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

Overweight vs overfat: Is your scale lying to you?

For decades, the body mass index (BMI) has been the gold standard for gauging obesity-related heart disease risk, but this tool doesn’t always tell the whole story. BMI extrapolates a person’s the percentage of body fat from height and weight. But BMI misclassifies nearly 50% of normal-weight people who have higher heart disease risk from unhealthy distribution of body fat, meaning that a person can be overfat even without being overweight. (Locked) More »

Not so fast: Pros and cons of the newest diet trend

The obesity epidemic has spawned a cottage industry of weight loss schemes.  Currently in vogue is intermittent fasting, which involves alternating intervals of extreme calorie reduction with periods of normal eating. Proponents of this regimen claim that it helps shed pounds faster traditional diets as well as reduce inflammation and other heart disease risks. While getting rid of excess body fat will improve a person’s metabolic profile and lower cardiovascular risk, there is no strong evidence that fasting adds health benefits beyond any other weight loss strategy. More »

Food trends and your heart

The type and amount of fat, carbohydrate, sugar, and salt in our food supply has changed over the years. Some of these trends (such as the banning of harmful trans fatty acids) have been positive. But to date, efforts to reduce sugar and sodium haven’t been as successful. When shopping for processed foods—anything bagged, packaged, canned, or bottled—people should check the Nutrition Facts label. The healthiest choices contain less than 5% of the Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium, and less than 12 grams of sugar per serving. (Locked) More »

Struggling with emotional eating?

Some people cope with difficult situations by reaching for comfort food. Chowing down on ice cream or macaroni and cheese can make everything seem like it's going to be okay. And there may be a reason why, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Lose Weight and Keep It Off. Turns out, there are parts of the brain that are rewarded from eating high-fat or high-sugar foods. And more than a decade of psychological research suggests that any behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated. More »

Think twice before going gluten-free

It appears that gluten does not prevent heart problems. People who eat low amounts of gluten often have diets low in whole grains. Restricting whole grains may be bad for heart health. More »