The 10 Best Secrets To Losing Weight

I came across this article in the November 1998 Issue of Redbook Magazine.  I thought it was an article worth passing along because it is so informative and clarifies some diet issues.  Most of what is said in this article is what I have learned during my journey to a healthier new lifestyle.

WHEN EACH NEW DIET THEORY HOLDS UP ABOUT AS LONG AS
THE TYPICAL DIET, WHAT'S A GIRL TO BELIEVE?
 THESE INFALLIBLE, GUARANTEED-TO-TAKE-THE-POUNDS-OFF RULES.

The secret to losing weight is packing in protein; it burns fat. No, scratch that. The trick is cutting out sugar and all food that turns to sugar, which is....everything.  Except fiber.  Okay, eat fiber, but don't...

The real secret to dieting is making sense out of the constantly changing - and conflicting - information that's out there. Newton's third law of motion could easily apply to weight-loss info:  For every theory that explains how to drop a pound, there will be an equal and opposite theory that turns the first one on it's head.  

But there are some body basics every dieter can (and should) work with.  For starters, there's the fact (uncontested so far) that one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.  To shed one pound, you have to create a shortfall of 3,500 calories, either by exercising more or eating less or both.  It's that simple.  But how best to create that deficit...ah, those are the tricks that will finally get the weight off - keep it off.

  1. YOUR BRAIN IS NOT RELIABLE  In study after study, people underestimate how much they eat, partly because they tend to overlook, say, the mayo in the tuna salad, and partly because many just don't know how much a tablespoon is. To get an accurate sense of your daily intake, use measuring cups and spoons when portioning out food.  Also, keep a food diary for three days (include one weekend day; your eating habits probably change a lot on Saturday and Sunday), writing down when, what, and how much you eat.  Anytime you need a reality check or you feel out of control, go back to keeping the diary.  A recent study published in the journal Health Psychology found that weight controllers who were most meticulous about writing down what they ate lost on average a half pound per week - and that was during the holidays!

  2. EAT FOODS YOU LOVE  Everyone is hardwired with her own eating inclinations and aversions, from needing two cups of coffee (and only coffee) every morning to loathing raw broccoli. If you're trying to override your preferences and force yourself to eat things you don't like, at times that don't feel right to you, you're simply not going to last long on that diet. "Many women make the mistake of jumping into a diet without taking into account their personal likes and dislikes," says Robert Kushner, M.D., medical director of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute in Chicago.  You'll have a better shot at sticking to a weight-loss plan if you choose one that matches your eating habits as much as possible and customize it to your quirks (steam that prescribed raw broccoli).

  3. THE WEAK GO HUNGRY  The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you can eat. That's because muscle burns calories around the clock, says Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., author of Strong Women Stay Slim.  So, someone who's strong will use up more calories just breathing than someone who's weak.  And the more you burn up, the more you can eat without gaining - up to a point, of course.  A study conducted at Tufts University in Boston found that sedentary women who replaced three pounds of fat with muscle by doing weight training two times a week for a year boosted their metabolism by about 15 percent, which translates into a nice 200 to 300 extra calories a day.  Good ways to build muscle:  weight training with machines or free weights; calisthenics or exercise classes such as yoga or Pilates may also help.

  4. THE WEAK GO HUNGRY, PART 2  Conversely, if you replace muscle with fat, you'll probably gain weight, because you'll be using fewer calories than before. This is why high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may ultimately make you heavier.  When you drastically cut carbs, your body turns to muscle for fuel, which means you lose muscle mass (as well as calcium from your bones).  It's better to shoot for a balanced diet of roughly 15-20 percent protein, 55-60 percent carbohydrates, and 20-30 percent fat.

  5. THE HUNGRY HOARD FAT  You should slash no more than 250 calories a day - the amount in one slice of bread and a piece of cheese.  Why?  If you underfeed your body, it will start - in a couple of weeks (and certainly by two months) - storing calories as fat.  How low can you go? That depends on your weight, but a woman should absolutely never consume less than 1,200 calories a day, says Ken Goodrick, Ph.D., assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.  If you go below the minimum, you probably won't be getting all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

  6. THE SLEEPY OVEREAT  People who don't get enough shut-eye are more likely to consume high-sugar, high-fat foods and drinks, says sleep researcher James Horne, author of Why We Sleep. It's theorized that when you aren't able to energize yourself with rest, you turn to quick-energy (read: high-calorie) food. So the next time you're up late tending to a sick child or finishing a work project, getting less than the recommended eight to nine hours, make sure you reach for sugar-free gum, water, or something that will fill you up without filling you out.

  7. YOUR STOMACH CAN BE FOOLED  "The volume and weight of food affect how satisfying it is and how much you eat of it," says Robert H. Eckel, M.D., vice-chairman of the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine and physiology and biophysics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.  You can fill your stomach with fewer calories if you load up with water and fiber - two things your body doesn't metabolize (meaning they don't contribute calories).  A bowl of chicken soup, for example, will probably leave you feeling more satiated than a piece of chicken; a side of peas is more filling than a slice of white bread.  Note:  The fiber should come from food - vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains - not powder or pills.

  8. RELY ON THE THREE-HOUR RULE  If you're tempted to munch within three hours of your last meal, you're probably feeling stress or boredom, not real hunger. (Thirst can also mask itself as hunger; drink a glass of water before you eat.) Try to pinpoint what's bothering you and fix it if you can.  If you can't, divert your temptation to eat - call a friend, organize your sock drawer, or read a book. Better yet, take a walk.

  9. A BLOWOUT WON'T BUST YOUR DIET  It's the number of calories you have for the week, not at one meal, that affects your weight, says Olympic coach Richard Brown, Ph.D., author of the 10-Minute LEAP:  Lifetime Exercise Adherence Plan. That's why you don't have to give up dining out.  If you're planning on splurging at the hot new restaurant in town, eat lighter during the day or sometime during the week.

  10. A BLOWOUT MAY PUT YOU ON TRACK  Try the "Big Day" diet:  Six days of eating healthily and intelligently and one day (the "Big Day") when you eat whatever you want.  The Big Day will be a big deal initially, but eventually, Dr. Brown promises, it will pass unnoticed. "After a while you don't want fattening foods because you know how good you feel - and look - eating well."  For the days you're eating dietetically, Dr. Brown recommends that you indulge yourself twice a day in some small way. "Give yourself something tiny that tastes good, makes you feel good, and that you can look forward to," he says.  Last fact:  You don't have to be miserable to be thin.

By Victoria Clayton