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

Get moving to slow cardiovascular aging

As people age and become less active, the muscle in the heart’s left ventricle—the chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood back out to the body—becomes stiffer. But as with other muscles, it’s possible to keep your heart muscles in shape longer and perhaps even reverse some of the effects of age by getting regular cardio exercise of sufficient intensity and duration. More »

The truth about metabolism

Metabolism speed is often used to explain whether people have an easy or difficult time losing and maintaining weight. While metabolism plays a small role in weight management, people can increase their metabolism speed to a degree by following a proper diet and exercise. (Locked) More »

Why am I losing weight?

Unexplained weight loss should be investigated. It may be caused by an overactive thyroid, cancer, or a chronic infection. More »

6 simple tips to reduce your blood pressure

Many women suddenly found themselves with a diagnosis of high blood pressure when the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association lowered the threshold for high blood pressure to 130/80 from 140/90. Small strategies, such as watching sodium intake and losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce blood pressure. More »

Beyond the morning buzz: How does coffee affect your heart?

People who drink about three cups of coffee a day are slightly less likely to develop heart disease or to die from it than people who don’t drink coffee. In sensitive people, the caffeine in coffee may trigger a pounding, irregular heartbeat. Drinking unfiltered (French press or Turkish) coffee may slightly raise cholesterol levels. But in general, even for people with heart disease, modest coffee consumption appears to be safe. However, people should not rely on coffee to spend less time sleeping, because sleep deprivation is very hard on the heart. (Locked) More »

How fast should you change your diet to lose weight?

When it's time to shed pounds, you may want to dive headfirst into a new diet plan. But rethink that strategy. Making dramatic lifestyle changes to lose weight can be challenging at least, and at worst may end in failure. Instead, think about reaching your desired weight gradually. That will allow you to eat many of the same foods you love and slowly master changes in your eating habits that will hopefully last for years to come.   More »

Lessons from “The Biggest Loser”

For people who are extremely overweight, a program of diet and exercise may seem like the healthy way to effect drastic weight loss. But a study of contestants on the popular reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" suggests that's not true. It turns out, drastic weight loss is associated with a slow metabolism and with low levels of hormones that affect hunger. "The Biggest Loser" seemed to offer tremendous hope. People who struggled with extreme obesity (a BMI of 40 or greater) competed to lose weight in a short amount of time. They worked with teams of doctors, nutritionists, and personal trainers. The contestant who experienced the most drastic weight loss by the end of the TV season (just 30 weeks) won the competition. In a 2016 study published in the journal Obesity, researchers followed 14 contestants during and after one season of the show. Contestants experienced drastic weight loss, losing an average of more than a hundred pounds each. By the final weigh-in, contestants' leptin levels had plummeted, so that they had very little of the hormone, rendering them constantly hungry. They also had a slow metabolism. In other words, their thyroid function—which governs metabolism and many other bodily functions—had slowed.  More »

5 mistakes that will sabotage a healthy diet

Common mistakes can trip up even the best intentions to stay on a particular eating plan. Mistakes include eating a diet that’s too restrictive, overeating in front of TV, keeping the wrong foods in the house, and excluding the wrong foods, such as fruits and healthy fats. One way to stick to a diet is to track food intake. This can be done using a notebook and writing down information or using an app (for an electronic gadget), such as My Fitness Pal (www.myfitnesspal.com) or the USDA’s Food Tracker (www.supertracker.usda.gov). (Locked) More »