Diet & Weight Loss

A healthy weight is an important element of good health. How much you eat—and what you eat—play central roles in maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight. Exercise is the other key actor.

For years, low-fat diets were thought to be the best way to lose weight. A growing body of evidence shows that low-fat diets often don't work, in part because these diets often replace fat with easily digested carbohydrates.

Hundreds of diets have been created, many promising fast and permanent weight loss. Remember the cabbage soup diet? The grapefruit diet? How about the Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle diet, the caveman diet, the Subway diet, the apple cider vinegar diet, and a host of forgettable celebrity diets?

The truth is, almost any diet will work if it helps you take in fewer calories. Diets do this in two main ways:

  • getting you to eat certain "good" foods and/or avoid "bad" ones
  • changing how you behave and the ways you think or feel about food

The best diet for losing weight is one that is good for all parts of your body, from your brain to your toes, and not just for your waistline. It is also one you can live with for a long time. In other words, a diet that offers plenty of good tasting and healthy choices, banishes few foods, and doesn't require an extensive and expensive list of groceries or supplements.

One diet that fills the bill is a Mediterranean-type diet. Such a diet—and there are many variations—usually includes:

  • several servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • whole-grain breads and cereals
  • healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and olive oil
  • lean protein from poultry, fish, and beans
  • limited amounts of red meat
  • moderate wine consumption with meals (no more than two glasses a day for men; no more than one a day for women

A Mediterranean-style diet is a flexible eating pattern. People who follow such diets tend to have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and other chronic conditions.

Diet & Weight Loss Articles

Weight-loss devices: How they work

Weight-loss devices—including gastric balloons, a vagus nerve stimulator, and an external stomach pump—may help people eat or absorb less food. They may appeal to people who don’t want to undergo weight-loss surgery, which involves a permanent change to the gastrointestinal tract. But the devices don’t come close to providing the same weight-loss benefits, and their long-term effectiveness and safety remains unknown. (Locked) More »

Why middle-age spread is a health threat

Visceral fat — the padding around the abdominal organs — produces hormones and other molecules that promote inflammation, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise and avoiding simple sugars can help reduce visceral fat. (Locked) More »

Get cooking at home

Many older men have never developed or have lost touch with basic culinary skills, and thus have gotten used to eating out and becoming dependent on processed and prepared foods. Yet, by learning some basic cooking techniques, older men can make a small number of stable items that can help create healthy, low-calorie, and inexpensive meals at home. (Locked) More »

Spotting whole grains at the grocery store

Some people may be confused about what constitutes a whole grain. Whole grains are seeds or kernels that have three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Common varieties of whole grains include wheat, barley, brown rice, corn, rye, oats, and wild rice. Buy whole grains in a package or in various products, such as whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal, or whole-grain crackers. Avoid refined grains that have only the endosperm, such as white flour and white rice. (Locked) More »