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The Weight Loss Rules

May 17, 2008
Losing weight has never been easier. "We know so much more about dieting-and keeping the weight off than we did five years ago," says Susan Head, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in weight management in Durham, North Carolina. The latest studies prove that a weight-loss plan doesn't have to be strict and unforgiving to work. Experts now believe that helping dieters adopt small lifestyle changes is more effective than forcing them to radically overhaul their eating habits.

Want a taste? Try these principles.

Rule : Keep moving "In study after study, people who exercise maintain their weight loss longer," says Holly Wyatt, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. In fact, in one study of 3,000 people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more, 90 percent said they were using exercise as a way to maintain their newfound weight. An hour a day was the norm. Sound like a lot? The good news is that everything counts taking the stairs, running for the commuter train, etc.

The Bad news? "studies also show that exercise alone doesn't help you slim down," says Dr. Wyatt. In Other words, you'll still need to count calories and watch portions.

Rule : Eat

When it comes to weight loss, "many people still think eating as little as possible is best," says C.Wayne Callaway, M.D., an associate clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"They skip breakfast and have a light lunch, then have trouble controlling their hunger at night," he says. To break the binge cycle, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every dat at regular times, even if you're not hungry. (You soon will be.) And make sure those meals are nutritionally adequate.

"your goal should be to eat enough protein, fat and fiber-rich complex carbohydrates at each meal so that you don't feel deprived," Dr. Callaway says.

Rule : Fat is your friend

"Most people can't stick to a very low-fat diet for long," says Kathy McManus, R.D., director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in lished in the International Journal of Obesity, found that people who followed a portion-controlled moderate-fat diet maintained their weight loss longer than those who got only 20 percent of their calories form fat. The type of fat you choose is essential. Opt for heart healthy monounsaturated and poly unsaturated fats, found in olive oil, nuts, avocado and seafood.

Rule : Replace a meal

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who used low-calorie meal replacements in addition to following a balanced diet lost more weight and kept it off longer than those who didn't. Meal replacements work because portion sizes and calories are controlled, say researchers. Look for shakes or bars that offer no more than seven grams of fat, at least 300 calories, 10 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbs, plus some fiber. And remember, they're meant to replace meals, not to be drunk with meals or as on-the-go snacks.
About the Author
Jack Vallieres is the professional freelance writer. He's also the webmaster of Healthyideal.com
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