The key to weight loss? Calories.

Calorie Scale

Some previous studies have found that low carbohydrate diets like Atkins work better than a traditional low-fat diet. But the new research found that the key to losing weight boiled down to a basic rule — calories in, calories out.



“The hidden secret is it doesn’t matter if you focus on low-fat or low-carb,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the research.


Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key, she said.


The study, which appears in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, was led by Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.


Slashing calories

Researchers randomly assigned 811 overweight adults to one of four diets, each of which contained different levels of fat, protein and carbohydrates.


Though the diets were twists on commercial plans, the study did not directly compare popular diets. The four diets contained healthy fats, were high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and were low in cholesterol.


Nearly two-thirds of the participants were women. Each dieter was encouraged to slash 750 calories a day from their diet, exercise 90 minutes a week, keep an online food diary and meet regularly with diet counselors to chart their progress.


There was no winner among the different diets; reduction in weight and waist size were similar in all groups.


People lost 13 pounds on average at six months, but all groups saw their weight creep back up after a year. At two years, the average weight loss was about 9 pounds while waistlines shrank an average of 2 inches. Only 15 percent of dieters achieved a weight-loss reduction of 10 percent or more of their starting weight.


Dieters who got regular counseling saw better results. Those who attended most meetings shed more pounds than those who did not — 22 pounds compared with the average 9 pound loss.

Dietary Recommendations from

My Pyramid

Great general recommendations from THE USDA’s Discuss with your health care provider first before starting any change in diet or exercise.


To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.



Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.

For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.

To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.



Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000-calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.

Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.

Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.

Nutrition After Cancer Treatment


Most eating-related side effects of cancer treatments go away after the treatment ends. Sometimes side effects such as poor appetite, dry mouth, change in taste or smell,trouble swallowing, or significant weight loss may last for some time. If this happens to you, talk to your health care team and work out a plan to address the problem.

As you begin to feel better, you may have questions about eating a healthful diet. Just as you wanted to go into treatment with the necessary nutrient stores that your diet could give you, you’ll want to do the best for yourself at this important time. There’s very little research to suggest that the foods you eat will keep your cancer from coming back. But eating well will help you regain your strength, rebuild tissue, and feel better overall. And certainly, what you eat can help reduce risk for other cancers.


Suggestions for healthy eating after cancer


Check with your doctor for any food or diet restrictions.

Ask your dietitian to help you create a nutritious, balanced eating plan.

Choose a variety of foods from all the food groups. Try to eat at least 5 to 7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables.

Eat plenty of high-fiber foods, such as whole grain breads and cereals.

Buy a new fruit, vegetable, low-fat food, or whole grain product each time you shop for groceries.

Decrease the amount of fat in your meals by baking or broiling foods.

Choose low-fat milk and dairy products.

Avoid salt-cured, smoked, and pickled foods.

If you choose to drink, drink alcohol only occasionally.

If you are overweight, consider losing weight by reducing the amount of fat in your diet and increasing your activity. Choose activities that you enjoy. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Five Ways to Lead a Healthier Life

Glass of Water

Gabrielle Reece of Yahoo Health has these great hints and tips for living a healthier lifestyle!

1. Drink only water, with the exception of your beloved coffee in the morning. According to studies, this would eliminate 20% of our caloric intake and help all of our body functions run more smoothly.


2. Cut down your portions

I’m not even going to say what to eat and not eat. I’m just saying if you are having that sub at lunch cut it in half. We all overeat, so just eat until you are full. I’ts difficult to do, so halve the food and get it away from you. If it’s sitting there you will want to eat it.


3. Don’t skip breakfast

You will have a 70% chance of overeating throughout your day if you skip breakfast.


4. Keep a food journal

This will help you see exactly what you are eating and when. You will even be able to see patterns of grabbing food at stressful moments, etc. Journaling just makes you aware and in charge of your food–not the other way around.


5. If you can avoid it, don’t eat after 7 p.m.

On business dinners or birthday gatherings don’t worry about it. But when you can, try to finish eating earlier in the day.


These are great tips for anyone wanting to be healthier. This is a great start, along with cutting out processed foods, cutting down meats, increasing your vegetable intake (minus the starchy, carb-loaded vegetables). Another great tip is to walk at least 30 minutes per day! Good luck!

Newsweek Posts Six Worst Diets of 2009

worst diets

Newsweek posted an article on the six worst diets of 2009 so far.

As we all know, and say it with me, there’s no such thing as a diet! Newsweek has taken the trouble to research and find the worst of the worst. Without further ado:


1. The Fat-Free Diet

The theory: Eat whatever you want as long as it has no fat. If your diet contains no fat, you won’t get fat.

Reality check: While it’s true that extra fat in your diet adds calories, just sticking to foods touted as fat free doesn’t necessarily help. Supermarket shelves are crammed with products advertised as fat free that are loaded with sugar and empty calories and that offer little in the way of fiber, vitamins or minerals. Check product labels before you buy.


2. The Snack-Pack Diet

The theory: Cookies and chips sorted into 100-calorie packs help limit the damage from an attack of the munchies.

Reality check: The dozens of 100-calorie snack pack foods on the market now may offer a lower-calorie alternative, but few of them are truly healthy choices, and they aren’t likely to be very filling or fiber rich, which can send you running for another bag or something less healthy.


3. The Couch-Potato Diet

The theory: Who needs exercise? You can lose weight without working out! Cutting back on calories is enough.

Reality check: Who needs exercise? You do. Studies have shown that dieters who change what they eat and increase their regular activity are more likely to lose and keep weight off. Increasing activity has other health benefits as well, such as lowering your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of women. Even a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk most days of the week can make a big difference.




4. The Detox Plan

The theory: You’ll lose weight when you clean out your insides by downing a concoction made from orange juice and molasses or some other bizarre mix.

Reality check: There’s no evidence that purging your intestines of “toxins” makes you any healthier or more likely to lose weight. A high-fiber diet is all you really need.


5 . The Beef and Bacon Diet

The theory: All protein, all the time, and don’t worry too much about fat.

Reality check: Cutting down on carbs, especially empty carbs like white flour and white rice, can help you lose weight, but a diet that contains large amounts of fatty meat simply isn’t healthy.


6. The Twinkie Diet

The theory: Calories are all that counts, so eat whatever you want, including nothing but Twinkies, and you will lose weight as long as your total is under your daily limit.

Reality check: Although calories do count, the source of those calories is important. If you eat only junk, your body will lose out on vital nutrients and that can have long-term consequences for your health. So watch those calories, and watch where they come from.


What’s the worst diet you’ve been on? The worst one I’ve been in is starvation.

Beware of Unintended Consequence of a (too) Low-Carb Diet

The Human Brain

Keep your mind in mind when dieting, say Nutrition professionals.

Losing weight is a common resolution each New Year and a fantastic one. What better way to start the New Year than to promise ourselves to take care of our bodies. Many think starving themselves is the best way to losing weight. When you starve yourself or drastically cut out carbs, you may be putting your mind and cognitive skills at risk. Robin Nixon on Live Science came up with these five pittfalls to avoid:


1. The Brain constitutes less than two percent of our body’s weight, yet it is responsible for taking twenty percent of the nutrients we ingest. Plus, it’s a picky eater (much like that 2 year old you used to be–but it never grew up). The brain prefers carbs, but only heatlhy carbs: fruits, grains, vegetables. The frontal cortex is prone to confused thinking when your glucose levels drop, where as high glucose levels slowly but surely damage cells everywhere in the body, including those in the brain, said Marc Montminy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.


2. Eat many small meals throughout the day. There have been studies that show eating six small, well balanced meals throughout the day is healthier and better on the body than three big meals. The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana. Hate the thought of eating so many times during the day? There’s more.


3. A lower glycemic index (GI) may be the meal plan for you. The glycemic index ranks foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs, by and large, are higher GI foods, whereas vegetables, high in fiber content, are lower GI foods. Have a sandwich consisting of High Fiber whole wheat bread, with some meat or other protein, slather a little olive oil, and you have a lunch that is brain-friendly.


4. Fat is where it’s at: Trans fats, common in fast food, are the worst. Saturated fats are not great. Unsaturated fat is the healthiest. Saturated Fats are unhealthy for your brains. If saturated fats (think fast food, fried-anything) are bad for your heart, think of what they’r doing for your brain.

Speaking of fat for brains, essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3s, are proving valuable in treating depression and other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as benefiting infant brain development, Green said.


5. Finally, you know your brain and body and how it best responds to fats. Do you want to nap after a heavy-fat-and-cholesterol-laden lunch? Are you grumpy or faint? It may be time to take a second look at what you’re feeding your brain.

Heavy? Aim for 1,000

Regardless of where you find yourself on the scale after the holidays, a few extra walks will still do wonders for your heart.


Even if you’re well above your ideal weight, burning off about 1,000 calories a week helps improve your cardiovascular health and reduces your risk of heart disease.


Batting 1,000 — At Least

After a decade-long study, researchers have found that burning about 1,000 calories a week through exercise was enough to significantly lower the risk of coronary heart disease in women who are obese. It didn’t totally erase their risk, but study participants were far better off than obese women who got little or no exercise.


Exercise, in any shape or form, is proven medicine for your heart — lowering blood pressure, improving blood vessel function, and possibly inhibiting certain types of blood-clot-encouraging chemicals released by fat cells.


How to Make the Mark

So what does it take to shed an extra 1,000 calories a week? Depends on your size and how hard you work out. You could burn anywhere from 125 to 200-plus calories with 30 minutes of walking — so you’d need to hit the pavement several times each week. No matter how big or small your New Year’s fitness goal is, RealAge can help you stay on track.