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

Weighing in on the value of the body mass index

The body mass index (BMI) is a common way to estimate body fat and is based on a person’s weight in relation to their height. In the United States, two-thirds of adults have a BMI in the overweight or obese category. But a waist circumference measurement is an equally important method for assessing a person’s risk of heart disease and other problems linked to excess body fat. For women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or more signals a high risk; for men, it’s 40 inches or higher.  (Locked) More »

Malnutrition alert: Load your freezer with healthy foods

For older adults who can’t always go to the store, it’s smart to keep the freezer stocked with healthy, fresh foods all year through. Staples include a variety of proteins (meat, poultry, and seafood), fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t matter if fruit and vegetables come from the produce aisle or from the frozen food section, as long as the frozen foods are not precooked and have no additives or sauces. It’s best to try to avoid exposing frozen foods to air by covering tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then placing them in sealed, labeled freezer bags. (Locked) More »

What's new in nutritional guidelines?

The new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer advice to encourage healthier eating patterns based on the latest nutritional science. Older men should pay attention to four areas: varying their diet, focusing more on healthy fat than total fat, curbing their daily sugar intake, and cutting sodium while adding potassium.  More »