Finding the perfect diet for weight loss

Losing weight can be so elusive. Makes you wonder if there's a best diet -- low carb, low fat, intermittent fasting, cabbage soup?

The bottom line? Forget dieting. Make lifestyle changes. Diets are for the short-term and usually don't hold up over the long-term. If you're serious about losing weight, make a specific, measurable, achievable goals. Start by choosing high-fiber foods that will help you feel full, and watch added fats. Even a "healthy" fat like olive oil is calorically dense. Oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. 

In some ways, losing weight seems simple - expend more calories than are consumed and your body will use body fat for energy. We do that by eating less or by exercising more. We complicate the matter by trying to take a quick weight loss approach. 

Environmental Nutrition newsletter warns against falling for these four weight loss myths: 

Juicing helps you lose weight. Actually, replacing meals with juice isn't sustainable. When fruits and vegetables are juiced, components such as fiber are lost, but simple sugars remain. Drinking the equivalent of five fruits is not the same as eating those five fruits. Drinking calories for weight loss can be problematic because it eliminates the chewing process, making it easy to consume too much. Drinking 500 calories doesn't provide the same satiety as eating 500 whole food calories. 

Fasting is required for weight loss. Whether it's fasting or intermittent fasting, individuals end up returning to the eating habits that caused weight gain in the first place. More research is needed on intermittent fasting to know how it works long term. 

What works for one works for others. Weight loss is individual. Remember that what works for your neighbor may not work for you. An individual's support system and changes can greatly influence weight loss success beyond diet strategies. 

There are magical fat-burning foods. No one food significantly increases metabolism or triggers fat burning. It's difficult to lose weight successfully, so the appeal of magic foods, from coconut oil to super fruits, is strong. 

Q and A 

Q: Does yogurt really help build strong bones? 

A: If you're trying to keep your aging bones strong, yogurt may be your best dairy choice, suggests a recent study in Osteoporosis International. Researchers correlated the intake of dairy and other foods with bone mineral density in 4,300 older people in Ireland and found that yogurt (but not milk or cheese) was associated with higher bone mineral density and other markers of bone health. After adjusting for body weight, physical activity, overall diet quality and other factors related to bone health, they found that each additional weekly serving of yogurt was associated with higher bone mineral density and thus a reduced risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Some previous research, including the Framingham Offspring Study, also linked fermented milk products like yogurt to stronger bones. -- University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter. 


Looking for a quick and easy breakfast? Try these Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz Weiss, a registered dietitian and blog author of Liz's Healthy Table. 

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars 

1 cup quick cooking or old fashioned oats 

1 cup spoon-size shredded wheat cereal 

1 cup walnuts 

1 1/2 cups dried fruit (choose one or more of the following: dried plums/prunes, raisins, cherries, apricots, cranberries) 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 large eggs 

1/4 cup honey 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place the oats, shredded wheat, walnuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped (the fruit should be the size of a dried pea or lentil). Whisk together the eggs, honey, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined. Add the oat mixture and chocolate chips and stir to combine. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan, and flatten gently with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Bake about 18 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing into 12 (2 x 2 1/2- inch) bars. 

Per bar: 200 calories, 4 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 3 g fiber, 115 mg sodium. 

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