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

Why the Mediterranean diet is so good for your heart

The Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and olive oil, is good for the heart. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk for heart disease, strokes, and deaths from heart disease 30% compared with a regular low-fat diet. (Locked) More »

Weight loss for better sleep

Losing weight, especially in the belly, improves the quality of sleep for overweight and obese people. This may be because weight loss reduces the risk of sleep apnea. The best way to lteose weight in the belly is with exercise and a healthy diet. Doctors recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as swimming or brisk walking) each week. Shorter but more frequent exercise sessions have the same physical impact as longer exercise sessions. (Locked) More »

Heart-healthy recipes

The following original recipes were created by a registered dietitian. They are easy to make (even for a beginner cook), delicious (even for picky eaters), and healthy—they adhere to the healthy eating guidelines outlined in Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. Bon appetit! Makes 12 servings, 1 muffin each 2¼ cups oat bran¼ cup packed brown sugar1 tablespoon baking powder1 tablespoon white sugar2 tablespoons ground cinnamon2 tablespoons safflower oil2 large egg whites½ cup nonfat milk¾ cup natural unsweetened applesauce1 cup dried cranberries More »

Fight fat to help your heart

Body fat is dangerous to the heart, in part because it increases the risk for conditions that contribute to heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The fat located in the abdomen—called visceral fat—is particularly bad for the heart. Measuring waist circumference can help determine whether a woman has metabolic syndrome—a cluster of factors that can increase heart risks. Cutting portion sizes, eating less sugar and fat, and exercising are effective ways to help banish belly fat. More »

Lifestyle changes help keep weight off after menopause

Postmenopausal women who eat fewer desserts and fried foods, drink fewer sugary beverages, eat more fish, and eat at restaurants less often are better able to lose weight and keep it off. Over the long term, eating more fruits and vegetables and less meats and cheeses is also important for weight loss. (Locked) More »

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 »

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 »