Melt away the pounds - and other myths of fad diets

It seems nearly everyday we hear of a new weight loss diet that promises to melt away the pounds or make weight loss effortless.  Anyone who has ever dieted, knows deep down that this is impossible, but many of us continue to try the latest fad. The problem with fad diets is that they have no solid scientific research behind them.  For example, researchers are just beginning to study popular high protein diets. Preliminary results show they produce early weight loss followed by rapid weight gain once a person stops dieting.  Its also unclear if a high protein diet is safe over the long term.

Most diet experts agree that to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn.  But does it matter where those calories come from?  As it turns out, current research says yes.  There are some foods that will hurt and some that help more than others.  Heres the latest on the diet front:

Low-fat dairy boosts weight loss.

When studies were done on high blood pressure, researchers found that dairy foods can help lower blood pressure because they contain a natural ACF inhibitor, similar to that found in common blood pressure medications.  A surprise finding from these studies showed that dairy foods also can help you lose weight.  Researchers believe a protein in milk called whey helps people shed pounds.  Calcium supplements, although good for preventing osteoporosis, dont have an effect on weight. Remember to choose low-fat dairy foods such as skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, and nonfat or low-fat yogurt.

Sugar-sweetened drinks (soda, for instance) promote obesity.

Many studies have linked sugar-sweetened soda to weight gain in both children and adults.  Each 12 ounce can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar and no nutrients other than calories- 160 calories that you dont need.

Limiting some carbs is effective for weight loss.

All carbohydrates are not created equal. Carbs from white sugar- candy, cakes, pies, and cookies- are the ones that cause weight gain. Other carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and carbs in dairy foods promote weight control.  The National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have lost weight and kept it off, reports that successful dieters eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Whole grains can keep blood sugar stable.

Weight gain can lead to problems controlling blood sugar, which eventually can lead to type 2 diabetes.  Whole grains are high in fiber, which slows digestion and can help keep blood sugar levels down.  A high-fiber diet also can help prevent weight gain because fiber makes you feel full but has very few calories.  Rye in particular contains compounds that may help protect the pancreas, which is where insulin is made.  Look for whole grain rye bread and rye crackers.

To sum up:

Dont depend on the latest in diets to help those pounds disappear.  Adding low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to your diet along with regular exercise will help you shed the pounds and, more importantly, keep them off.    

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