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 to maintain weight loss

People decide to lose weight for many reasons. Maybe they're motivated by serious illness, or they don't like the way they look. Whatever the reason, they all face the same challenge once they experience weight loss success, and that challenge is how to maintain weight loss. As reported in the Harvard Special Health Report Health Solutions to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, much of the original research on how to maintain weight loss comes from a long-term project known as the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). - The project has been tracking some 10,000 people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off for many years. While evidence can't prove that the approaches these people use are the key to upholding weight loss success, their habits jibe with many recognized strategies to maintain weight. More »

Learn how to reduce salt with these 5 tips

If you're like most people, chances are you eat far more than the recommended amount of sodium, one of the main components of salt. Current federal guidelines advise getting no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily, but the average American consumes about 3,500 mg a day. Strong evidence from more than 100 clinical trials shows that a lower sodium diet can decrease blood pressure. High blood pressure, which affects one in three American adults, is a key culprit in heart disease. More »

How to cut back on sugar and salt

Guidelines recommend limiting sugar to 10% of calories and sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day. Avoiding sweetened beverages and processed and packaged foods is key to reducing intake. Using spices and eating whole fruits can ease cravings for both salt and sugar. (Locked) More »

How to avoid the health risks of too much salt

Too much dietary sodium may increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Dietitians recommend limiting sodium intake to 500 or 600 milligrams per meal, and making sure it comes from healthy sources, like whole-grain breads and cereals. Sodium content is listed on Nutrition Facts labels on packaged food. Another recommendation is to flavor food with spices, such as basil and ginger, instead of salt. It’s best to choose fresh foods, and to avoid processed foods, which are often very high in sodium. (Locked) More »