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Diet

How To Lose Weight Through Nutrition

Written by Michael Garrico

Weight Loss. It's such a seemingly simple topic.

Yet it causes so much confusion that it's a $20 Billion industry in the United States every year.

Almost 108 million US adults claim to be on a diet, starting a diet, or interested in going on a diet, yet an estimated 64 percent of the population is overweight and obese. In fact, despite their best weight loss efforts, the average person gains over one pound every year.

How can this happen? How can a society so thoroughly obsessed with weight loss continuously find itself fatter and unhealthier than ever? Something must be terribly wrong.

Well, it is. The obesity crisis in America has become a widespread epidemic. People everywhere are waging a war for their own health without the proper tools in place to understand what they are fighting against, much less HOW they need to fight it.

The constant popularity of damaging fad diets and food crazes shows us all just how little most people truly know about their health and well-being.

The confusion ends now. It's time to regain control of your own life and start taking your weight loss journey seriously. It's time to face the facts.

Biking is a great way to get your cardio workout in.

In this article, we are going to walk you through every aspect of weight loss, from the current science to common myths about what foods you should be eating. Throughout the article will be resources you can use to learn more and benefit yourself farther.

Your questions about where to start and what constitutes a healthy diet will be answered, and you will find yourself ready to face the reality of your health and well being in order to give yourself the best shot of living the healthiest life you can.

Are you ready? The journey starts now.

The Scary Reasons Why You Need To Address Your Weight Today

Before we delve into the details of weight loss, we need to address whether or not losing weight is actually important for most people.

After all, as overweight becomes the new normal, shouldn't we all accept that society is changing and people look a little larger these days? Perhaps instead of focusing as a society on weight loss, the idea should be to accept all body types, no matter the size.

This is all well and good, but the truth of the matter is that there are some deadly serious reasons why being overweight is bad for you. In fact, a Journal of the American Medical Association study reports that obesity is responsible for an estimated 112,000 deaths per year.

Carrying just a few extra pounds around your middle puts you at greater risk for over 50 chronic diseases, and being classified as obese can quickly lop off over 20 years off your life.

Decades of research has revealed that being overweight takes a terrible toll on both your physical health and your emotional happiness, as you can see below.

Heart Disease

Put your hands together for heart health.

Your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) goes up with every extra pound you carry. As a condition, it causes waxy plaque buildups to coat the insides of your coronary arteries, narrowing or blocking these arteries until your heart isn't able to pump blood through them as well.

These arteries are responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout your body, and when the pressure to pump becomes too much, you may suffer heart failure or a full-fledged heart attack.

The larger you are the greater the risk you will suffer a heart attack at a younger age, possibly even twelve years younger than the general population, according to some studies.

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force necessary for the heart to pump blood through the arteries. Having high blood pressure for long periods of time can damage your body in several different ways, including heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.

The chances that you will have high blood pressure are higher if you are overweight or obese.

Type 2 Diabetes

You get Diabetes when your body's blood sugar (glucose levels) are too high. In healthy bodies, food gets broken down into glucose, which is carried through the cells of the body, where it is then broken down by the hormone insulin in order to be turned into energy.

When you have Type 2 Diabetes, your body's cells can't use insulin properly, so it overcompensates and makes too much of the hormone until it reverses and can't make enough to function normally.

Medical cases of Diabetes have been exploding in recent years. Since 1987, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has tripled to 20.9 million. Most people that have diabetes are overweight, as obesity increases the risk of developing it by over 20 times.

Diabetes is a leading cause of early death, and can lead to chronic heart disease, kidney disease, strokes and blindness.

Cancer

Being overweight increases your risk for developing many types of cancer, including colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder.

Females that are overweight are four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer and breast cancer because their body fat produces excess levels of estrogen, a hormone that is linked to both cancers.

Leptin, another hormone that is involved with weight gain, also increases the likelihood that you will develop cancer.

Obese woman also have a more difficult time recovering from breast reconstruction. They get fewer benefits from chemotherapy than healthy-weighted women, often because their bodies can't handle the high dosages required to fully kill off cancer cells.

Osteoarthritis

A common joint problem in the knees, hips and lower back, osteoarthritis occurs when the tissue that protects these joints wears away from use.

Being overweight puts more pressure on joints in day to day life, causing them to experience more wear and tear. Arthritis cases caused by obesity has risen to over 18 percent of all cases in the US.

Stroke

Being overweight raises your risk of chronic heart disease, meaning that plaque builds up in your arteries until the blockage is so severe that it causes problems.

Sometimes arteries rupture, which causes a blood clot to form. If the clot is close to your brain, it blocks the flow of blood and oxygen and causes you to have a stroke, which can lead to severe paralysis and even death.

Reproductive Issues

The hormonal imbalances due to obesity can cause menstrual issues, pregnancy complications and even infertility in women.

Gallstones

Found in the gallbladder, gallstones are hard pieces of stone-like material that are made from cholesterol.

When they build up, they can cause severe stomach and back pain. Being overweight puts you at a greater risk of producing gallstones, and often results in your gallbladder getting swollen to a size that no longer works like it needs to.

Self Confidence

Though the physical effects of obesity can't be overstated, sometimes the most severe impacts are emotional.

In our image-obsessed society, many people find that what they weigh has a direct impact on how confident they feel about themselves. Being overweight causes many people to feel shy and even embarrassed to go out in public.

Depression is another side effect of being overweight. A study from the Archives of General Psychiatry found that obese people are 55 percent more likely to develop depression compared with people that are a healthy weight.

It's estimated that over a quarter of all morbidly obese people are chronically depressed.

Being obese can also affect the quality of care that you receive from your doctor. Some doctors unconsciously equate obesity with dishonesty and poor hygiene, and their mindset sometimes leads them to provide lower quality care to their patients.

Studies have found that doctors spend less time on each visit with obese patients and occasionally avoid doing preventative exams and screenings.

Facing The Facts: The Science Behind Losing Weight

The evidence is clear that being overweight is terrible for your health, but that doesn't mean you have to give up hope. Focus your attention instead on recent studies that show that small changes can make a big impact on your health.

You don't need to lose massive amounts of weight to start getting healthier. Losing just 10% of your body weight can make huge changes for your overall well being as well as your wallet. It's estimated that each dollar spent on preventative health measures will save you $2.71 in future health costs.

Yet, making change still isn't easy.

The truth of the matter is that thousands of adults attempt to lose weight every year, and many of them meet with failure. In fact, some actually gain weight.

If losing weight was easy, everyone would be able to do it effortlessly. Unfortunately, it's a difficult process that is slightly different for everyone. However, there are some universal weight loss truths that can help you on your journey towards success.

How To Know If You Need To Lose Weight

The first question you need to address in your weight situation is if there is actually a problem. Do you really need to lose weight?

In general, you will know you are overweight if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher and obese if it's 30 or higher. However, be careful relying on this measurement too much as it becomes inaccurate if you have a lot of muscle; according to their BMI most pro-athletes are obese!

Alternatively, the National Institute of Health states that a waist circumference of over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women signifies a risk of being overweight.

If you're still confused about what a healthy weight means for you, talk with your doctor to get an expert opinion about what your weight goals should be.

The Science Behind Weight Gain

The scientific process of gaining weight is actually deceptively simple. In essence, you gain weight when you eat more food than your body can turn into energy in a given day.

Whether from eating a diet too full of fats, sugars, refined carbohydrates and alcohol or through too little exercise, not efficiently burning each calorie you chew will inevitably lead to a larger midsection.

The confusion comes because each body is different and converts calories into energy at a different rate that is influenced by an almost unlimited number of factors.

Lifestyle factors like depression, stress, not getting enough sleep and boredom can both cause your metabolism to slow down and you to overeat and not exercise, consequently causing you to gain weight.

The Key Theories Of Weight Loss

Feta and goat's cheese, a few berries, and mixed greens make for a fresh and healthy salad.

There are plenty of theories as to why we gain weight, from genetic predisposition to blood type. In fact, weight gain is a nuanced topic and many different factors are involved in every situation.

There is no “one size fits all” method for permanent healthy weight loss, so your journey towards weight loss will likely require some patience and experimentation to learn what works best for you.

That being said, there are two main viewpoints that the science of weight loss can be split into.

Calories In/Calories Out: This view turns weight loss into a simple equation: if you eat fewer calories than you burn through exercise, then you will lose weight. Though this seems straightforward, weight loss doesn't quite behave this way. First, weight loss isn't linear.

Cutting calories causes you to lose weight at first, but eventually this loss tapers down because your metabolism slows down, meaning that you have to consistently cut more calories to keep the weight loss going. Second, one calorie isn't equal to every other calorie.

Eating a calorie of high fructose corn syrup isn't going to affect your body the same way a calorie of broccoli will. Therefore, the science of weight loss is more nuanced than simply cutting out calories.

Low Carb Diet: A different way to look at weight loss is to see the problem not as eating too many calories, but as the way the body stores carbohydrates as fat. This view claims that when you eat a carbohydrate, it enters your body as glucose, which your body uses as fuel instead of burning fat.

The hormone insulin is essential for converting glucose into energy. When you eat lots of carbs, extra insulin is released in your body which prevents you from burning fat for fuel. You also get a larger appetite over time because your body requires progressively more fuel, so it craves more carbs.

Because this view of weight loss is very nuanced, different bodies can react in different ways, making a low carb diet more effective for some people than others.

For most people, a combination of these two schools of thought paired with diets filled with natural foods and consistent exercise will be what they need to start losing weight.

The Role Of Physical Fitness

There's a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes along with a marathon.

Daily exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, and it can be an important step for losing weight. According to national physical activity guidelines, Americans should get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. Unfortunately, one in four adults gets NO physical activity at all.

This is a disaster for the American waistline. By getting regular exercise, you are lowering your risk of obesity, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and a wealth of other health problems.

Cardio workouts burn the most calories, so they are ideal for fast weight loss, though high intensity workouts should be balanced out with regular intervals of strength training for the biggest benefit.

To burn the maximum amount of fat, try to keep yourself sweating for an entire hour. Remember to pace yourself; doing too much too soon is not only the perfect way to injure yourself, it also might leave you fatigued and unmotivated to keep going.

If you haven't exercised in years, be sure to check in with your doctor before starting to make sure you are healthy enough to begin.

Need some ideas about where to start? Remember that any exercise is better than nothing. You can start slowly with five minutes of exercise at a time and build yourself up for longer workouts.

Lots of your daily activities can count as exercise, including walking the dogs, doing yard work and even cleaning the house.

If you're moving, it counts as exercise. If you don't feel like you have time to complete a full workout, keep in mind that research has shown it's just as beneficial to fit three 10 minute spurts of exercise into your day in place of a full 30 minute workout.

Practical Steps For Achieving Weight Loss

Starting a diet or weight loss plan is easy; it's sticking with it that's the tricky part. Set yourself up to have the best chance of success by setting goals, thinking through potential roadblocks, cutting out problem foods and changing your mentality about food.

Remember, there are no shortcuts to losing weight in a healthy way. However, by putting in the work you will be setting yourself up for making long lasting changes to your physical health and quality of life.

Before starting any new diet change, it may be helpful to talk to a nutritionist about creating a meal plan that makes sense for your situation.

Change Your Mindset

A new approach and a change of patterns and mindset can make a huge difference in your weight-loss journies.

A new approach and a change of patterns and mindset can make a huge difference in your weight-loss journies. (image: kendra s./flickr)

Think about the role that food has in your life. Do you mindlessly binge out in front of the TV every night? Is it common for you to skip meals, only to gorge out on junk food hours later? By becoming aware of these behaviors, you can take the first steps towards exchanging them for diet-friendly habits.

Plan ahead. The worst kind of eating is eating when you are unaware of what you are doing or don't have other options. Don't put yourself in a situation where you show up for a decadent dinner party starving; eat a light snack before you leave to prevent yourself from feasting on fondue.

If you are an emotional eater that tends to eat out of boredom or stress, keep healthy snacks nearby that you can substitute for salty potato chips or cookies. Little changes to your situation can make a big difference in the calories you consume.

Remember, it's realistic to expect setbacks. Sometimes you're going to give into cravings and cheat. Don't let this discourage you, instead try to see each mess up as an opportunity to strengthen your resolve for the future.

Track Your Progress

A big goal never seems quite so difficult when you can track your progress and see how far you've already come. Keep your stamina for losing weight high by using tools to track the changes you have already made.

There are plenty of smart phone apps and fitness trackers that can help you tally the food that you eat, the calories you burn and the weight you have lost.

If you want to go old school, a simple food diary can be an easy way to track what you eat and drink in a given day.

No matter what system you use, take the time to review your progress consistently. Looking at your results every week will help you notice patterns of success while also picking out trouble areas that you need to work on.

Change the Ways that You Approach Food

The day's vegetable harvest.

To adopt a healthier mindset towards food, you will need to modify the ways that you encounter it. The first step is to keep junk food out of the house and shrink the size of your plates. It's a national habit to eat what's in front of us, so a smaller plate that can fit less food discourages overeating.

Make sure you never go grocery shopping hungry, as you will find it difficult to resist every craving when your blood sugar levels are low.

In the same way, think of each meal as an event, not an opportunity to scarf down calories. Make as much of your own food as you can so that you can have complete control over what goes in the recipe.

If you have a habit of breading and deep frying your dinner, look up other ways of cooking that fill you with fewer trans fats.

Eat slowly, taking the time to taste each bite as you chew. Most people eat more when they eat alone, so keep yourself in the company of others.

Finally, create an eating schedule and stick to it. Most waste calories are consumed as unplanned snacks, so cut out mindless snacking from your diet by having consistent meal times and adhering to them.

Cut Down On Sugar And Refined Carbs

No matter whether your diet goal is to cut out carbohydrates or not, most of us consume far more sugar and refined carbs than is healthy. Remove candy and desserts from your diet, and then look closer at some of the labels of the processed foods in your cupboard.

Breads, soups and cans of tomato sauce are all notorious for having loads of extra sugars added for as preservatives. Be especially careful with any food item marked “low fat” or “non-fat”, because in most cases the natural fats have been replaced by sugar.

You can cut out excess sugars from your diet by using fresh and frozen ingredients rather than canned goods, and choosing whole grain carbs over refined options.

Be Smart About Saturated Fat

Saturated fats have a bad rap these days, but in reality the boom of low-fat items in the grocery store has perfectly lined up with the explosion in obesity rates.

On the store shelves, dairy and animal fats have been traded out for refined sugars and carbohydrates to make up for the lack of taste that occurs when the fat gets taken out. One thing is sure, cutting out fat from your diet is not the best solution to achieve weight loss.

Try to keep a more balanced view towards fats by integrating them into your diet in healthy amounts. Natural animal fats like butter are always better for you than heavily processed items like margarine, and studies have linked whole-milk to less body fat and lower obesity than alternative drinks.

Keep your fats non-artificial, and you will benefit from having them in your diet.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Blackberries are nice in salad, too.

Cutting excess calories doesn't mean to have to eat less food, it simply means you need to eat more fruits and vegetables.

High fiber foods like produce keep you full longer because they take your body a long time to digest. This prevents you from the excess snacking that leads to weight gain.

The best way to create change is to make it easy on yourself. Make fruits and vegetables convenient for snacking by storing them in easy access portions in your kitchen. Pack combinations like peanut butter and celery for your daily lunch to get a kick of protein with your fiber.

Start each dinner with a side salad to fill you up, and when eating out, see if your server will substitute your meal's carbs with an extra serving of vegetables instead.

You'll be amazed how easy it is to double or triple your day plant-based foods intake when you become intentional about it.

Stay Motivated

Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times when you are feeling weak and want to give up, so it's important to keep yourself motivated by constantly reminding yourself of the goals you are working towards.

Some people find it helpful to keep an unflattering photograph in their wallet to remind them how unhappy they are being overweight, and others get encouragement from inspiration notes from friends and family.

Do whatever works for you, but make sure to quiet your inner critic rather than dwelling on your doubts about your ability to make change. Remind yourself of the times when you resisted temptation and try to remove yourself from situations where your resolve is tempted beyond endurance.

Literally walking away from diet-breaking foods and going outside or talking with a friend can quickly break you out of a cheating mindset and get you back on track.

To keep up your stamina for the long run, however, it's smart to let yourself indulge once in a while. Not letting yourself have that bite of cake will leave you feeling deprived and bitter, and much more likely to self-sabotage at a later date.

Take Nutritional Supplements

Supplement capsules spilling out of the bottle.

If you struggle to get as many vitamins and nutrients as you need on a daily basis, it may be a good idea to take some nutritional supplements. A visit to the health store will overwhelm you with options, from iron and fiber pills to fish oil capsules.

Not all health supplements will make much difference in your weight, but they can enhance your diet and help you to stay healthy when certain diets require you cut out specific food groups.

Taking a multivitamin or a meal replacement supplement can be a good idea for days when you aren't able to eat a balanced diet.

The people that most benefit from taking health supplements are pregnant women, nursing mothers, strict vegetarians, people with food allergies and senior citizens.

Use Fitness Calculators

It can be helpful to gain a baseline for what weight loss goals you should try to achieve by using fitness calculators like these to track your current stats in order to see the progress you are making.

Popular Diet Plans For Weight Loss

If you're ready to start taking your weight loss goals seriously, there are plenty of popular diet plans that you can join. Each of these plans has thousands of success stories attributed to it and will provide you with a community that wants to help you succeed.

Each plan is different and focuses on different aspects of nutrition, so be sure to look them over and choose the one that makes sense for you.

Ketogenics Diet

A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that revs up your body to burn fat instead of carbs. The term “keto” comes from the name of “ketones”, small fuel molecules that your body produces in the liver to power itself.

This is the fuel your body uses when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply, and it is exactly what you want to burn to get maximum weight loss results.

When you eat a ketogenic diet, your body's fuel supply switches over to run on body fat. Your insulin levels will plummet while your fat burning rate will dramatically increase. Essentially, your body becomes primed up to be an efficient, fat-burning machine.

People whose weight loss plateaus while on a regular low carb diet are often helped by eating for optimal ketosis.

Though low-carb dieters often think they are benefiting their ketone levels, a look at the numbers usually reveals that they are eating too much protein, which the body can turn into sugar if it isn't used up properly.

A low carb, protein heavy diet wrecks their body's fat-burning efficiency and causes it to rely on carbs and glucose instead.

Instead, the best way to turn your body towards fat burning is to eat for “optimal ketosis”. The goal (counter intuitively perhaps) is to fill yourself up with lots of fat. For example, it's better to put an extra serving of butter on your steak than to eat a second helping of meat.

Others find that making “fat coffee” by mixing a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of coconut oil into their morning coffee wakes up their fat burning systems and gets them ready for their day.

To start a ketogenics diet, you will need to be aware of your ketones number to see how far you need to go to improve. You can buy a ketone meter online to get started.

Low Carb/Atkins Diet

Grillin'

The low-carb Atkins diet was founded in 1972 by Dr. Atkins and millions of Americans have used it to successfully lose weight.

The premise of the Atkins diet is that you can diet without feeling deprived. In essence, dieters limit their starchy, sugary carbs and eat a diet rich in fats and protein instead. Because cutting out sugary carbs reduces calories, Atkins diet followers will begin to lose weight.

The diet consists of four main phases that every dieter follows.

  • Phase 1: Switch your body over from burning carbs to fat through ketosis. Your diet consists only of fat, protein, and 20 grams of veggie carbs every day.
  • Phase 2: Foods are added back into your diet until you learn the carb to weight loss ratio that works for you.
  • Phase 3: This level is started when you have less than ten pounds to lose. It focuses on maintaining your weight loss for the long term.
  • Phase 4: The long term maintenance phase that practitioners follow to keep weight off for the rest of their lives.

If you choose to follow the Atkins, you will need to make most of your meals from scratch. When buying prepared foods, read labels carefully to see what the carbs and sugar content is.

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet (SBD) was founded in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatson and it quickly became a bestselling book. Named after a glamorous Miami location, the diet is occasionally called a modified low-carb diet.

Though the diet is low in carbs and higher in proteins and healthy fats, it's not a strict low-carb diet because you won't be required to count carbs.

The main goal of the SBD is to change the ratio of foods you eat everyday to cause weight loss. The diet claims to be a healthy way of eating, regardless of whether you are trying to lose weight.

By balancing good carbs with lean proteins and healthy fats, the SBD creates a nutrient-dense, fiber rich diet.

It relies on the glycemic index to eliminate “bad” carbs from your diet to stop your blood sugar from spiking and you from overeating. The diet also emphasizes the importance of healthy monounsaturated fats as well as fiber and whole grains in a diet filled with fruits and vegetables.

The diet works in three phases:

Phase 1: The first two-week phase strives to get rid of your junk food cravings by cutting out all carbohydrates from your diet. Breads, pasta and potatoes as well as fruit juice and alcohol are all banned, and your diet is instead filled with lean proteins, vegetables, and low fat diary.

Most people lose 8 to 13 pounds during phase 1.

Phase 2: As the start of long term weight loss, this phase allows you to add back some carbs into your diet like brown rice, fruits, and whole grain breads. Weight loss is typically around 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Phase 3: At the end of the weight loss phase comes the maintenance phase, or long term living. All foods are allowed in moderation, yet you continue to follow the foundational low carb principles of South Beach.

Weight Watchers

No food is off limits in the highly popular Weight Watchers plan, but every food is given a specific score of SmartPoints based on its saturated fat, protein and sugar levels that dictates how much of it you can eat.

Depending on your weight, weight loss goals and fitness level, you are given a certain number of SmartPoints every day. Low calorie, high nutrition foods have few if any points, while high calorie options have more points.

If you choose to eat high-point foods, you will have less food to eat throughout the day, but if you choose lower-value foods like fruits and vegetables, you can eat an almost unlimited amount.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Weight Watchers is the community that it has created. Participants are encouraged to meet for weekly weigh in sessions in order to encourage each others' progress.

Many people find the straightforward point structure and community aspect fits their lifestyle well, but if you don't like to cook your own food, count daily food points, or go to group meetings, Weight Watchers might not be the right diet for you.

Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet

The beginnings of the Paleo Diet can be traced back to a 1975 book by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, who wrote that the diet adopted by pre-agriculture humans was perfectly suited to the body's digestive system and kept early people groups lean, strong and energetic.

Add some chicken to a salad and two snacks become one awesome meal.

The premise of the Paleo diet is that the modern diet, full of refined carbs, trans fats, artificial ingredients and massive amount of sugar is inherently damaging to the body and a leading cause behind the obesity epidemic.

Therefore, the Paleo diet strips down food consumption to what would be eaten by early hunter gatherers by focusing on meat, fruits and vegetables and natural sweeteners, while avoiding all carbs, refined sugars and most legumes.

Paleo diet followers make sure that 20-30% of their calories everyday come from high quality protein sources like meat and seafood, and they fill the rest of their diet with non-starchy fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber.

Other whole foods can make up the rest of the diet, but in relatively limited quantities.

Jenny Craig

The Jenny Craig diet plan makes dieting convenient by providing you with prepackaged, low-calorie foods and a consultant to offer you support and advice as you start your weight loss journey.

The approach is simple. Jenny Craig focuses on low fat foods that are full of water, fiber and protein to keep you full with fewer calories. The diet doesn't limit the number of non-starchy vegetables that you eat each day, giving you a way to keep filling up.

There aren't any banned foods in Jenny Craig, just weekly menus made from over 70 different prepackaged foods that are all measured out to be the exact calorie requirements you are looking for. Splurges are okay, even for alcoholic beverages.

Studies have shown that Jenny Craig dieters lose about ten percent of their body weight during their first year on the plan.

Once you get close to your weight loss goal you can transition off Jenny Craig food and onto your own cooking, so long as you continue to fill the calorie requirements.

Many people swear by this plan as an effective way to lose weight, but because you'll be buying lots of pre-made food, be prepared to spend over $150 a week.

Intermittent Fasting

Put simply, intermittent fasting means to not eat during specific, pre-set times. Forcing your body to go without food for hours at a time changes the functioning of your metabolism and allows your body to better burn through its fat stores, especially in the belly.

Because intermittent eating lowers your insulin resistance, you become less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes and you reduce overall inflammation throughout your body.

Intermittent fasts can last for any amount of time, but a popular length is 16 hours, or from 8pm to 12 noon. Food is forbidden during this time, though no calorie beverages like water, tea and coffee are highly recommended.

For longer fasts, many participants drink bouillon. The 16:8 fast can be repeated as many times per week as you feel comfortable doing it.

Other variations for intermittent fasting are a 24 hour fast, and the 5:2 diet, which allows you to eat whatever you want for five days and restricts your calories heavily (500 per day for women, 600 for men) for days six and seven.

The appeal of intermittent fasting is that it doesn't require you to switch out foods, join a program or even count calories. Instead, by simply restricting when you eat, you will be pushing your body towards a new level of awareness and getting it to run as efficiently as possible.

What's The Deal With Fad Diets And Crash Diets?

Smoothie with whole berries.

Maybe you want to lose a lot of weight, quick. You'll soon be standing in a friend's wedding, or going to a high school reunion filled with hundred of people you need to impress.

Are there any shortcuts to weight loss? In this situation you might find yourself turning towards popular “fad diets” that promise insanely quick results for little effort.

But are they worth trying? They seem to work for celebrities, but can you actually lose weight this way?

As a rule of thumb, if a diet plan sounds too good to be true, it is. Any plan that causes you to lose double digits within a week is simple causing you to lose water weight, and the second you get off the plan your body will quickly put it all back on- and often more.

Don't assume you can stick to a fad diet forever, because most of them are setting you up for failure by depriving you of what you crave, making it easy for you to justify cheating when your body becomes too hungry to ignore.

Skip any diet plan that causes you to use detoxification pills, laxatives, miniscule portions or weight loss shakes. If they promise to cause you to lose more than 2-3 pounds a week, the results aren't sustainable and will actually be counterproductive to your long term weight loss goals.

Any diet that causes you to cut calories below 1,200 will cause you to lose the muscle mass needed to exercise and burn calories effectively.

So, do yourself a favor and don't reach for a shortcut. In the end, your body will thank you that you took the time to lose weight the natural way.

Surgery: Is It A Viable Weight Loss Option?

Maybe you've been around the block a few times when it comes to weight loss, trying diet after diet only to have the pounds pile back on and have them bring a few friends along.

If nothing you do seems to make any difference and your quality of life is being compromised, you might find your mind turning towards thoughts of weight loss surgery. But how can you know if it's right for you?

Weight loss surgery is used to help people with extreme obesity lose weight. If diet and exercise have proved ineffective and the risk of doing nothing is worse than the inherent risks of surgery, then doctors might recommend that you undergo one of four main weight loss procedures.

Each procedure is a little different, but they are all designed to limit the amount of food you can take in or to limit the amount of nutrients your body can absorb.

The most common bariatric surgery procedures are gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band, sleeve gastrectomy and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. These surgeries typically costs between $11,500 to $26,000.

All types of surgery have risks and complications, such as infections, hernias, and blood clots. Though most weight loss surgery patients find that they lose lots of weight right away, some eventually gain a good portion of it back.

When patients follow their diet and exercise regimes post surgery, they can keep most of the weight off for good, though each patient will need specialized medical attention for the rest of your life.

How can you know if you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery? Use the checklist below to find out.

  • You are an obese adult suffering from weight related conditions like Type 2 Diabetes.
  • You've tried traditional diets for years without any success.
  • ​You are willing to adjust your diet and lifestyle permanently after the surgery.
  • ​You've thoroughly talked with your doctor and know the risks and benefits of the procedure.
  • You're ready to make a permanent change.

Start Your Own Health Plan By Making Smart Food Choices

Diet plants are useful for losing weight, but they aren't always necessary. You can experience incredible results simply by substituting diet-friendly foods for some of your current guilty pleasures.

Eating just one serving of french fries a day can cause you to put on a pound a year, while choosing a serving of yogurt instead can help you lose a pound over four years. Multiply these simple substitutions in your diet and the pounds will start to melt off.

Use the lists below to see which list your favorite foods and drinks land on, and change your behavior accordingly.

What To Eat For A Healthy Diet

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Health proponents swear by it, and for good reason. Apple cider vinegar is a great addition to dressings and vinaigrette, and it also works to reduce spikes in blood pressure when you eat sugar.
  • Avocados: Most fruit is high in carbs, but avocados are loaded with healthy fats. As a perfect addition to salads and low-fat burgers, avocados will up your intake of monounsaturated fats and trigger your body to stop your feelings of hunger.
  • Bananas: As a slimming super-food, a medium-sized banana will fill you up while boosting your metabolism, causing your body to burn fat more efficiently.
  • Beans: Beans and legumes can be a great resource for weight loss because they tend to be high in fiber and protein which works to keep you full. Black beans, kidney beans and lentils are especially diet-healthy varieties to choose.
  • Blueberries: Full of anti-aging benefits, blueberries are power-packed antioxidant providers that will fill you up with less than 80 calories per serving.
  • Brown Rice: As a heartier substitute for white rice, brown rice is rich in fiber and resistant starch that will rev up your metabolism to its full fat burning potential. As a bonus, brown rice is a low-energy-density food, meaning that it's heavy and filling but has relatively few calories per serving.
  • Cabbage: Full of vitamin C and antioxidants, cabbage works to boost your immune system when you eat it lightly sauteed or in a vegetable stir fry.
  • Chia Seeds: As one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber per one ounce serving. Stick a tablespoon into your water bottle and watch as the seeds expand and turn gel like, filling you up without extra calories.
  • Chili Pepper: Peppers contain a unique substance called capsaicin that reduces appetite while increasing the fat burning abilities of your body. Studies have shown that just one gram of red chili pepper is enough to lower your appetite and stop you from reaching for higher calorie foods.
  • Cinnamon: A dash of cinnamon in your morning coffee can regulate your blood sugar levels, control your sugar cravings, and boost your metabolism. It's that simple!
  • Coconut Oil: High in healthy fatty acids, coconut oil has been found to keep you fuller longer than other fats, while also helping you burn more calories. Replace other oils in your diet with coconut oil and your fat may start to blast away.
  • Cottage Cheese: For the dairy lover, it doesn't get much better than cottage cheese. Calorie for calorie, it's the best dairy source in a protein to carbohydrates and fat ratio.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel-sprouts all fall under this category and are each high in fiber that keeps you full. Mixing these vegetables with a carb and protein source will create a perfect combination for losing weight for good.
  • Dark Chocolate: It may seem like a miracle, but the occasional bite of dark chocolate really is good for you. Dark chocolate is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, which rev up your metabolism and keep you feeling fuller longer, while also curbing the worst of your sweet tooth.
  • Eggs: High in protein, healthy fats and necessary nutrients, eggs still manage to be low in calories. Don't let the cholesterol levels scare you off - egg-eaters don't have higher bad cholesterol levels than non-egg eaters.
  • Goat Cheese: Fresh feta and creamy goat cheeses are loaded with fatty acids that keep you full and cause you to burn fat. Look for sustainably raised “grass fed” varieties to ensure you are getting top quality benefits.
  • Grapefruit: The effects of grapefruit for weight loss have been well documented. This tangy fruit contains a compound that lowers insulin (a fat-storage hormone), which means that eating just half a grapefruit before meals can cause you to lose almost four pounds in three months.
  • Hummus: Full of complex proteins, this simple food will make your dipping vegetables keep you full far longer than when they are eaten plain. Keep hummus on hand and you'll have the perfect snack for fighting early afternoon hunger off.
  • Leafy Greens: Low in calories and carbohydrates, spinach, kale and chard are all full of vitamins and minerals while also providing you with the antioxidants you need for total body health.
  • Lean Meats: Though every healthy eater needs to stay away from processed meats, chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef are particularly good for you. Full of protein and low in calories, eating chicken in a high protein diet will help you burn more calories every day.
  • Nuts: Though nuts have a bad reputation for being high in fat and calories, they are a healthy snack when eaten in moderation. Studies have shown that people who eat nuts tend to be thinner those who don't. Keep yourself to a small handful a day and your body will enjoy the benefits of heart-healthy fatty acids that stop your hunger hormones from acting out of control, helping you to lose weight faster.
  • Oats: Full of beta-glucans (soluble fibers that help improve your metabolism), oatmeal is a healthy breakfast option that will keep you full hours longer than sugary cereals and granola
  • Oranges: They may only have 59 calories each, but oranges are full of fiber that will keep you feeling satisfied far longer than other fruit options.
  • Oranges: They may only have 59 calories each, but oranges are full of fiber that will keep you feeling satisfied far longer than other fruit options.
  • Pears: This underrated hand fruit provides 15% of your daily fiber in just one serving, just make sure you're eating the peel for maximum benefits.
  • Plantains: This cousin of the banana can fill you with almost 3 grams of resistant starch in one serving, which boosts your metabolism and helps you to fight fat.
  • Popcorn: When it's air-popped, popcorn is full of antioxidants and low in calories, making it a perfect potato chip substitute. If you're concerned about calories, skip the butter and experiment with more creative toppings like pepper flakes or cinnamon.
  • Potatoes (Boiled): Potatoes have gotten a bad rap recently, but in reality they offer an incredible bounty of nutrients to the healthy eater. Boiling potatoes (with their skins) produces large amounts of resistant starches that keep you full without absorbing lots of calories. Though potatoes are high in carbs, they are far more filling than simple white bread and will keep your sugar levels from spiking.
  • Quinoa: As a protein-packed whole grain, quinoa will keep you full on fewer calories, and when added to a stir fry, it works to stretch your expensive vegetables a little farther.
  • Radishes: Adding this slightly spicy vegetable into your diet will provide you with potassium, folic acid, antioxidants and compounds that help with digestion. Make sure you keep the radish tops, which are full of vitamin C and excellent stir-fried.
  • Salmon: As an especially oily fish, salmon is both healthy and satisfying, even without a lot of calories. Eating seafood helps keep your iodine levels healthy, which contributes to a healthy thyroid.
  • Salsa: Simple, homemade salsas made from fresh ingredients are the perfect salad topper to fill you with antioxidants while preventing you from reaching for other, higher calorie dressing options.
  • Soup: Soup is the perfect way to make simple foods stretch farther. Two meals might have the same amount of calories, but when you turn one of them into a soup you will feel full longer and consequently snack on fewer extra calories throughout the day.
  • Spaghetti Squash: Preventing the dreaded pasta belly bloat is as easy as substituting in a spaghetti squash. With only 42 calories per serving, spaghetti squash is the perfect way to lighten up your favorite comfort foods.
  • Sweet Potatoes: High in fiber and antioxidants, sweet potatoes keep you full while satisfying your sweet tooth. They also help regulate your blood pressure from spiking. Just be sure to eat the skin- that's where all the nutrients are!
  • Tuna: As a low calorie, high protein form of fish, tuna is an excellent dietary choice. Be sure to choose varieties that have been canned in water, not oil!
  • Yogurt: Full-fat and Greek varieties, that is. Avoid fat-free yogurt at all costs because the fat content has been replaced with belly bloating sugars. However, regular yogurt is full of probiotics that will keep your gut functioning well while filling you with protein. The tangy taste of Greek yogurt makes it a great sour cream replacement.

What Not To Eat

Spaghetti, tomato sauce and basil, yum!
  • Bacon: Though bacon has only 45 calories per strip, it's shockingly high in fat, sodium and sodium nitrate. If you find the bacon habit hard to kick, stick to half a strip that you can crumble on top of your sandwich.
  • Bagels: The size of a single bagel is deceiving, as it contains as many carbohydrates as six slices of white bread. Eating foods that are high in carbohydrates causes sugar levels to spike up, and the calories that aren't quickly burned off are stored as body fat. Your body is better off with complex carbs like oatmeal.
  • Breakfast Cereal: It may not seem so bad compared to pancakes and Pop tarts, but cereal is full of sugar and refined carbohydrates that spike up your energy level before giving you a sugar crash, leaving you feeling hungry and listless, and more likely to snack on something else sugary.
  • Coleslaw: Cabbage itself is healthy, when when it gets mixed into coleslaw, this simple vegetable becomes a calorie bomb. Because of the mayonnaise, a single serving can cost over 250 calories and lots of fat.
  • Creamy Ice Cream: Cream comes right from fat, and ice cream contains fattening cream, egg yolks and sugar as well, which hikes up the calorie count to sky-high levels.
  • Deli Meats: All processed meats are high in saturated fats and calories, making them an easy culprit for weight gain. Studies have found links between red meat consumption and weight gain, so do your belly a favor and cut out the deli section from your diet.
  • Dried Fruit: It may seem healthy, but dried fruit is actually little better for you than candy because of the high sugar content. To make matters worse, it's easy to overeat dried fruit because it takes so much to fill you up. Eating lots of dried fruit will encourage your sugar cravings and might cause you to go over your calorie counts.
  • Energy Bars: Brilliant marketing has stopped energy bars from being seen as the candy bars in disguise that they really are. Loaded with sugar, lots of bars top three hundred calories and don't leave you full like a regular meal would.
  • Fast Food: Most fast food gets its flavor from being fried in vats of oil, which fills it with trans and saturated fats that can clog up your arteries and put pounds around your middle. The humungous serving sizes and focus on desserts and refined grains aren't doing you any favors either.
  • Flavored Yogurt: All natural yogurts are a healthy diet option, but flavored yogurts are full of sugar, sometimes as much as 30 grams in a 6 oz serving, making it sweeter than ice cream. Stick with plain (not vanilla) and mix in your own fruit for a pop of sweetness.
  • Fried Potatoes: Potatoes are a carbohydrate-heavy food to begin with, and eating them fried in calorie-laden oils will only work to pack on the pounds for you. Avoid potato chips and french fries, and choose instead to eat your potatoes roasted or boiled- with the skin included.
  • Frosting: Your grandma didn't put icing on all her baked goods, and there is no reason why you should either. Eating frosting is an easy way to add unnecessary calories to your diet, and many cans of frosting on the store shelves are also full of dangerous trans fats.
  • Fruity Fat-Free Dressings: Don't let the fat-free label fool you, these dressings are not a healthy option. Full of unnecessary sugars, you're actually better off with the natural fats.
  • Granola: Though is has been sneakily marketed as a health food, granola is actually filled with sugars and fats, making it sweeter than many kiddy cereals. If you must eat granola, use a measuring cup to stick true to the serving size so that you don't overeat.
  • Jarred Tomato Sauce: The amount of sugar in canned goods would shock most people, and tomato sauce is one of the worst offenders. If you must have sauce, make your own so you can control how much sugar goes inside.
  • Margarine: Though margarine is sometimes considered a healthy butter alternative, in actuality it's loaded with dangerous trans fats and little else. For a better butter substitute, stick with olive oil.
  • Microwave Popcorn: Though popcorn has all the makings of a health food, the microwave varieties are not only disgustingly greasy, but are also filled with oils, trans fats and artificial colors and flavors. Stick to air-popped varieties that you season yourself and you'll be eating a far healthier snack.
  • Mayonnaise and Hollandaise Sauce: These sauces may be delicious, but they are also have a huge percentage of fat. Mayonnaise alone contains over 80g of fat per serving! Adding them to your plate will cause your calorie count to soar, making it easy for you to pack on the pounds.
  • Nut Butters: You might think nut butters are superbly nutritious, but in reality they pack tons of sugar into each serving. Though nuts can be a healthy snack, they needed to be eaten in moderation and most nut butters will encourage you to overindulge.
  • Pancake Syrup: All natural maple syrup can have some health benefits, but most pancake syrup on the market today is just high fructose corn syrup with a little caramel coloring. Indulging your cravings for artificial sweeteners will simply make you crave sugar more, causing you to overeat on worthless calories.
  • Pasta: Regular pasta has the fiber processed out of it, meaning that the nutrients from the wheat are wasted before your body gets to benefit from them. Because the refined grains in pasta pass through your body quickly, you'll find yourself hungry again in no time.
  • Refined Grains: Because they break down quickly in the body, refined grains turn into sugars that spike up your blood pressure before causing you to crash. White bread, crackers, white rice and other refined grains are all culprits, and they contain lower levels of vitamins and fiber than whole grains.
  • Refined Sugars (Chocolate/Cakes/Candy): This shouldn't surprise anyone, but dessert items are filled with refined sugars that spike up your blood pressure and quickly leave you hungry again, all without providing any nutritional benefits. Be sure to especially avoid pre-made baked goods from grocery stores, because they will be filled not only with sugar and calories, but also nasty preservatives to make them last longer on the shelf.
  • Soy Sauce: Though it's low in calories and contains valuable minerals, the high sodium content in soy sauce puts you at risk for hypertension and extreme bloating. You're better off sticking with a low-sodium variety, or better yet, none at all

What To Drink

Coffee is not an unhealthy way to start the day, especially if you aren't loading it up with sugar and heavy cream.
  • Black Coffee: When drunk in moderation (3 to 4 cups per day) black coffee is good for you. Not only is it full of antioxidants, this caffeine-rich drink can help your body fight off cancer and reduce your risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. Some studies have even shown that coffee can rev up the metabolism and encourage weight loss. For maximum benefits, keep it black and stay far away from artificial creams and sweeteners.
  • Coconut Water: Coming straight from the inside of a coconut, coconut water is full of electrolytes that can rev up your metabolism without the unnecessary artificial ingredients found in most commercial sports drinks.
  • Flavored Water: Avoid overly flavored store bought options by infusing your own water with fresh fruit or cucumbers. You'll get a refreshing taste for zero calories and no artificial ingredients.
  • Green tea: All tea is a great (nearly) no-calorie beverage choice, but green tea is especially beneficial because it hydrates you like water while providing you with antioxidants to help you burn fat and extra calories. Five cups of tea a day can help you lose twice as much weight as a diet plan without tea.
  • Light Beer: No beer is truly going to help you lose weight, but if you must imbibe, a light beer will serve you up fewer calories per serving.
  • Pure Spirits: True, though whiskey, cognac, vodka and gin all have unnecessary calories, you will be saving yourself hundreds of calories by not drinking them in juice or sodas. Be warned, large amounts of any alcohol may slow weight loss, so always drink in moderation.
  • Red Wine: Red wine contains Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape leaves that prevents the body from storing fat and boost your calorie burn rate for 90 minutes after downing a glass. Moderate wine drinkers have been found to have less belly fat than beer and liquor drinkers.
  • Skim Milk: Milk is a perfect source of lean protein, vitamin D and calcium, and opting for low calorie versions like skim will allow you to enjoy all the benefits without eating too many extra calories. For an extra indulgence, you can add a little chocolate powder to make a tasty post-workout drink.
  • Vegetable Juice: Because it contains less sugar and calories than regular fruit juice, vegetable juices like tomato or carrot are a smart beverage choice. You can buy natural juices with the pulp included, or make your own to control exactly how much sugar you put in it.
  • Water: Is there anything that water can't do? Not only will it help fill you up before you start on a big meal, it will also keep you fuller longer when you eat foods with a high natural water content like fruits and vegetables and soup. Drink a full glass of water before each meal to ensure that you stay properly hydrated before you start eating, and you will find yourself leaving the meal having eaten fewer calories.
  • Watermelon Smoothie: So long as you don't add sugary sherbet mixtures, watermelon can make an exceptional low calorie smoothie base. Just mix watermelon with a little lime juice and blend it up with ice for a refreshing, thirst-quenching summer drink.
  • Whey Protein: As a muscle repairer, whey protein can help you to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass while you work out. Whey protein is a different of body builders that want lean muscles without fat.

What Not To Drink

Soda? Sometimes, if you must, but not everyday please!
  • Beer: It's no surprise that beer has earned the nickname “liquid bread” once you see how many carbs one brew truly contains. Keep up a daily drinking habit and you're bound to start contributing to your beer belly.
  • Cocktails: A shot of hard liquor has plenty of calories on its own, but once you mix in sodas and creams your little drink can quickly top out at over 600 calories. Keep is simple by sticking with rum or vodka in club soda.
  • Coffee Creamer: Though black coffee has plenty of health benefits, too much coffee creamer can send your diet into a tailspin. A daily cream habit can set you back hundreds of calories, which will turn into unwanted pounds in no time.
  • Diet soda: Just because “diet” is in the name doesn't mean that these drinks belong in your body. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda make them a major diet trap because they mess with the body's ability to judge sweetness as it relates to fullness- making you crave sugar even more.
  • Energy Drinks: Though they are marketed as a healthy food, most energy drinks are full of calories and artificial ingredients, making them little better for you than soda. You're better off drinking water when you exercise unless you're really going at it for hours at a time.
  • Flavored Water: Store bought flavored waters tend to contain more sugar than “natural flavoring”, so leave those bottles on the shelve and make your own flavored water with a dash of lemon juice.
  • Fruit Juice: Juice can easily have as many calories as soda, though it contains more nutrients, which can make it a perplexing decision for whether it's worth drinking or not. If you decide to indulge in juice, stay away from any variety that has added sweeteners and check the nutrition label to make sure you are drinking 100% juice. To slash some calories, dilute your juice with water.
  • Green Juice: Just because it has green in the name doesn't mean it's healthy! Many manufacturers compensate for the bitterness in green juice by blending in plenty of additional sugar. If you chose to indulge, choose green juices with more vegetables than fruits and cut the bitterness out with lemon and ginger instead of sugar.
  • Lemonade: Store bought versions will be heavy on sweeteners and light on lemon juice, so your best bet is to make a pass unless you've made your own.
  • Sweet Tea: Though regular tea is a diet slam dunk, sweetened varieties can give you as much sugar and calories as a soda. You can't fit enough antioxidants in your brew to compensate for this damage, so leave the sugar alone.
  • Smoothies: Though they certainly have the potential to be super healthy, most pre-made smoothies are loaded in calories and sugars that make them a diet disaster. Avoid any options that list peanut butter, ice cream and juice in the ingredients, and stick to smoothies made from plain yogurt and fresh fruit instead.
  • Soda: No one should be surprised that from a health standpoint, carbonated sodas have no redeemable qualities whatsoever. High sugar content and no nutritional value make these drinks a huge diet wrecker that need to be avoided at all costs.
  • Wine Coolers: They may seem like a light pick me up, but a 12-ounce cooler can have between 190 and 315 calories. If you're craving a refreshing drink, your best bet is to make a wine spritzer with a dash of wine and sparkling water.

Health Issues And Weight Loss

Not all weight loss is necessarily a good thing. If you find yourself losing lots of weight without making any dramatic lifestyle changes, or you find yourself feeling weak and exhausted for no apparent reason, your weight loss might be a symptom of a larger medical problem.

Unhealthy weight loss can result from a loss of body fats, fluids, or muscle atrophy due to malnutrition, hormonal changes, different medications or even internal parasites.

Losing lots of weight for unexpected medical reasons can lower your quality of life and even put you at greater risk of dying young.

Malnutrition can affect every part of your body and is especially damaging to your brain's ability to function in daily tasks.

If you lose about 10% of your body weight in six months or 5% in one month without trying, you may have a problem. Make an appointment to visit your doctor immediately.

Addressing Common Myths About Weight Loss

If you have ever searched online for information about losing weight, you've probably come away with more questions than answers. The immense amount of diet and weight loss material on the web today means that there is a lot of misinformation about what it takes to lose weight in a healthy way.

Below, we've addressed some of the common myths about weight loss to clear up your confusion.

Myth: Fad Diets Will Help You Lose Weight For The Long Term

Though fad diets will cause you to lose weight quickly, you won't be able to keep the weight off unless you commit to their highly restrictive diet plans and cut out lots of foods from your diet. Most people get fatigued on fad diets and find that they can't keep up the progress.

Most fad diets call for unhealthy diets that that don't provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. If you lose more than 3 pounds per week on a diet, you can assume most of the weight is from water and will be added back on when you get off the diet.

Myth: Grain Products Are Fattening And Need To Be Avoided In Order To Lose Weight

Not all grains will make you fat. The key is to avoid refined grains and fill up on a diet of whole grains instead.

Refined grains are made through the process of being milled, which removes the bran and germ from the grain. This gives the grain a finer texture and allows it last longer on store shelves, but dietary fiber, iron and vitamins are removed.

Myth: Some People Can Eat Whatever They Want And Still Lose Weight

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and drink. It may seem like some people and eat and drink all they want without putting on an ounce, but their bodies are still putting the energy they are eating into productive uses.

If they stopped moving as much or being quite as efficient with their calorie burning, you would see them starting to gain weight back.

There are a number of factors that affect how quickly you can convert calories into energy, including your weight, age, genetics and lifestyle. Everyone's body operates differently, but we all need to burn the calories we eat somehow.

Myth:"Low-Fat" Or "Fat-Free" Foods Don't Have Calories

Low fat or fat free foods might be lower in calories than their full fat counterparts, but they still have calories, and lots of added flours, sugars and/or starches as well.

Myth: Fast Foods Is Always A Bad Diet Choice

Nothing wrong with eating a burger every now and then...

Some fast food options can be healthier than others. When you need to indulge, chose an item off the kids menu to make sure you get a smaller portion. An even better option? Order a salad and hold the dressing.

Myth: Skipping Meals Is A Good Way To Lose Weight

Unless you are doing it for an intentional fast, skipping meals is a bad idea. Not only will you feel hungry and crabby for much of the day, you will also be more likely to overeat for your next meal. People who skip breakfast everyday are on average heavier than those that eat a healthy breakfast.

Myth: Eating Healthy Food Is Too Expensive To Be Worth It

Eating healthy food doesn't mean you have to break your budget. Though fresh produce may look healthier than canned and frozen varieties, in actuality they can provide just as many nutrients as fresh food for a far lower cost.

Look for foods that are preserved without salt and additives for the maximum benefit.

You can buy foods like grains and beans in bulk to save money on packaging. If buying in bulk gives you more food than you can handle, find a friend to split your food with and go in together whenever you find a good deal on healthy bulk food items.

Myth: Eating Meat Is Bad For You

Meat is not the diet disaster that many people would have you think it is. If you eat lean meat in small amounts, you will be well on your way to losing weight. Chicken, fish, pork and red meat are all healthy options with some cholesterol and saturated fat that also contain iron, protein and zinc.

Myth: Dairy Products Are Fattening And Unhealthy

Though dairy products can be high in fat and calories, they tend to be the good kind of fats that keep you healthy. Fat free and low fat cheese, milk and yogurt gives you all the benefits of dairy with fewer calories- just be sure to chose options without excessive amounts of added sugars.

Myth: "Going Vegetarian" Will Help You Lose Weight And Be Healthier

Load up on the greens!

A vegetarian diet isn't necessarily a healthy one. Though research has shown that vegetarians tend to be less overweight than meat eaters, it all comes down to the type of vegetarian diet you are following.

If you substitute meat for chips and sodas, you'll find yourself protein starved and putting on weight. However, if you supplement your vegetarian diet with leafy greens, beans and rice and meat alternatives like tofu, you will be eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Myth: Fasting Is Always Good For You

Short term fasting sessions can have plenty of total body benefits, but anything in excess has the potential to be damaging for you, and fasting is no different. Females especially are prone to struggle if they put themselves through too many fasts by suffering anxiety, loss of fertility, and other hormone-regulated issues.

If you choose to fast, stick to sessions that last less than 24 hours and restrict your full days fasts to no more than twice a month.

Myth: Nighttime Eating Makes You Fat

There's no real evidence that eating at different times of the day makes you more prone to gain weight, so snack away. However, late night eaters tend to eat more calories per meal than people who eat earlier in the evening, so be sure to restrict yourself to pre-measured portions.

Myth: There Are “Good” Added Sugars And “Bad” Added Sugars

Some added sugars may be more natural than others (agave and honey as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup), but your body tends to process sugar all the same way- by storing what it can't burn as fat.

It's better to avoid added sugars altogether and satisfy your sweet tooth by snacking on naturally-sweetened fruits and vegetables.

Myth: Coffee Is Bad For You

Caffeine lovers can rejoice; coffee isn't going to wreck your diet. In fact, when coffee is consumed in moderation it is a safe part of a healthy diet and contributes antioxidants to your body, which can help prevent you from developing Type 2 Diabetes, gallstones and some forms of cancer.

Just be sure to lay off the cream and sugar to keep this zero-calorie beverage as healthy as possible. Instead, people are mixing healthy fats into their coffee to make it "Bulletproof". This also acts to slow the caffeine, so you get a longer-lasting boost, without a crash afterwards.

Myth: The Less Fat You Eat, The Better

Turns out butter isn't so bad afterall.

If you cut all sources of fat out of your diet, you'd be extremely unhealthy, and possibly even dead. Your body needs three nutrients to thrive: protein, carbohydrates and fats.

You can get the healthy benefits of fats from nuts, seeds, fish, avocado and low fat dairy. Even villanized saturated fats have plenty of health benefits, but be sure to avoid the heavily processed trans fats that are found in many commercial products.

Myth: Switching To Sea Salt Reduces Your Sodium Intake

Sea salt may have a great PR agent these days, but in actuality it's not any healthier for you than regular table salt, and it will fill you up with just as much heart-damaging sodium. Your best bet is to add flavor to your food with pepper, herbs and spices instead.

Myth: Drinking More Water Can Peel Off Pounds

Water is absolutely essential for keeping you alive and healthy, but it's not going to cause you to shed weight. However, water can benefit your diet if you drink it in replacement of higher calorie drink options like juices and sodas.

Unfortunately though, adding extra water to your diet won't negate the other calories you have eaten that day.

Myth: Athletes Need A Ton Of Protein

The standard American diet provides plenty of protein for all but the most intensive athletes. The true secret for athletes trying to boost their abilities is to make sure they eat enough calories throughout the day. Protein is only helpful when it is combined with carbs for maximum nutrition.

Myth: Your Sweet Tooth Might Cause You To Develop Diabetes

Avoid chocolates, but don't be afraid to treat yourself sometimes, too!

It's common to be afraid that your favorite cakes and desserts will give you diabetes, but you don't have any reason to think that there is a direct correlation between your sugar intake and your risk of the disease.

Your Diabetes risk will rise, however if you are overweight and not getting exercise, so if your sugar habit is starting to pack on the pounds it's time for you to kick it to the curb.

In Summary

The science behind losing weight is surprisingly tricky, but it shouldn't seem impossible. With the proper mindset, a diet filled with whole foods and the right tools in place, you will be on your way to achieving your ideal body weight.

If the journey towards long term weight loss seems to difficult to travel, don't give up on yourself! You are worth every ounce of progress along the way, and we at Total Shape want to help you in every way we can.

Now, we invite you to share your weight loss thoughts with us! Losing weight is a community effort and we can benefit from learning from each other. What are some of your weight loss success stories or helpful advice that has worked for you? We'd love to hear about it.

About the author

Michael Garrico

I’m a 29-year-old personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Miami, FL. I’ve spent the last 10 years staying at the forefront of the health and fitness industry.

In that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people shed the excess weight and get into shape, maintaining their healthy new lifestyle through proper training and eating habits.

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