The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could lose weight simply by taking a pill, wearing a patch, or rubbing in a cream? Unfortunately, claims that you can lose weight without changing your habits just aren’t true, and some of these products could even hurt your health. So don’t be hooked by ads that woo you with wild promises – or by glowing product reviews and “news articles” that are often fake. All you’ll lose is money. Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree: the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.

If you’re looking to lose weight, watch this video and read the rest of the article. This information will help you identify false claims in weight loss ads and false online stories about weight loss products.

False promises in ads

Dishonest advertisers will say just about anything to get you to buy their weight loss products.
Here are some of the (false) promises from weight loss ads:

Here’s the truth:

  • Any promise of miraculous weight loss is simply untrue.
  • There’s no magic way to lose weight without a sensible diet and regular exercise.
  • No product will let you eat all the food you want and still lose weight.
  • Permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes, so don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results.
  • FDA-approved fat-absorption blockers or appetite suppressants won’t result in weight loss on their own; those products are to be taken with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.
  • Products promising lightning-fast weight loss are always a scam. Worse, they can ruin your health.
  • Even if a product could help some people lose weight in some situations, there’s no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Everyone’s habits and health concerns are unique.
  • Nothing you can wear or apply to your skin will cause you to lose weight. Period.

False stories online

Dishonest advertisers place false stories online through fake news websites, blogs, banner ads, and social media to sell bogus weight loss products. This is what they do:

  • Post false “news” stories. They create so-called “news” reports online about how an ingredient (like garcinia cambogia) found in a diet pill is supposedly effective for weight loss.
  • Use logos of legitimate news outlets. They place the stolen logos of real news organizations, or they use names and web addresses that look like those of well-known news outlets and websites.
  • Feature phony investigations. They say these false stories are “investigations” into the effectiveness of a product, and even add public photos of known reporters to make you think the report is real.
  • Pay for positive online reviews. Sometimes they write glowing online reviews themselves or pay others to do so. Sometimes they just cut and paste positive comments from other fake sites.
  • Use stock or altered photos. Very often they use images showing a dramatic weight loss, but these images are just stock or altered photographs.

For more information, visit FTC.gov/WeightLoss.

Other things to consider:

“Free” trial offers are often not free at all. Many people who have signed up for “free” trials have wound up paying a lot of money and have been billed for recurring shipments they didn’t want. For more on phony free trials, read the FTC’s article “Free” Trial Offers?

The FDA has found tainted weight loss products. In recent years, FDA has discovered hundreds of dietary supplements containing potentially harmful drugs or other chemicals not listed on the product label. Many of these products are for weight loss and bodybuilding.

Using an electronic muscle stimulator alone won’t work. You might have seen ads for electronic muscle stimulators claiming they will tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, help you lose weight, or get rock-hard abs. But, according to FDA, while these devices may temporarily strengthen, tone, or firm a muscle, they haven’t been shown to help you lose weight … or get those “six-pack” abs. For more on electronic muscle stimulator, read FDA’s information on these products.

To learn about healthy eating, visit Nutrition.gov, ChooseMyPlate.gov, or the Weight-control Information Network.

Report fraudulent weight loss product claims to the FTC. You also can contact your state Attorney General.

Thanks to Middleweb and School Library Journal for recommending this resource.
See also ADVERTISING

KEY QUOTES
“Testimonials from individuals are not a substitute for science, and that’s what Americans need to understand.”
FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, quoted in Jan. ’07 AP story about FTC fines against weight loss product producers for false/misleading advertising”If you see an ad for a weight-loss product making fantastic claims, keep your money in your pocket,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Source

INTRODUCTION
Did you ever hear the phrase “caveat emptor” (“let the buyer beware”)? That’s pretty good advice, especially when it comes to the promises made by diet and weight loss advertisers after the new year. Yes, it’s that time of year again–for the weight loss ad explosion. Magazines (like these below) in particular feature cover stories on losing weight. And weight loss advertising seems to be everywhere, especially in these new year’s publications

Do your students know how to analyze/read/deconstruct print ads? I have previously written about how to do just that for MiddleWeb.com (a website for middle grades parents and educators.) Here is one worksheet that you might use with your students: it includes some good starting questions for them to consider.

Presented here are some resources, ads, and activities that will encourage young people to use “critical thinking skills” as it relates to these persuasive forms of advertising. Since teaching ad technique and awareness is in most state’s health teaching standards, these ads are perfect for use in classroom settings. If you have comments, please send them to me: [email protected]

BACKGROUND
In early December 2003, the Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines to the media about accepting advertisements for weight loss products which may be deceptive in their claims. Read how the media covered the story.

FTC Advice issued December 2008: Have some healthy skepticism. Consumers can learn how to spot health scams, such as fake cancer cures and bogus weight loss products, and do some research on buying generic drugs, Lasik eye surgery, and using dietary supplements. Consumers can learn about rights they may not even know they had – like the right to obtain a copy of prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses at www.ftc.gov/health. ( See also the FTC website: Red Flag: Bogus Weight Loss Claims)

Presented below are several ads for educators/parents to consider using. Use of these ads in this context does not imply any deception. Rather I invite educators/parents/students to use media literacy concepts and critical thinking questions and apply them to these ads.

Typical ads for analysis & deconstruction (many located on web pages)

FTC Fake WebSite for Student evaluation: FatFoe

Recent news articles/research:

Spotting Fake Celebrity Endorsements in Ads (October 2016)
Public Deceptions: Diet Lies from Social Media (March 2016)
How Far Can Companies Stretch The Truth In Ads (Sept. 2014)
FTC Fines Marketers for Deceptive Claims (July 2014)
Dieters beware: Those before-and-after weight-loss photos aren’t always legit (February 2014)
FTC cracking down on deceptive weight-loss ads (January 2014)

VIDEOS: If Celebrity Diet Ads Were Honest (Cracked)
If Diet Ads Told The Truth
The Truth Behind Diet Advertising

Vintage Weight Loss Ads
Diet companies now targeting men
Fake weight-loss ads on Web lead to FTC settlement (March 2012)
Viral Video Reveals Dramatic Before & After Infomercial Diet Tricks (Feb. 2012)
Why Weight-Loss & Diet Commercials Are Dangerous (Jan. 2012)
New Year Brings New Diet-Company Ads, Programs
Jenny Craig Ends Ad Campaign After Lawsuit
Weight Watchers sues Jenny Craig for Bertinelli ad
Marketers of Unproven Weight-Loss Products Ordered to Pay Nearly $2 Million (Jan. 2010)
FTC wants more scrutiny of weight-loss ads (July 2009)
New Year, New Round of Diet Programs
Internet Marketers of Dietary Supplement for Weight Loss Agree to Pay $150,000 (Dec. 2008)
Before & After Ads Lead to Bias (Nov. 2008)
TrimSpa’s Ads Change After Anna Nicole
Claims in diet-pill ads are too good to be true, FTC
Sellers of Popular Weight Loss Supplements Pay $25 Million Over FTC Allegations of Deceptive Advertising
Diet ads under scrutiny
FTC To Require Four Weight Loss Pill Companies To Change Ads And Pay Penalties
What You Need to Know About Weight-Loss Programs (Jan.2007)
Americans fall prey to weight-loss supplement hype (Oct.2006)
How adolescent girls interpret weight loss advertising (July 2006)
FTC to start naming bogus ad broadcasters
Diet & Hype (Newsweek March 2006)
“Before and After” diet ads not fair on obese people: Study
FTC Stops Bogus Ads for ‘Bio Trim’ and Other Weight-loss Products (Nov.2005)
This diet pill contains saturated advertising (July 2005)
Diet pill use on the rise among teenage girls (May 2005)
FTC Sees Drop in Ads with False Weight-Loss Claims( April 2005)
Weight Loss Ad Claims Disputed, Study (Dec.2004)
Diet ads promote stereotypes
Miracle-Diet Ads Lie? Well, Duh! (TIME)
Weighing the evidence in diet ads (FTC)

Download Soloflex Ad (August 2006)

Online ad for TIMSPA featuring before and after shots of actress/model Anna Nicole Smith.
(I don’t know who they’re trying to fool, but the picture on the left was obviously taken years earlier)

small print above reads:
*The “546% weight loss” claim is based soley on Zantrex-3’s active weight-loss
component. However, Zantrex-3’s non-ephedrine, xanthine-based Super Stimulant TM
has been shown to produce additional weight loss in some studies.
+For full study details visit www.Zantrex-3.com

Magazines to Makeover Your Body

Want advice on slimming? Then forget going to your doctor. According to the covers of most women’s magazines you’ll find plenty of information inside their pages. Whether it’s a new celeb diet or the hottest exercise trend, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit in most women’s magazines.

But as well as popular weekly and monthly magazines featuring diet, health and fitness stories, there are also plenty of magazines dedicated solely to the area of slimming. Here’s Juliette’s reviews of 5 of the most popular sellers.

Two sets of marks out of 10 have been awarded, one based on the magazine’s suitability to help you with slimming and one based on overall content and feel.

The Five Magazines:

Slimming Magazine 14/20

Juliette’s highest overall score goes to Slimming for it’s inspirational features and for keeping the needs of slimmers in mind.

Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Magazine 12/20

Juliette liked the easy to follow diet plan but is less than impressed with uninspiring features.

Slimming World Magazine 3/20

Great success stories in this mag, but the diet info’s not much use to anyone who’s not a club member.

Weight Watchers Magazine 2/20

Not much here for anyone other than Weight Watchers members, a lot of advertising for the brand.

Slimmer Magazine 1/20

The success stories were the one redeeming feature for Juliette, otherwise it’s a thumbs down.

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Use the slimming tools in WLR – we guarantee an enlightening experience! Try it free for 24 hours.

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Related Information

Health and Fitness Magazine Reviews

Juliette’s Diet Book Reviews

1. Power down portions

To see how our serves have grown over the past 50 years, check out your grandparents’ wedding plates or teacups, suggests Clare Collins, professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle. “You might think they’re side plates because they’re so small, but those were the real serving sizes,” she says. Why size matters in this case? A 2016 Deakin University study discovered that people who were given large plates ate 41 per cent more than those with a dish half the size. So, try this trick: buy your dinner set from an antiques store (or just scale down your choices in Kmart) to naturally reduce your kJ intake. “If you shrink your plates, you’ll think you’re just as satisfied with a smaller amount of food,” says Collins. “And your brain doesn’t know it’s been tricked.” Easy as.

2. Clue in to cues

We’re being cued to eat or drink everywhere, whether it’s by the Maccas ad on the bus stop or the two-for-one lolly bags at the supermarket checkout. Not ideal, since exposure to food cues significantly influences eating behaviour and weight gain, according to a 2016 study in Obesity Reviews. To manage your kilo-count long-term (and outsmart those sneaky food juggernauts), start to manage the potential pitfalls around you. “The more you are aware of , the more you can say, ‘Hey, I had a slip up today because this environment sabotaged me’,” says Collins. Recognising environmental triggers is the first step, and then you can find a strategy. “For some people it’s diversion (phone a friend or walk in the opposite direction); for others, having an alternative to the food cue (like an apple instead of a chocolate bar) really works.”

3. Head for the Med

For the grub as well as the European summer. The Mediterranean diet was ranked the best diet of 2018 by the US News & World Report, based on nine categories such as how easy it is to stick to and the likelihood of losing weight on it. The approach is characterised by heaps of veg, fruit, seafood and legumes, and smaller amounts of meat and dairy. Plus, of course, those healthy fats in things like fish and olive oil. “I use it as a tool for people who already consume a high-fat diet and just convert the types of fat to extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados,” says dietitian Stefanie Valakas. The other bonus? “It focuses on the social aspect of eating,” she adds. “Making more social will help keep your attention on how you’re feeling, rather than mindlessly eating.”

RELATED: ‘I Tried The Mediterranean Diet To Lose Weight — Here’s What Happened’

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4. Join the breakfast club

Some pros recommend having the majority of our daily food at brekkie, while others reckon skipping your AM meal altogether will help you drop kilos (looking at you, 5:2). But, the general consensus falls with the first option. “In the long-term, having regular meals including breakfast is a really helpful strategy ,” says Collins. She points to the National Weight Control Registry in the US, a longstanding study of people who have lost an average of 30 kilos and kept it off for more than five years. “ is one thing these long-term successful people do.” Chuck eggs or beans on your plate to dial up the protein: eating more of the macro, especially at brekkie, can support a healthy slim-down by keeping cravings in check over the day, reveals a 2018 CSIRO report. All that said, don’t force food down if eating first thing really isn’t your jam (on toast). “Some people might not feel hungry in the morning or it may make their stomach upset. If that’s the case, try a later breakfast or larger morning tea,” says Valakas. Brunch for the win.

5. Mind the scales

In the pro corner: weigh-ins can be useful motivators. In fact, a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found adults who weighed themselves daily lost more weight than those who didn’t. But, on the anti side, many experts are wary to recommend hopping on the scales every day. Weight management psychologist Glenn Mackintosh often notices that once clients take their focus off the numbers, they feel happier and less under pressure. “Learn to enjoy movement and healthy eating not as a weight-loss behaviour, but as a naturally healthy thing that our bodies are designed to do,” he says. If you stick with the scales, weigh yourself at the same time every day to reduce fluctuations, and be aware of patterns over time rather than letting a spike get you down. But if they make you feel demotivated or stressed, measure change via other factors: your jeans feeling looser, running up the stairs sans puff or feeling more energised.

6. Love lifting

Pumping iron may not blast the kilos like cardio (a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found resistance trainers lost less weight than cardio bunnies), but that’s not a bad thing: what you lose in fat, you gain back in muscle mass. Why this helps with long-term weight loss? The higher your muscle mass, the higher your resting metabolic rate (that is, the amount of energy you burn doing nothing at all), explains Harrisberg. “Resistance training is a way of depleting glycogen from the muscle, which then makes space for the carbs you eat, rather than your body saying ‘OK, we’ve got excess, let’s convert it to fat’.” In short, more muscle equals more kJ-torching power.

RELATED: This Is How Much Strength Training You Should Actually Do Every Week

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7. HIIT it up

Yeah, you’ve heard it before, but interval training really is your superhero here. Researchers from the University of New South Wales agree it’s an effective weight loss strategy for women: subjects who did intervals for 20 minutes, three times a week, trimmed down faster than steady-paced exercisers who worked out for twice as long.

Intervals prompt excess post-exercise oxygen consumption – basically, because you’re working so hard during your sesh, you can’t breathe quickly enough and so your body works anaerobically (without oxygen). “It’s priming your body to burn fat later in the day to repay this debt that you’ve created during your session,” Harrisberg explains. Meaning you have an “afterburn” effect, torching kilojoules hours after you’ve finished training. Winner.

8. Be the tortoise

Crash dieting is a surefire way to derail your goals. “Your body wants to maintain homeostasis; it wants to stay the same. So if you cut your metabolism goes, ‘we’re losing weight really fast here, we better slow the hell down’,” warns Harrisberg. The result? It takes on a snail’s pace – then struggles to adjust when you increase your food intake again. Hello, weight gain. So, make small changes to your diet that you can sustain over time. Valakas’ general rule is to aim for half to one kilo of weight loss per week. Slow and steady wins this race.

9. Eat mindfully

Mindfulness really does deserve the royal-wedding-level hype – it’s as good for your waist line as it is your head space. Just take the intel from a 2013 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: people who ate while distracted (watching TV or scrolling Insta) consumed 10 per cent more kilojoules during the meal and 25 per cent more later in the day than those who paid attention to what they were eating. Um, we’re sold – but how? “It’s about not seeing eating as another task on a long to-do list. Instead try setting a little bit of time aside for yourself to enjoy food,” says Valakas. Focus on enjoying each bite and tune into how you feel while eating. “Ask yourself how full you feel during the meal instead of feeling obligated to eat whatever’s in front of you. Eat until you feel content, not stuffed.” Got it.

10. Hit the sack

Sleep is a scientifically proven weight-loss strategy. A study in Nature Communications found people who’d had a full night’s rest preferred healthier foods than their kip-deprived companions, who craved junk. Need more? US researchers from Stanford University tested 1024 volunteers, and those who hadn’t clocked enough sleep had elevated levels of hunger hormone ghrelin and reduced levels of satiety hormone leptin – meaning they were more likely to eat more, more often. The takeaway? Switch off The Handmaid’s Tale and hit the hay. You know the tricks (dark room, no tech), but also try telling yourself to stay awake while in bed. Sounds weird, but a study in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy actually reports that people who did this found it easier to fall asleep and had less anxiety about the process.

This article originally featured in the August issue of Women’s Health magazine

How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

There’s a better way to lose weight. These dieting tips can help you avoid diet pitfalls and achieve lasting weight-loss success.

Pick up any diet book and it will claim to hold all the answers to successfully losing all the weight you want—and keeping it off. Some claim the key is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only way to go, while others prescribe cutting out carbs. So, what should you believe?

The truth is there is no “one size fits all” solution to permanent healthy weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you, since our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the method of weight loss that’s right for you will likely take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.

While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.

Remember: while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.

Four popular weight loss strategies

1. Cut calories

Some experts believe that successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds easy, right? Then why is losing weight so hard?

  • Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
  • A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
  • Many of us don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to relieve stress—which can quickly derail any weight loss plan.

2. Cut carbs

A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this glucose before it burns off fat from a meal.

If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.

Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.

3. Cut fat

It’s a mainstay of many diets: if you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat fat. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you’ll be bombarded with reduced-fat snacks, dairy, and packaged meals. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity rates. So, why haven’t low-fat diets worked for more of us?

  1. Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
  2. We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.

4. Follow the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs along with large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil—and only modest amounts of meat and cheese. The Mediterranean diet is more than just about food, though. Regular physical activity and sharing meals with others are also major components.

Whatever weight loss strategy you try, it’s important to stay motivated and avoid common dieting pitfalls, such as emotional eating.

Control emotional eating

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:

Stressed – find healthier ways to calm yourself. Try yoga, meditation, or soaking in a hot bath.

Low on energy – find other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. Try walking around the block, listening to energizing music, or taking a short nap.

Lonely or bored – reach out to others instead of reaching for the refrigerator. Call a friend who makes you laugh, take your dog for a walk, or go to the library, mall, or park—anywhere there’s people.

Practice mindful eating instead

Avoid distractions while eating. Try not to eat while working, watching TV, or driving. It’s too easy to mindlessly overeat.

Pay attention. Eat slowly, savoring the smells and textures of your food. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention to your food and how it tastes.

Mix things up to focus on the experience of eating. Try using chopsticks rather than a fork, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.

Stop eating before you are full. It takes time for the signal to reach your brain that you’ve had enough. Don’t feel obligated to always clean your plate.

Stay motivated

Permanent weight loss requires making healthy changes to your lifestyle and food choices. To stay motivated:

Find a cheering section. Social support means a lot. Programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to impact weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Seek out support—whether in the form of family, friends, or a support group—to get the encouragement you need.

Slow and steady wins the race. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel sluggish, drained, and sick. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week so you’re losing fat rather than water and muscle.

Set goals to keep you motivated. Short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually don’t work as well as wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your children’s sakes. When temptation strikes, focus on the benefits you’ll reap from being healthier.

Use tools to track your progress. Smartphone apps, fitness trackers, or simply keeping a journal can help you keep track of the food you eat, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose. Seeing the results in black and white can help you stay motivated.

Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep stimulates your appetite so you want more food than normal; at the same time, it stops you feeling satisfied, making you want to keep eating. Sleep deprivation can also affect your motivation, so aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night.

Cut down on sugar and refined carbs

Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.

Less sugar can mean a slimmer waistline

Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, and candy) are more likely to add to fat around your belly. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.

Fill up with fruit, veggies, and fiber

Even if you’re cutting calories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less food. High-fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are higher in volume and take longer to digest, making them filling—and great for weight-loss.

It’s generally okay to eat as much fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables as you want—you’ll feel full before you’ve overdone it on the calories.

Eat vegetables raw or steamed, not fried or breaded, and dress them with herbs and spices or a little olive oil for flavor.

Add fruit to low sugar cereal—blueberries, strawberries, sliced bananas. You’ll still enjoy lots of sweetness, but with fewer calories, less sugar, and more fiber.

Bulk out sandwiches by adding healthy veggie choices like lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and avocado.

Snack on carrots or celery with hummus instead of a high-calorie chips and dip.

Add more veggies to your favorite main courses to make your dish more substantial. Even pasta and stir-fries can be diet-friendly if you use less noodles and more vegetables.

Start your meal with salad or vegetable soup to help fill you up so you eat less of your entrée.

Take charge of your food environment

Set yourself up for weight-loss success by taking charge of your food environment: when you eat, how much you eat, and what foods you make easily available.

Cook your own meals at home. This allows you to control both portion size and what goes in to the food. Restaurant and packaged foods generally contain a lot more sugar, unhealthy fat, and calories than food cooked at home—plus the portion sizes tend to be larger.

Serve yourself smaller portions. Use small plates, bowls, and cups to make your portions appear larger. Don’t eat out of large bowls or directly from food containers, which makes it difficult to assess how much you’ve eaten.

Eat early. Studies suggest that consuming more of your daily calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner can help you drop more pounds. Eating a larger, healthy breakfast can jump start your metabolism, stop you feeling hungry during the day, and give you more time to burn off the calories.

Fast for 14 hours a day. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast until breakfast the next morning. Eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestion a long break may aid weight loss.

Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You can create your own small portion snacks in plastic bags or containers. Eating on a schedule will help you avoid eating when you aren’t truly hungry.

Drink more water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger, so by drinking water you can avoid extra calories.

Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. If you share a kitchen with non-dieters, store indulgent foods out of sight.

Get moving

The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.

Lack time for a long workout? Three 10-minute spurts of exercise per day can be just as good as one 30-minute workout.

Remember: anything is better than nothing. Start off slowly with small amounts of physical activity each day. Then, as you start to lose weight and have more energy, you’ll find it easier to become more physically active.

Find exercise you enjoy. Try walking with a friend, dancing, hiking, cycling, playing Frisbee with a dog, enjoying a pickup game of basketball, or playing activity-based video games with your kids.

Keeping the Weight Off

You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose weight on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.

Since it was established in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies. Whatever diet you use to lose weight in the first place, adopting these habits may help you to keep it off:

  • Stay physically active. Successful dieters in the NWCR study exercise for about 60 minutes, typically walking.
  • Keep a food log. Recording what you eat every day helps to keep you accountable and motivated.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Most commonly in the study, it’s cereal and fruit. Eating breakfast boosts metabolism and staves off hunger later in the day.
  • Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat than the typical American diet.
  • Regularly check the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may help you to detect any small gains in weight, enabling you to promptly take corrective action before the problem escalates.
  • Watch less television. Cutting back on the time spent sitting in front of a screen can be a key part of adopting a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.

Weight loss magazine article

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