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

How false assumptions about weight may affect your health

Obesity can affect a woman’s health, even when they’re otherwise healthy. Feelings about weight may prompt some women to skip needed appointments or avoid preventive care. In addition, health care providers may be prone to weight bias, and that may result in women with obesity receiving substandard treatment. (Locked) More »

Why walnuts may help with weight loss

Eating walnuts appears to activate a brain region involved in impulse control. This may help explain why people who eat nuts regularly are less likely to be overweight and have heart disease. More »

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. 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 »