When we lose weight, where does it go?

The world is obsessed with fad diets and weight loss, yet few of us know how a kilogram of fat actually vanishes off the scales.

Even the 150 doctors, dietitians and personal trainers we surveyed shared this surprising gap in their health literacy. The most common misconception by far, was that fat is converted to energy. The problem with this theory is that it violates the law of conservation of matter, which all chemical reactions obey.

Some respondents thought fat turns into muscle, which is impossible, and others assumed it escapes via the colon. Only three of our respondents gave the right answer, which means 98% of the health professionals in our survey could not explain how weight loss works.

So if not energy, muscles or the loo, where does fat go?

The enlightening facts about fat metabolismThe correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.

If you lose 10kg of fat, precisely 8.4kg comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6kg turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.

This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat comes back out via the lungs. Every carbohydrate you digest and nearly all the fats are converted to carbon dioxide and water. The same goes for alcohol.

Protein shares the same fate, except for the small part that turns into urea and other solids, which you excrete as urine.

The only thing in food that makes it to your colon undigested and intact is dietary fibre (think corn). Everything else you swallow is absorbed into your bloodstream and organs and, after that, it’s not going anywhere until you’ve vaporised it.

Kilograms in versus kilograms out

We all learn that “energy in equals energy out” in high school. But energy is a notoriously confusing concept, even among health professionals and scientists who study obesity.

The reason we gain or lose weight is much less mysterious if we keep track of all the kilograms, too, not just those enigmatic kilojoules or calories.

According to the latest government figures, Australians consume 3.5kg of food and beverages every day. Of that, 415 grams is solid macronutrients, 23 grams is fibre and the remaining 3kg is water.

What’s not reported is that we inhale more than 600 grams worth of oxygen, too, and this figure is equally important for your waistline.

Walking increases our resting metabolic rate by 300%. from http://www.shutterstock.com

If you put 3.5kg of food and water into your body, plus 600 grams of oxygen, then 4.1kg of stuff needs to come back out, or you’ll gain weight. If you’re hoping to shed some weight, more than 4.1kg will have to go. So how do you make this happen?The 415 grams of carbohydrates, fats, protein and alcohol most Australians eat every day will produce exactly 740 grams of carbon dioxide plus 280 grams of water (about one cup) and about 35 grams of urea and other solids excreted as urine.

An average 75kg person’s resting metabolic rate (the rate at which the body uses energy when the person isn’t moving) produces about 590 grams of carbon dioxide per day. No pill or potion you can buy will increase that figure, despite the bold claims you might have heard.

The good news is that you exhale 200 grams of carbon dioxide while you’re fast asleep every night, so you’ve already breathed out a quarter of your daily target before you even step out of bed.

The metabolic fate of an average Australian’s daily intake of food, water and oxygen (Nutrient intake data: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients)

Eat less, exhale more

So if fat turns into carbon dioxide, could simply breathing more make you lose weight? Unfortunately not. Huffing and puffing more than you need to is called hyperventilation and will only make you dizzy, or possibly faint. The only way you can consciously increase the amount of carbon dioxide your body is producing is by moving your muscles.

But here’s some more good news. Simply standing up and getting dressed more than doubles your metabolic rate. In other words, if you simply tried on all your outfits for 24 hours, you’d exhale more than 1,200 grams of carbon dioxide.

More realistically, going for a walk triples your metabolic rate, and so will cooking, vacuuming and sweeping.

Metabolising 100 grams of fat consumes 290 grams of oxygen and produces 280 grams of carbon dioxide plus 110 grams of water. The food you eat can’t change these figures.

Therefore, to lose 100 grams of fat, you have to exhale 280 grams of carbon dioxide on top of what you’ll produce by vaporising all your food, no matter what it is.

Any diet that supplies less “fuel” than you burn will do the trick, but with so many misconceptions about how weight loss works, few of us know why.

Healthy Lunch Ideas to Lose Weight, Easy Healthy Recipes

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Lose Weight, Easy Healthy Recipes

THE WINNING COMBO for fat loss is regular exercise and eating the right food. Although this may not sound too complicated, many guys still struggle to lose weight even the ones who work out regularly.

Everybody looks forward to that time of day when you can take a lunch break. Here we have 5 healthy lunch recipes that will give your body the nutrients it needs to keep going for the rest of the day and leave you feeling great.



Here are 5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss that have plenty of fiber, healthy fat, and protein to help you shed fat

1 white bean salad recipe 330 calories (1 serving)


2 cups mixed salad greens

1/4 chopped cucumbers

5 cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 avocado

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and ground pepper to taste


Combine greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and beans in a medium bowl Drizzle with vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and transfer to a large plate. Enjoy!

2 Chicken with bell pepper and corn stir-fry recipe 300 calories (1 serving)


1 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 pounds chicken breast

one quarter teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

one quarter teaspoon black pepper

1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 medium red bell peppers, chopped

1/2 cups sliced carrots/

1/4 cups chopped red onion/

4 tablespoons water

1/4 cups canned corn

1 cloves garlic, minced

one tsp lime juice

1/4 avocado, diced


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir for 2 minutes and add chicken and Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just cooked through, 5 minutes. Add carrots, bell peppers, water, salt, black pepper and Cook cover until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in corn, ground cumin, cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in lime juice and cook for 1 minute more. Serve the chicken over the corn mixture, topped with avocado.

3 Spinach pasta salad 340 calories (1 serving)


1 cup chopped spinach

5 cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup edamame

2 tablespoons low fat cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

one tablespoon white vinegar

 1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

one eight Teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 cup cooked whole-wheat fusilli

1 cup water


 Cook pasta according to package directions. Whisk vinegar, oil, dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add pasta, spinach, tomatoes, edamame, cheese and onion; stir to combine.

Serve on a large plate and top with cheese.

4 tuna pasta salad 340 calories (1 serving)


1/4 cup whole wheat macaroni pasta

1/3 medium shredded carrot

 5 cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup Kalamata olives

1/2 tsp parsley chopped

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

one clove garlic

1/2 can tuna in water salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions. In large bowl, add shredded, carrot and tomatoes and olives sliced in half, add tuna and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and ground black pepper; add it to the mixture. Toss until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

5 Pasta-e-Faggioli 270 calories (1 serving)


1/4 cup whole grain medium pasta shells

2 oz. instead no-salt-added white beans, rinsed and drained

1 tsp fresh parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cups chopped Onions 40g

 1/8 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped carrot

1 glove garlic

1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1/8 teaspoon red chili pepper

4 oz. reduced-sodium chicken broth

3, 5 oz. no-salt-added diced tomato sauce, undrained

1 tsp shredded Parmesan cheese


 In a Small Stock Pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrot, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in oregano, and chili pepper.

Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, and pasta shells. Reduce heat. Simmer, and cover, about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.

If water is all absorbed before the pasta is cooked, you may need to add more hot water.

Add beans into pasta mixture. Simmer about 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir in parsley. Immediately ladle into serving bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan and enjoy.


Tips to Help You to Lose Weight Effectively

Many people struggle when it comes to weight loss, and it is no easy feat to achieve. For those that are very overweight, there can be all sorts of problems including serious health issues, self esteem issues, and more.

Fortunately, there are various tips that can help you when it comes to losing weight efficiently and this is something that can transform your health and your life in general.

There are plenty of options you can choose from when it comes to the food you eat including specialist diets such as the Banting meal plan, which focuses on consuming high fat low carbohydrate foods.

You need to take your tastes and any special dietary requirements into consideration when you are choosing the right meal plan for you, as this will ensure you can enjoy foods that suit your dietary needs.

Other Tips to Help You

There are various other tips that can help you when it comes to losing weight successfully. One of the things you can do is look at using natural appetite suppressants, which can help to reduce the chances of snacking or overloading your plate at meal times.

You should make sure you check that the supplements you buy are natural and that they do not contain any ingredients that you may be sensitive to.

Another thing you can do is plan your meals in advance and then freeze them. This makes it far easier to stick to a diet plan and means that you won’t be spending time wondering what to prepare.

You will also know exactly what has gone into your meals because you will be cooking them yourself. It also means that after a hard day at work, you can simple warm through your pre-cooked frozen meals, which means that you get toe save yourself time and inconvenience.

Using modern technology to help you with weight loss is also a good idea, as this is something that can really help you. There are various tools that you can use in order to do this including weight loss apps and even fitness apps, which can be easily downloaded and are often free of charge.

There are many different apps that you can choose from so you should have no problem finding ones that can help you with various aspects of your weight loss.

It is important to also think about your physical activity and fitness levels when it comes to losing weight, as this is something that can make a big difference to your results.

Doing some regular exercise several times a week can help you to shed the pounds and tone up. You don’t have to worry about costly gym memberships either, as you can simply go for regular runs and listen to your favorite music.

All of these tips can help you to lose weight more easily and more effectively. You can then look forward to better health as well as a better quality of life.

The Smart and Healthy way to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

lose weight

Yo-Yo dieting, also known as weight cycling, is the cyclical dramatic loss and gain of weight in a short period of time. Of course, we’ve all been there; it usually goes something like this: a significant event is marked on the calendar. The pressure to look thin and fit is on. There is hardly any time to get in shape. For fear of looking and feeling fat, you start a crash diet. Sound familiar? With New Year Resolutions just around the corner, here’s how you can lose the weight and keep it off. For real this time.

Slow and Steady

Slow and Steady

Ultimately, we live in an instantaneous culture. So why shouldn’t we be able to lose weight fast too? Crash dieting may be tempting. Anyone who has tried a crash diet knows that they do work; even if the weight eventually comes back. However, new studies have proven to show that gaining back the weight and then some isn’t the only negative to crash dieting. The phrase, ‘slow and steady wins the race’ is more than just a line from a silly children’s book; it could potentially save your life.


Yo-yo Diet

Recently, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which aimed to investigate the harmful, long-term effects yo-yo dieting had. The participants were made up of 9,509 men and women between the ages of 35 and 75. The individuals had all been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and high cholesterol. Each participant was prescribed different dosages of cholesterol medicine throughout the study.

The Study

blood tests

For five years, researchers tracked the weight fluctuations of the participants in the study. For six months, every six weeks, their weight was tracked and monitored for any variations. During this time, the weight changes were associated with increased cardiovascular problems. Obese participants were particularly prone to these increased cardiovascular issues. Unfortunately, the study was unable to determine why these people were losing and gaining weight. Were they intentionally losing weight? Unintentionally losing weight as a result of an illness? Though, what matters is that their findings proved dramatic weight fluctuations in a short period of time have adverse effects on long-term health.


Yo-yo Diet

Crash diets or fad diets often come with absurd instructions on what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat. Moreover, many of these fad diets are loosely backed by cherry-picked scientific studies. A study conducted by the American Cancer Society looked at the link between rapid weight loss and gain and strokes. In their research, they found that participants who intentionally lost weight in a short period of time were more likely to die from stroke. The conclusion was based on the ensuing five years of the study. Individuals who already possess an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke should be mindful of the harmful, long-term effects of yo-yo dieting.




Yo-yo diets increase the risk of diabetes, especially in those who are obese. The fluctuation in blood sugar levels creates insulin resistance in the body. Yo-Yo dieting has little effect on individuals with Type-1 diabetes. However, the study showed an increase in Type-2 diabetes diagnosis. The best way for those to avoid developing Type-2 diabetes is to avoid crash diets, fad diets, or any form of starvation. To lose weight, exercise daily, eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

Heart Attack

Heart Attack

Weight loss or weight gain can be beneficial to your heart health. However, dramatic weight loss or weight gain in a short period of time can be harmful to your health. This is especially true for postmenopausal women.  Weight cycling results in damaging changes to your metabolism, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure levels. The changes in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart attack. Especially for those who are already at an increased risk for coronary artery disease. This disease hardens the arteries over time, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Women who are experiencing postmenopausal weight changes should choose a lifestyle change rather than a quick-fix diet.


As tempting as quick-fixes may seem, they’re only temporary solutions that result in negative, long-term effects. The fad diets and crash diets of your youth are just that–a fad. These types of weight loss plans are not a sustainable way to live. For one thing, crash diets leave you tired, lazy, and painfully hungry. Your body needs nourishment to run efficiently and effectively. For this reason, denying your body of nourishment is cruel, harmful, and potentially fatal. If you are overweight or obese, crash dieting can put you at a higher risk for disease and stroke. Anything worth the effort is worth the wait. Instead of viewing weight loss as a temporary solution, look at it as a permanent lifestyle change. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and non-processed foods can assist in healthy weight loss. A healthy diet should always be accompanied with daily exercise. Choose your health before you choose a trend.

Here’s The Most Effective Way to Lose Weight With Minimal Effort, According to Science

You don’t need to slave away on the treadmill.

So you want to lose a few kilograms. You’ve heard the mantra: “Eat right. Work out.”

But when it comes down to it, which one of those things will make a bigger difference in helping you achieve your weight loss goals? Is it really better to hit the gym four times this week or to order a salad instead of chips at lunch?

We asked Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas, whether diet or fitness was more important for weight loss, and his answer surprised us.

“Studies tend to show that in terms of weight loss, diet plays a much bigger role than exercise,” said Stanforth.

Here’s why: Exercise requires time and consistent effort, and it takes longer to see its results, said Stanforth. It also burns far fewer calories (and takes far more time) than most people think.

Alternatively, there are several high-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie foods that we can cut from our diets to see a pretty big change in our waistline, sometimes in a fairly short time period. Stanforth puts it this way:

“You’d have to walk 35 miles (56 kilometres) to burn 3,500 calories. That’s a lot of walking. But if you look at eating, a Snickers bar might have, say, 500 calories. It’s going to be a lot easier to cut the Snickers bar than to do 5 miles (8 kilometres) of walking every day.”

(A single Snickers bar is about 220 calories, while a Snickers ‘2-to-go’ is 440.)

Several studies back up Stanforth’s suggestion.

One large review of 20 studies involving more than 3,000 people published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 found that high-protein diets and meal replacements (low-calorie substitutes for heavier meals) were linked with better outcomes in terms of helping people keep weight off after a reduced-calorie diet period when compared with exercise.

And a 2011 review looking at the relationship between fat mass and physical activity in kids concluded that being active is likely not the key determinant in unhealthy weight in children.

Still, exercise may come into play later on. Other studies, for example, suggest that people who lose weight and keep it off eat right and work out regularly.

Plus, exercise has other benefits, from helping to boost our mood and protect our bodies from the detrimental effects of ageing to helping us manage the symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety. And building and maintaining muscle can often mean your body will actually burn more calories throughout the day.

So if you want to lose weight in 2018, consider adjusting your diet. And if you want to keep it off, get moving.

Eating lots of cheese may help you lose weight

Forget what you have heard about cheese – we have Gouda news for you.

Eating cheese does not raise your cholesterol and could actually help you lose weight, scientists have found.

Research from Ireland found people who eat a lot of cheese do not have a higher cholesterol than those who don’t.

They also discovered that people who eat more dairy tend to have a lower body mass index.

But current health guidelines suggest eating foods high in saturated fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol.

Evidence strongly suggests that high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and angina.

It is often caused by an unhealthy diet or having a family history of stroke or heart disease.

For the study, 1,500 Irish adults kept a four-day food diary and were asked to note how much dairy they ate.

Their blood samples were then analysed for cholesterol levels and other metabolic health problems.They found that the adults with a lower body mass index ate more dairy.

However, lower blood pressure was associated with eating cheese more than other products like yogurt and milk.

They found that while adults who ate large amounts of cheese consumed more saturated fat, they did not have the associated higher cholesterol.

Dr. Emma Feeney, Food for Health Ireland’s program manager, said: “Simply looking at individual foods does not reflect the real story.

“What will really impact on our metabolic health, is the overall pattern in which whole foods are consumed.”


To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More

People working out on Manhattan’s Lower East Side last week. Exercise is beneficial for numerous reasons, but it’s not the best way to lose weight, many studies have shown. 

One of my family’s favorite shows is “The Biggest Loser.” Although some viewers don’t appreciate how it pushes people so hard to lose weight, the show probably inspires some overweight people to regain control of their lives.

But one of the most frustrating parts of the show, at least for me, is its overwhelming emphasis on exercise. Because when it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don’t eat is much, much more important.

Think about it this way: If an overweight man is consuming 1,000 more calories than he is burning and wants to be in energy balance, he can do it by exercising. But exercise consumes far fewer calories than many people think. Thirty minutes of jogging or swimming laps might burn off 350 calories. Many people, fat or fit, can’t keep up a strenuous 30-minute exercise regimen, day in and day out. They might exercise a few times a week, if that.

Or they could achieve the same calorie reduction by eliminating two 16-ounce sodas each day.

Proclamations that people need to be more active are ubiquitous in the media. The importance of exercise for proper weight management is reinforced when people bemoan the loss of gym class in schools as a cause of the obesity epidemic. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program places the focus on exercise as a critical component in combating excess weight and obesity.

Exercise has many benefits, but there are problems with relying on it to control weight. First, it’s just not true that Americans, in general, aren’t listening to calls for more activity. From 2001 to 2009, the percentage of people who were sufficiently physically active increased. But so did the percentage of Americans who were obese. The former did not prevent the latter.

Studies confirm this finding. A 2011 meta-analysis, a study of studies, looked at the relationship between physical activity and fat mass in children, and found that being active is probably not the key determinant in whether a child is at an unhealthy weight. In the adult population, interventional studies have difficulty showing that a physically active person is less likely to gain excess weight than a sedentary person. Further, studies of energy balance, and there are many of them, show that total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing and industrialized countries are similar, making activity and exercise unlikely to be the cause of differing obesity rates.

Moreover, exercise increases one’s appetite. After all, when you burn off calories being active, your body will often signal you to replace them. Research confirms this. A 2012 systematic review of studies that looked at how people complied with exercise programs showed that over time, people wound up burning less energy with exercise than predicted and also increasing their caloric intake.

Other metabolic changes can negate the expected weight loss benefits of exercise over the long term. When you lose weight, metabolism often slows. Many people believe that exercise can counter or even reverse that trend. Research, however, shows that the resting metabolic rate in all dieters slows significantly, regardless of whether they exercise. This is why weight loss, which might seem easy when you start, becomes harder over time.

This isn’t to say that exercise plays no role. There are many studies that show that adding exercise to diets can be beneficial. A 1999 review identified three key meta-analyses and other randomized controlled trials that found statistically significant, but overall small, increases in weight loss with exercise.

A meta-analysis published last year found that, in the long term, behavioral weight management programs that combine exercise with diet can lead to more sustained weight loss (three to four pounds) over a year than diet alone. Over a six-month period, though, adding exercise made no difference. Another systematic review from last fall found similar results, with diet plus exercise performing better than diet alone, but without much of an absolute difference.

All of these interventions included dietary changes, and the added weight-loss benefit from activity was small. Far too many people, though, can manage to find an hour or more in their day to drive to the gym, exercise and then clean up afterward — but complain that there’s just no time to cook or prepare a healthful, home-cooked meal. If they would spend just half the time they do exercising trying to make a difference in the kitchen, they’d most likely see much better results.

Many people think of dieting as a drastic and rigid change, with a high risk of putting the pounds back on. What is more likely to succeed is gradual change, made in a much more sustainable way. I also don’t mean to make it seem that weight loss with diet is easy and exercise is hard. They’re both hard. The challenge of a slowing metabolism, and the desire to eat more, occurs in both cases, although dietary change still works better than exercise.

But I can’t say this enough: Exercise has a big upside for health beyond potential weight loss. Many studies and reviews detail how physical activity can improve outcomes in musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, neurological diseases and depression. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges declared it a “miracle cure” recently, and while I’m usually loath to use that term for anything in medicine, a fairly large evidence base corroborates that exercise improves outcomes in many domains.

But that huge upside doesn’t seem to necessarily apply to weight loss. The data just don’t support it. Unfortunately, exercise seems to excite us much more than eating less does. After all, as a friend said to me recently, “The Biggest Loser” would be really boring if it were shot after shot of contestants just not overeating.

15 common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight

Losing weight can seem very tough. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything right, yet still not getting results.

You may actually be hindering your progress by following misguided or outdated advice.

Here are 15 common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.

1. Only focusing on the scale weight 


It’s very common to feel like you’re not losing weight fast enough, despite faithfully sticking to your diet. However, the number on the scale is only one measure of weight change. Weight is influenced by several things, including fluid fluctuations and how much food remains in your system.

In fact, weight can fluctuate by up to 4 lbs (1.8 kg) over the course of a day, depending on how much food and liquid you’ve consumed.

Also, increased estrogen levels and other hormonal changes in women can lead to greater water retention, which is reflected in scale weight (1).

If the number on the scale isn’t moving, you may very well be losing fat mass but holding on to water. Fortunately, you can do several things to lose water weight.

If you’ve been working out, you may be gaining muscle and losing fat. When this happens, your clothes may start to feel looser — especially around the waist — despite a stable scale weight.

Measuring your waist with a tape measure and taking monthly pictures of yourself can reveal you’re actually losing fat, even if the scale number doesn’t change much.

Bottom Line: Many factors can affect scale weight, including fluid fluctuations, muscle mass gain and the weight of undigested food. You may be losing body fat even if the scale reading doesn’t change much.

2. Eating too many or too few calories


A calorie deficit is required for weight loss. This means you need to burn more calories than you consume.

For many years, it was believed that a decrease of 3,500 calories per week would result in 1 lb (.45 kg) of fat loss. However, recent research shows the calorie deficit needed varies from person to person (2).

You may feel as though you’re not eating very many calories. But in fact, most of us have a tendency to underestimate and under report what we eat (3, 4).

In a two-week study, 10 obese people reported consuming 1,000 calories per day. Lab testing showed they were actually taking in about 2,000 calories per day (4).

You may be consuming too many foods that are healthy but also high in calories, such as nuts and cheese. Watching portion sizes is key.

On the other hand, decreasing your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive.

Studies on very low-calorie diets providing less than 1,000 calories per day show they can lead to muscle loss and significantly slow down metabolism (5, 6, 7).

Bottom Line: Consuming too many calories can stop you from losing weight. On the other hand, too few calories can make you ravenously hungry and reduce your metabolism and muscle mass.

3. Not exercising or exercising too much


During weight loss, you inevitably lose some muscle mass as well as fat, although the amount depends on several factors (8). If you don’t exercise at all while restricting calories, you’re likely to lose more muscle mass and experience a decrease in metabolic rate.

By contrast, exercising helps minimize the amount of lean mass you lose, boost fat loss and prevent your metabolism from slowing down. The more lean mass you have, the easier it is to lose weight and maintain the weight loss (9, 10, 11).

Over-exercising can also cause problems.

Studies show excessive exercise is unsustainable in the long term for most people and may lead to stress. In addition, it may impair the production of adrenal hormones that regulate stress response (12, 13, 14).

Trying to force your body to burn more calories by exercising too much is neither effective nor healthy.

Lifting weights and doing cardio several times per week is a sustainable strategy for maintaining metabolic rate during weight loss.

Bottom Line: A lack of exercise can lead to loss of muscle mass and lower metabolism. On the other hand, too much exercise is neither healthy nor effective, and it may lead to severe stress.

4. Not lifting weights


Performing resistance training is incredibly important during weight loss.

Studies show lifting weights is one of the most effective exercise strategies for gaining muscle and increasing metabolic rate. It also improves overall body composition and boosts belly fat loss (15, 16, 17, 18).

In fact, a review of 15 studies with more than 700 people found the best strategy of all for weight loss appears to be combined aerobic exercise and weightlifting (18).

Bottom Line: Weightlifting or resistance training can help boost metabolic rate, increase muscle mass and promote fat loss, including belly fat.

5. Choosing low-fat or “diet” foods 

Processed low-fat or “diet” foods are often considered good choices for losing weight, but they may actually have the opposite effect.

Many of these products are loaded with sugar to improve their taste.

For instance, one cup (245 grams) of low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt can contain a whopping 47 grams of sugar (nearly 12 teaspoons) (19).

Rather than keep you full, low-fat products are likely to make you hungrier, so you end up eating even more.

Instead of low-fat or “diet” foods, choose a combination of nutritious, minimally processed foods.

Bottom Line: Fat-free or “diet” foods are typically high in sugar and may lead to hunger and higher calorie intake.

6. Overestimating how many calories you burn during exercise

Mark Cavendish of Great Britain competes in the Cycling Track Men’s Omnium Points Race

Many people believe that exercise “supercharges” their metabolism.

Although exercise increases metabolic rate somewhat, it may actually be less than you think.

Studies show both normal and overweight people tend to overestimate the number of calories they burn during exercise, often by a significant amount (4, 20, 21).

In one study, people burned 200 and 300 calories during exercise sessions. Yet when asked, they estimated they had burned over 800 calories. As a result, they ended up eating more (21).

That being said, exercise is still crucial for overall health and can help you lose weight. It’s just not as effective at burning calories as some people think.

Bottom Line: Studies show people tend to overestimate the number of calories they burn during exercise.

7. Not eating enough protein


Getting enough protein is extremely important if you’re trying to lose weight. Protein has been shown to help with weight loss in several ways.

It can reduce appetite, increase feelings of fullness, decrease calorie intake, increase metabolic rate and protect muscle mass during weight loss (22, 23, 24, 25, 26).

In a 12-day study, people ate a diet containing 30% of calories from protein. They ended up consuming an average of 575 fewer calories per day than when they ate 15% of calories from protein (27).

A review also found that higher-protein diets, containing 0.6–0.8 grams of protein per lb (1.2–1.6 g/kg), may benefit appetite control and body composition (28).

To optimize weight loss, make sure each of your meals contains a high-protein food.

Bottom Line: High protein intake helps with weight loss by reducing appetite, increasing feelings of fullness and boosting metabolic rate.

8. Not eating enough fiber


A low-fiber diet may be compromising your weight loss efforts.

Studies show a type of soluble fiber known as viscous fiber helps reduce appetite by forming a gel that holds water.

This gel moves slowly through your digestive tract, making you feel full.

Research suggests all types of fiber benefit weight loss. However, a review of several studies found viscous fiber reduced appetite and calorie intake much more than other types (29, 30).

When total fiber intake is high, some of the calories from foods in mixed meals aren’t absorbed. Researchers estimate that doubling daily fiber intake could result in up to 130 fewer calories being absorbed (31).

Bottom Line: Eating enough fiber can help reduce appetite by filling you up so you eat less. It may also help you absorb fewer calories from other foods.

9. Eating too much fat on a low-carb diet 


Ketogenic and low-carb diets can be very effective for weight loss. Studies show they tend to reduce appetite, which often leads to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake (32, 33, 34, 35).

Many low-carb and ketogenic diets allow unlimited amounts of fat, assuming that the resulting appetite suppression will keep calories low enough for weight loss.

However, some people may not experience a strong enough signal to stop eating. As a result, they may be consume too many calories to achieve a calorie deficit.

If you’re adding large amounts of fat to your food or beverages and are not losing weight, you may want to cut back on the fat.

Bottom Line: Although low-carb and ketogenic diets help reduce hunger and calorie intake, adding too much fat may slow down or prevent weight loss.

10. Eating too often, even if you’re not hungry 

For many years, the conventional advice has been to eat every few hours in order to prevent hunger and a drop in metabolism. Unfortunately, this can lead to too many calories being consumed over the course of the day. You may also never truly feel full.

In one study, blood sugar levels and hunger decreased while metabolic rate and feelings of fullness increased in men who consumed 3 meals versus 14 meals within a 36-hour time frame (36).

The recommendation to eat breakfast every morning, regardless of appetite, also appears to be misguided (37, 38). One study found when people skipped breakfast, they took in more calories at lunch than when they’d eaten a morning meal. However, they consumed an average of 408 fewer calories for the day overall (38).

Eating when you’re hungry and only when you’re hungry seems to be key to successful weight loss.

However, letting yourself get too hungry is also a bad idea. It is better to eat a snack than become ravenously hungry, which can cause you to make poor food decisions.

Bottom Line: Eating too often can hurt your weight loss efforts. For the best results, it’s important to eat only when you’re hungry.

11. Having unrealistic expectations

Jonny (left) and Alistair Brownlee running in the triathlon in Rio yesterday

Having weight loss and other health-related goals can help keep you motivated. But having unrealistic expectations can actually work against you.

Researchers analyzed data from several weight loss center programs. They reported overweight and obese women who expected to lose the most weight were the most likely to drop out of a program after 6 to 12 months (39).

Adjust your expectations to a more realistic and modest goal, such as a 10% drop in weight in one year. This can help prevent you from getting discouraged and improve your chances for success.

Bottom Line: Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and giving up altogether. Make your goals more modest to increase your chances of successful weight loss.

12. Not tracking what you eat in any way 


Eating nutritious foods is a good weight loss strategy. However, you may still be eating more calories than you need to lose weight.

What’s more, you may not be getting the right amount of protein, fiber, carbs and fat to support your weight loss efforts.

Studies show that tracking what you eat can help you get an accurate picture of your calorie and nutrient consumption, as well as provide accountability (40, 41).

In addition to food, most online tracking sites and apps allow you to enter your daily exercise as well. Here is a review of several popular calorie tracking tools.

Bottom Line: If you’re not tracking what you eat, you may be consuming more calories than you realize. You may also be getting less protein and fiber than you think.

13. Still drinking sugar


Many people cut soft drinks and other sweetened beverages out of their diet to lose weight, which is a good thing. However, drinking fruit juice instead isn’t smart.

Even 100% fruit juice is loaded with sugar and may lead to health and weight problems similar to those caused by sugar-sweetened beverages (42).

For instance, 12 ounces (320 grams) of unsweetened apple juice contain 36 grams of sugar. That’s even more than in 12 ounces of cola (43, 44).

What’s more, liquid calories don’t seem to affect the appetite centers in your brain the same way calories from solid foods do.

Studies show that you end up consuming more calories overall, instead of compensating for the liquid calories by eating less later in the day (45, 46).

Bottom Line: If you cut out sugar-sweetened beverages but continue drinking fruit juice, you’re still getting a lot of sugar and are likely to take in more calories overall.

14. Not reading labels

Failing to accurately read label information can cause you to consume unwanted calories and unhealthy ingredients.

Unfortunately, many foods are labeled with healthy-sounding food claims on the front of the package. These may give you a false sense of security about choosing a certain item (47, 48).

To get to the most important information for weight control, you need to look at the ingredients list and nutrition facts label, which are on the back of the container.

You can find out more about how to read food labels in this article.

Bottom Line: Food labels provide information on ingredients, calories and nutrients. Make sure you understand how to accurately read labels.

15. Not eating whole, single-ingredient foods 

One of the worst things you can do for weight loss is to eat a lot of highly processed foods.

Animal and human studies suggest that processed foods may be a major factor in the current epidemic of obesity and other health problems (49, 50).

Some researchers believe this could be due to their negative effects on gut health and inflammation (51). Whole foods tend to be self-limiting, meaning they are hard to overconsume. By contrast, it’s very easy to overeat processed foods.

When possible, choose whole, single-ingredient foods that are minimally processed.

Can’t Lose Weight? You May Have Some Carb Intolerance

If you made yet another resolution to lose weight in the New Year, you’re certainly not alone. It is estimated that only 8 percent of those who make resolutions actually keep them, and weight loss can be particularly challenging.

One thing to consider if you have tried to eat healthily and have actually made time to exercise this year and still aren’t losing weight is how your body tolerates carbohydrates.

Most of us have heard of people being lactose or gluten-intolerant, but your body can be intolerant of other carbs, as well. In this case eating even small amounts of certain carbs can cause bloating, fatigue, abdominal cramps, and poor digestion, leading to heartburn. What we don’t know as much about is whether this also affects insulin levels differently and may prevent shedding that weight.

It is really easy to eat too many carbohydrates, and doing so is bound to raise insulin levels to promote fat storage. To counteract this, some diets call for cutting out all carbs and eating only proteins, while others suggest limiting “total carbs” to only a few grams per day. Newer renditions of this low-carb lifestyle include eating an optimal amount of protein and filling the rest of the diet with some healthy fats to teach the body to burn more fat.

But the fact is carbs do not all fall into one category. There are many types of carbohydrates, which are broken down by various enzymes in different parts of the digestive system. Depending on the type of carb—whether a sugar, a starch, or fiber—it will be processed by different enzymes in the saliva, pancreas, or small intestine.

Thinking about the different categories of carbohydrates and their varying nutrient density can be helpful in making healthy choices. Eating complex carbohydrates like beans or including dairy in the diet contributes many nutrients, likely making consuming that carb a good strategy. Eating white pasta, white bread, or empty-calorie snack bars, however, is not likely worth the calories or insulin load. Why consume or overconsume the carbs that are flaring your insulin without much advantage to your health?

Before starting any diet or physical activity program, it is best to visit your doctor for a comprehensive physical. There are tests and measurements that your doctor can perform that will immediately indicate if you are at risk for some insulin resistance or carb intolerance.

For example, metabolic syndrome is a diagnosis that might indicate some carb intolerance. Metabolic syndrome is defined by having three or more of the following:

  • Waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women (40 inches for men)
  • Blood pressure reading for either number that is greater than 130/85
  • Low HDL (high-density li­poprotein, “good” cholesterol)—less than 40
  • Fasting blood glucose of more than 100
  • Triglyceride levels above 150

Even with that information, however, pinpointing your tolerance of carbs may take some work on your part. If you often seem bloated or distended or find it nearly impossible to lose weight, no matter how hard you try, the following tips can help identify the potential of carb intolerance.

Keep a food and workout journal. Be keenly aware of what you are eating by writing it down and looking closely at the ingredients. If a food you are eating has you feeling bloated or lacking energy, recognize it and find a more compatible substitute. The journal will also allow you to track whether you are getting enough exercise to balance your food habits.

Eat fewer carbs, but don’t ban them completely. An initial approach might be to ensure that your portions of carb foods—including healthy dairy, fruit, and grains— are reasonable. If you feel better as you move carbs out of your diet, it might help you to think about your tolerance level. Each person has a different metabolism, and a low-carbohydrate diet works very well for some people. It is important to note, however, that a low-carb diet does not mean eating only protein. Consuming healthy fats and remembering to include a lot of vegetables is important for antioxidant and fiber health.

Be less refined. Avoid refined and processed sugars that are added to things like sodas, fruit drinks, and desserts, and learn to decipher food labels. Foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and even raw sugar should be eaten only sparingly. Instead stick to foods with more complex carbohydrates, like nuts, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables. Again, let nutrient-dense foods rule.

Eat more often, not less often. Many of us think that the key to losing weight is to avoid eating food, but some people respond well to eating more frequently, just in smaller quantities. I tell my patients to eat four to six small meals per day to regulate their blood sugar and keep their appetite under control. Anyone who has dieted knows that cravings are powerful things; avoid them by eating good foods often. Including a little protein and fat in each meal is important.

If you’re resolved to lose weight, you may want to start with a trip to the doctor instead of a membership at the gym. Together the two of you can get a better handle on how carbs might affect your body and come up with a plan that is more likely to still be working this time next year. A registered dietitian can be a great teammate to help you consider a diet plan that works for you over the long haul.

Lose Weight by Eating More? The Surprising Truth About Reverse Dieting

Eating more could be the secret to repairing slow metabolism — if you do it right.
Eating more could be the secret to repairing slow metabolism — if you do it right.

“Eat more, lose weight” sounds like an impossible promise. After all, one of the main rules of weight loss is “calories in, calories out” — the idea that if you eat more than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.

But for some people, eating more may actually be the key to maintaining a lean physique. It’s especially effective for people who are coming off of restrictive diets or who have been yo-yo dieting for years.

The method, known as “reverse dieting,” involves gradually increasing calories in very small stages. After a restrictive diet, it allows you to get up to a normal, more sustainable calorie level without adding on pounds.

The trend is taking off in the fitness community and spreading into nutrition and weight-loss circles as well.

How Your Metabolism Works Against You

Fitness competitors often follow ultra-restrictive diets as they get ready to bare their bods on stage. But after their competitions are over, many of those ultra-fit men and women struggle to maintain their lean physiques. Restrictive regimens cause the metabolism to slow; the body adapts to become more efficient and burn fewer calories.

Bodybuilders often follow strict diets to get super-lean — only to gain weight quickly when the diet is over.
Bodybuilders often follow strict diets to get super-lean — only to gain weight quickly when the diet is over. 

The body is wired this way. Our ancestors adapted to make the most of their caloric fuel, just in case there was suddenly a food shortage and they had to function on less.

In 2016, the landscape has obviously changed quite a bit. With food in abundance, when a fitness competitor stops dieting and starts eating again, his metabolism isn’t burning calories as quickly. That fuel gets stored as fat.

Reverse dieting hacks into our caveman biology in order to limit this post-dieting metabolic slowdown.

With a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in nutritional science, bodybuilding and physique coachLayne Norton is one of the trend’s leading experts. Years ago, Norton noticed a quirk among his clients. “Those with a more extensive history of dieting had a harder time losing weight and keeping it off,” he explains.

“Research shows that six out of seven people can successfully lose 10 percent of their weight,” Norton says, “but the relapse rate is around 95 percent, with many putting on more weight than they originally had to begin with.”

He found that a slow transition out of dieting and into maintenance mode seemed to be a better method for keeping weight stable.

Stop yo-yo dieting to reach — and maintain — a healthy weight.
Stop yo-yo dieting to reach — and maintain — a healthy weight. 

How Reverse Dieting Works

In a reverse diet, you slowly increase your calorie intake back up to a normal maintenance level, while keeping protein intake relatively constant. Although Norton says everyone responds a little differently, he noticed that bringing calorie intake up slowly generally allowed for a better response.

Most of Norton’s clients could maintain fat loss while eating a satisfying number of calories per day. “Eating very lean takes a lot out of you,” he explains. “Women lose menstruation, men lose testosterone. So we add more calories. Most of them don’t want to be a cover model, they just want to maintain their weight.”

The reverse diet is a pretty slow process. A lot of dieters get into trouble by immediately wanting to ramp calories back up to “normal” after a prolonged period of low intake. There are no specific foods involved in a reverse diet. But among Norton’s figure competitors, protein has generally been sufficient while dieting, so Norton says he focuses on the carbs and fats his clients have usually been cutting.

In a reverse diet, increase your calories by one to five percent per week — about eight or nine almonds a day.
In a reverse diet, increase your calories by one to five percent per week — about eight or nine almonds a day. 

You generally add only one to five percent more calories to your diet per week. If you’ve been on a 1,200-calorie diet, that means adding an extra 60 calories per day at most — just a little nudge upward at a time. “By the end of the diet, we usually add 20 to 40 percent more calories, depending on how aggressive they want to be,” Norton says.

“If someone is putting on a bunch of weight, we slow down,” he explains. “But we want to get people to a level of calories they feel comfortable with and they can maintain.” Although some like to eat more, for most people, this number hovers around 2,000 calories a day. Norton says this intake level typically allows for “the flexibility to still be consistent.”

Who Should Try It?

A reverse diet won’t fix unhealthy eating habits and frequent indulgences. It’s not for someone who needs to lose weight, but rather for someone who needs to restore metabolism back to proper function after a prolonged, restricted low-calorie diet. It’s for a person who enjoys working out and eating well, but wants to have some options and flexibility.

Reverse dieting is best for people who have followed very strict diets for a long time.
Reverse dieting is best for people who have followed very strict diets for a long time. 

For those with a history of yo-yo dieting, this can be a great fix for a wonky metabolism, says health and lifestyle coach Sheila Viers, who went on a reverse diet herself from April 2015 to January 2016.

Coaching women, she wanted to try a better way of maintaining weight — one that involved more than crazy workout regimens and 1,200 calories a day. “A lot of women have come down that yo-yo dieting road,” Viers explains. “I had. I wondered, ‘What if I could max my metabolism, eat large volumes of food and maintain leanness?’”

The results: “My energy level in the gym increased a ton. I was getting stronger and tightening up my muscles. I felt really good,” Viers says.

Viers was eating about 1,350 calories per day when she began, which she slowly increased to a maintenance level of 2,600 calories per day. She gained about 10 pounds, which she says was totally fine since she added lean muscle.

If she ever felt concerned, she reminded herself of the bigger picture. “I just had to remember the freedom and flexibility I was gaining through the process,” she says.