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

Diary, home meals keys to weight loss

A new study finds that skipping meals and eating in restaurants are counterproductive to women who are trying to lose weight. On the other hand, keeping a food journal can help women shed pounds because it helps them pay closer attention to the foods they’re eating. (Locked) More »

Weight-loss drug review

  The recent FDA approval of a new medication to treat obesity may make it seem like a cure is at hand. Lorcaserin (Belviq) was the first new weight-loss drug to be introduced in more than a decade. Belviq suppresses hunger by stimulating a receptor for the chemical messenger serotonin, which regulates fullness and metabolism. But there's no magic bullet for shedding excess weight—diet pills promote only modest weight loss as long as you are a good candidate for drug therapy and you use the pills correctly. Even then, you'll need to consider whether the risks of these drugs (which range from heart problems and liver damage to possible addiction) are worth the weight you'll lose.   More »

Drop pounds to relieve back pain

Carrying extra pounds contributes to disc degeneration in the spine, particularly in the lower back region. Losing weight can take pressure off the discs and ease back pain. (Locked) More »

New options for treating sleep apnea

New options for people with obstructive sleep apnea include sleep testing at home and new options for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. For people who are overweight, losing weight can also improve breathing during sleep. (Locked) More »

Cutting red meat-for a longer life

Red meat: in addition to raising the risk for colorectal cancer and other health problems, it can actually shorten your life. That's the clear message of the latest research based on data from two ongoing, decades-long Harvard School of Public Health studies of nurses and other health professionals. It appears "healthy meat consumption" has become an oxymoron. More »

Losing weight may require trial and error

No weight-loss approach works for every heart patient. If you have tried different diets and are diligent about exercise, but those extra pounds won't budge, you may not have found the right approach or combination of approaches for you. "Everything works for some people, but no treatment is equally effective for everyone," says Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. "No method is fundamentally better than any other. The key is finding out which therapy is best for you, and that takes trial and error," he says. When you are trying to lose weight, Dr. Kaplan advises you to take it one step at a time. "Try what feels good, don't despair, and don't give up.” (Locked) More »

Major fat-burning discovery

  Harvard researchers have discovered a hormone released by exercise that turns energy-storing white fat cells into energy-burning brown fat cells.   More »