HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the placenta after implantation, and doctors sometimes prescribe it for fertility issues. But this hormone has also gained popularity as a weight-loss supplement — and using it as such can be dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against purchasing over-the-counter hCG, as these supplement products are illegal. (34)


Sugar contains calories but nothing else, and "empty calories" are the last thing you want on a diet, says Stephanie Karpinske, MBA, M.S., R.D. Sugar is also digested quickly so you're hungry soon after you eat it. It raises insulin levels, which promotes fat storage. Plus, it can be addictive because it raises levels of serotonin -- the feel-good chemical in the brain that helps us relax during times of stress. That's one reason why weaning yourself off sugar is so difficult.
This high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb fad diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body uses stored fat for energy. Research published in Clinical Cardiology suggests the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet can be an effective weight loss method, but to be successful, you must follow the plan consistently with no cheat days — otherwise, you’re just eating a high-fat diet that may be high in unhealthy fats for no reason. (1) (A pro tip? If you're planning on doing the diet, consider perusing this complete keto food list and reading up on the healthiest fats for keto diet followers.)
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.
A heavy-handed pour will negate any of the health benefits you get from sipping a glass of wine. One serving of wine racks up 125 calories, and many of today's fishbowl-sized glasses hold three servings. (For the math-challenged, that's 375 calories—the size of a small meal.) Here, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD demonstrates how to pour the perfect serving of wine.
Think of finding the right diet as akin to going on a long road trip. The more tools and guidance you have on your journey, the smoother your trip will be. Losing weight is a journey, not a destination, and along the way you'll learn a lot about yourself. Everyone wants to get there now, but what you'll discover along the way can ultimately be more fulfilling, rewarding, and even enjoyable. Finding the right weight-loss plan takes work and investment, and I hope I've helped simplify the process somewhat.

Breakfast while scanning your smartphone. Lunch at your desk. Dinner in front of the TV. You'd be amazed at how many additional calories you consume when you're distracted, according to research from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab. Watching TV or responding to emails pulls your attention away from how much you're eating, and makes you less likely to notice your body's signals that you're full.
You might feel silly, but it works. When Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.
I’m in favor of any program that promotes whole foods over hyper-processed fare, and this is one thing the popular diet plans can agree on. Overly processed foods have been linked to weight gain, perhaps because many unhealthy packaged foods (think: potato chips, ice cream, frozen pizza, cookies and the like) lack the fiber found in many whole foods, including vegetables. Fiber helps fill us up, and research suggests that by simply adding more fiber to your menu, you can lose weight nearly as well as a more complicated approach. Consistently choosing whole foods is one way to do this.
If your favorite foods fall into the list of forbidden fruit, you’re even more likely to fall off the wagon. Giancoli gives the example of diets that cut out coffee: “It’s ridiculous. There’s a lot of research that coffee is fine. Coffee’s been redeemed.” The Mayo Clinic goes even further, saying: “Caffeine may slightly boost weight loss or prevent weight gain.”
You know all those high-calorie, sugar-laden recipe videos that litter your Facebook newsfeed? Fast-paced hands arranging layers of cookie dough, peanut butter cups, and chocolate brownie batter that come together to make a mouthwatering, decadent dessert that’s also ridiculously fattening. “The internet and social media sites are basically making you fat,” Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, and founder of The WellNecessities, told us for our article on The 30 Worst Flat Belly Mistakes Women Make. “If it isn’t 25 ways to eat tater tots then it’s [another] national [something] day. The internet has made it basically impossible to stay away from cravings and indulgences. These are not excuses to eat unhealthy food.” Next time you see one of these videos, scroll quickly past. Or better yet, unfollow the page completely, and follow Eat This, Not That! on Facebook for healthier videos and more slimming tips.
There are several ways to drop a few pounds, but one thing's for sure: Exercise helps you lose the weight and keep it off. Carving out enough time for aerobic exercise and strength and flexibility training (including yoga and/or pilates) will help you increase lean muscle mass and get fit. Aim for five days a week of moderate to intense exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. To lose weight, make sure two to three of those workouts include strength training.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
You can see the pumpkin pie your coworker baked sitting on the giveaway table across the office. But according to research from St. Bonaventure University in Upstate New York, you won't get up and cut yourself a slice if you have a healthy snack right in front of you. Their study, published in the journal Appetite, revealed that even when people want to snack on something sinful, they'll go for whichever nosh is closest to them.
"What I don't like about any commercial diet is that the focus is not on your actual food choices," Hogan said. "It's about calories or points or numbers, and that really takes away from your ability to be in tune with your hunger cues and your fullness cues and what you're really craving. If we become more in tune with those things, we naturally consume how much the body needs. Paying too much attention to numbers takes away from that."
At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.
Sleeping for more than five hours a night might seem like a luxury for some, but it can have a serious impact on your overall health. Not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of shut-eye a night puts you at risk for fatigue the next day, which means you’re more likely to crave and snack on high-calorie comfort food. Try to go to bed sooner so you can get a little more sleep, which will help you eat less. And to blast fat even faster, don’t miss these essential 55 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
"While you should avoid trans fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you and should be incorporated into your diet," he explained. For trans fats, look for the words "partially hydrogenated" on food labels. Monounsaturated fats include foods like avocados and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats can be found in nuts and seeds.
“That first day was so tough, I almost caved and reached for the vending machine at work but I remembered a quote I had on my Facebook page that said ‘The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it’ and that was enough to make me turn away from the machine,” she says.
Vegetarians are generally thinner and healthier than meat-eaters, according to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics. While going totally vegetarian may not be realistic for you, one way to slim down your meals is to replace some meat with plant protein. Black beans, for example, give you 15 grams of protein per serving, and mushrooms are rich in umami flavor, and can be used to replace half the ground beef in most recipes.
The good news is that weight loss pills don’t need to have earth-shattering effects to improve your health. According to a study by Gerry Oster and other epidemiology researchers, a sustained 10% weight loss (which you could achieve by taking Alli for two years) would reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and significantly increase your life expectancy (3).
Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
In a new study, Stanford University researchers put more than 600 overweight adults on either a healthy low-fat or low-carb diet. It turns out, participants had similar levels of weight loss success on each plan. Researchers looked for clues (such as insulin levels and gene patterns) to see if there are any factors that might make someone more successful on either diet, but after combing through the data, they were not able to make any connections. Since it may take years before scientists discover individual traits that could lead to more success on one plan compared to another, for now, we can learn a lot — and lose a lot! — by recognizing the dieting advice that all experts agree on.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this: Your TV is making you fat. It prevents you from being active, gives you the munchies, and makes you distracted while you’re eating. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate in front of the TV consumed 10 percent more than they normally would. Eating while distracted disrupts your satiety signals, so shutting off all your electronics while munching will help you stick to your portions, and feel full.

Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.


Losing weight is hard. Losing weight and then keeping it off is even harder. Case in point: 74% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and weight loss is a $20 billion industry. All that said, if you're trying to slim down, there's no reason to lose hope. Plenty of studies show that lasting weight loss is not a myth. Work some of the 57 research-backed food, exercise, and lifestyle tips that follow into your routine, and watch the pounds start to come off.

Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
All meals are important, but breakfast is what helps you start your day on the right track. The best, heartiest breakfasts are ones that will fill you up, keep you satisfied, and stave off cravings later in the day. Aim to eat anywhere between 400 and 500 calories for your morning meal, and make sure you're including a source of lean protein plus filling fat (e.g., eggs, beans, unsweetened Greek yogurt, nuts, or nut butters) and fiber (veggies, fruit, or 100% whole grains). Starting your day with a blood sugar-stabilizing blend of nutrients will help you slim down without sacrifice.
Though they work through a variety of mechanisms, one thing weight loss pills have in common is tilting the calories in / calories out equation in your favor. Reducing calories in can come from supplement ingredients that suppress your hunger or reduce the amount of calories you actually absorb. Increasing calories out, which is the mechanism by which most weight loss pills function, can happen by increasing your energy expenditure or your fat oxidation.

At the heart of its flexible system: SmartPoints. SmartPoints derive primarily from number of calories; sugar and saturated fat drive the number up, protein brings it down. Getting a feel for the number of points that different foods typically “cost” in order to stay on your daily “budget” is a great way to cultivate healthy decision-making: A fried chicken wing is 7 points, while 3 oz. of chicken breast without the skin is 2 points. A sugar-laden Coca-Cola is 9 points, but so is a dinner-sized serving of Moroccan chicken rice and potatoes. Some foods are zero points: fruits and vegetables, skinless chicken and turkey breast, seafood, eggs, nonfat yogurt. Being encouraged to eat certain items in this way helps to restructure your mindset around food.
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