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

BMI Calculator

To estimate your BMI, enter your height and weight below, then click the "Calculate" button. BMI INTERPRETATION More »

Exercise and weight loss: the importance of resting energy expenditure

One way that exercise helps promote weight loss is by increasing resting energy expenditure. That's how quickly you burn energy even at rest. Since resting energy expenditure accounts for 60% to 75% of the calories you burn each day, any increase in resting energy expenditure is extremely important to your weight-loss effort. More »

Ask the doctor: How you burn calories matters when you're trying to lose weight

Exercising more and eating less can help people lose weight. However, it’s not just a matter of willpower. Not everyone digests food with the same amount of efficiency. And not everyone burns calories with the same efficiency, possibly because of genetics, hormones, or types of fat. So some people have great trouble losing weight even when they exercise more and eat less, and other people never seem to gain weight despite eating a lot of food. (Locked) More »

Do you need weight-loss coaching?

Intensive lifestyle interventions may help overweight people with heart disease lose weight, which can counter high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other problems that raise heart disease risk. Available at major medical centers around the country, the programs feature trained experts who provide individual and group support about behavior changes that foster healthy eating and exercise. The training includes information about meal planning and preparation, controlling portion sizes, and tracking food intake, activity, and body weight.  More »

Boost the health of your holiday buffet

Before going to a holiday party, it’s helpful to develop strategies to avoid drinking too much alcohol and overeating. Tips include eating before leaving the house, policing portion sizes, eating slowly, and leaving the table when the meal is over instead of lingering. Limiting alcohol intake to one drink, either before or after a meal, will also protect one’s resolve and limit calories. Enlisting the help of a buddy can also help someone resist temptation.  More »

Sleep apnea solutions

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common in men. It happens when the upper airway intermittently pinches closed overnight, disturbing sleep and starving the brain of oxygen. OSA is linked to poorer heart health and increased risk of accidents because of daytime fatigue. The most effective treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or variations on that therapy. These require wearing a face mask tethered to a bedside air pump. For people who cannot tolerate CPAP, several options are available, although they are not as effective. These include supplemental oxygen, surgery, or wearing a special oral appliance at night. Surgery is not generally effective for mild to moderate OSA. More »