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

Know your triglycerides: Here's why

Triglycerides are fatty substances (lipids) in the blood that, like “bad” LDL cholesterol, may contribute to risk of heart attacks and strokes. Unless triglycerides are very high, they do not require medication to lower them. Men with mildly to moderately high triglycerides are advised to exercise, lose weight if they are overweight, improve their diet, and reduce alcohol consumption to lower their risk and bring triglycerides to the normal range. Men at above-average cardiovascular risk with high triglycerides can benefit from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. (Locked) More »

What's the best way to lose weight?

Studies show that some commercial weight-loss plans can help people achieve modest weight loss, but there is little evidence of their long-term effectiveness. Calorie control, daily exercise, support, and counseling help with weight loss and maintenance. (Locked) More »

Gain more weight, get more GERD

A study in Norway found that weight gain was directly tied to experiencing new chronic heartburn symptoms. Losing weight is the long-term solution to heartburn, though acid-reducing medication soothes symptoms in the short run. More »

Get cracking: Why you should eat more nuts

Frequent nut eaters are less likely to die of any cause—especially heart disease—than people who rarely eat nuts. Nuts are good sources of protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and fiber. Eating them may help people avoid weight gain, may lower their artery-damaging LDL cholesterol, and may lower their blood pressure, all of which might decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. These potential benefits also apply to peanuts, which are technically not nuts but legumes. But peanuts are similar to tree nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios in terms of their nutrients. (Locked) More »

Scientifically proven diets that work

Many diets promise weight loss, but the choices narrow with regard to diets that prevent heart disease and stroke. Two backed by extensive research are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both share an emphasis on plant foods and healthy fats. The DASH diet is more specifically targeted to lower blood pressure and provides detailed guidance on what to eat. The Mediterranean diet is a general style of healthy eating rather than a detailed diet plan. (Locked) More »

Should you work chocolate into your diet?

Certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoa flavanols, have been shown to boost health, but the amount of flavanols in chocolate is not always listed. As a general rule, dark chocolate has more cocoa and therefore more flavanols than milk chocolate, but the amount can vary enormously depending on how the chocolate has been processed. The best way to get cocoa flavanols is from unsweetened cocoa powder that has not been processed using the Dutch method. This method includes alkali to reduce acidity, but reduces the flavanol content. (Locked) More »

New concerns about diet sodas

There are growing doubts about whether diet sodas help people lose weight and avoid diabetes. Research has shown that sugar-free sodas may be linked to the development of metabolic syndrome—a condition that often precedes or accompanies diabetes. Many artificial sweeteners may actually increase the brain’s desire for sugar. Even the soda container may pose problems. Many cans are lined with a substance called bisphenol A (BPA). Research has shown that people with higher levels of BPA in their body are more likely to have high blood pressure and heart trouble. (Locked) More »

Healthy diet: Is glycemic index the key?

A lower-glycemic-index diet focuses on foods that will minimize large or sudden increases in blood sugar. Although some evidence suggests it may help fight obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, a recent study found that using the glycemic index did not help lower the risk of heart disease in overweight people already eating a relatively healthy diet. To get the benefits of a low-glycemic-index diet without having to look up the glycemic index of foods, cut back on highly processed grains like white flour and white rice, starchy foods like white potatoes, and added sugars. More »