to the act of eating?

How useful is the body mass index (BMI)?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The body mass index (BMI) has long been considered an important way to gauge your risk for many chronic conditions, from arthritis to sleep apnea to heart disease. But like all medical measures, BMI is not perfect — and a recent study has revealed that BMI alone may not be a solid measure of cardiovascular health. Here, we’ve examined the pros and cons of the BMI, and whether it’s a number worth knowing.