The reason we’re suggesting 45 minutes instead of the typical 30 as one of the ways to lose weight is that a Duke University study found that while 30 minutes of daily walking is enough to prevent weight gain in most relatively sedentary people, exercise beyond 30 minutes results in weight and fat loss. Burning an additional 300 calories a day with three miles of brisk walking (45 minutes should do it) could help you lose 30 pounds in a year without even changing how much you’re eating. Here are 20 hidden reasons your diet isn’t working.
Harvie, M. N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011, May). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: A randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (London), 35(5), 714–727. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/
Mason, A. E., Epel, E. S., Aschbacher, K., Lustig, R. H., Acree, M., Kristeller, J., … Daubenmier, J. (2016, May 1). Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Appetite , 100, 86–93. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799744/
Refined white breads are simple carbohydrates that your body processes as sugar, and can really hinder your weight-loss efforts. Whole grain bread, on the other hand, is chock-full of slimming fiber and can help you feel fuller, longer. Just be sure to read your labels. “If the ingredients at the top of the ingredient list read sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or wheat flour, these foods contain mostly simple carbs and should be limited,” Rebecca Lewis, RD, told Eat This, Not That! in our article for 20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat. “A food is only considered a whole grain if the first ingredient on the packaging says, ‘whole grain’ or ‘whole wheat.’”
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
Many diets, including Atkins and the keto diet, fit into this umbrella. A typical low-carb diet limits carbs to less than 60 g daily, but this can vary, according to the Mayo Clinic. (15) In a September 2015 review published in PLoS One, people following low-carb diets saw modest weight loss — although study authors note that long-term effects of the diet require further research. (16)
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.

Consequently, researchers have widely discredited the hCG diet, which involves using hCG injections, pellets, sprays, or drops, and consuming  as few as 500 calories daily. The diet is problematic not only because there’s a lack of research on hCG supplements, but also because the calorie requirement is dangerously low, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, hormone imbalances, blood clots, and other issues. Thus, most experts agree the hCG diet is not safe for anyone, the Mayo Clinic notes. (35)
Avoid fad diets. It's never a good idea to trade meals for shakes or to give up a food group in the hope that you'll lose weight — we all need a variety of foods to get the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Avoid diet pills (even the over-the-counter or herbal variety). They can be dangerous to your health; besides, there's no evidence that they help keep weight off over the long term.
Eating dessert every day can be good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.
Caloric intake: While it is true that less calories usually means more weight loss, some diet plans are strict and can leave you feeling hungry most of the time. Additionally, some people need more calories because of metabolic issues or high activity levels, and low-calorie plans might be insufficient. Think about whether a diet plan will keep you full.
Eating dessert every day can be good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.

A. Not necessarily. "Restricting your calorie intake over a prolonged period of time will likely slow your metabolic rate," says Elisa Zied, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "After a decade of this, your body has probably become accustomed to functioning on fewer calories, so any increase could translate into extra pounds." But the effect isn't permanent.
Snacking is the key to Mary Rogerson’s 60-pound weight loss but it’s not just how often she eats but what. “I aim to eat at least seven servings of vegetables a day, along with some protein, every few hours,” she says. “And The best part is that by the time she’s loaded up on her rainbow of produce, she’s usually too full to eat much else and her cravings for sweets have gone way down.
MyFitnessPal: An app widely recommended by trainers and fitness enthusiasts, MyFitnessPal is great for tracking macros. Goal macros: 50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein. It further breaks these general guidelines into specific gram amounts that make it easy to see how some macros add up quick (carbs) and others don’t (protein — hitting 64 grams takes conscious effort!).
Very good article. Many of the people I work with have health issues related to type 2 diabetes so this article gives excellent direction for those struggling to manage their health condition with an appropriate diet that they can sustain. Counting calories is not necessarily the answer. Often times, people cannot understand why they just cannot lose weight or how they became diabetic or what to do about it. Thanks a lot.
“Don't like eating meat?” asks Ginger Hultin, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Seattle and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then don't be paleo! Travel a lot and rely on eating out? The DASH diet may end in frustration for you.” The bottom line: The diet you choose needs to be safe and effective, while taking into account your lifestyle.
Watch your drinks. It's amazing how many calories are in the sodas, juices, and other drinks that you take in every day. Simply cutting out a can of soda or one sports drink can save you 150 calories or more each day. Drink water or other sugar-free drinks to quench your thirst and stay away from sugary juices and sodas. Choosing nonfat or low-fat milk is also a good idea.
Reviewers say Nature’s Variety is a great choice for cats that need to maintain their weight. Since it’s slightly higher in fat (a result of the increased protein from raw food), it may be a little more difficult for your cat to lose weight on this food. But it’s a great choice for those who have a picky eater that tends to put on the pounds and needs a great weight maintenance food.
You know the kind, says Jillian: "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap."
Fearing all fat is a thing of the past. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) actually help you lose weight, not gain it. When researchers asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie diet high in MUFAs, they lost a third of their belly fat in just 4 weeks. Sprinkle a handful of nuts on your salad, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over steamed veggies, or mash a quarter of an avocado onto your breakfast toast.
A. There hasn't been much research on this, but several studies suggest that weighing yourself more often, rather than less, may help with weight control. Findings published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine on two large groups of people -- one group participating in a weight-gain-prevention study and the other participating in a weight-loss study -- revealed that those who weighed themselves more often were more likely to lose weight or less likely to regain weight over the next two years. The authors of the study say daily weighing is valuable to people trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain.
Athletes at their prime must consume many more calories than the average person to be at peak performance, but as they age and become less active may find that their old eating habits are hard to break. Former athletes who have gained weight and want to become lean and muscular as they age may turn to weight loss programs for help getting on track.

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.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
Weight loss and weight maintenance are top concerns for most of us, but there are so many rumors and fads out there that it's hard to keep track of what really works. We've sorted through the claims by talking to registered dietitians and doctors and reading the most recent studies to give you trustworthy answers to 15 top weight loss questions, including:
Yeah, yeah—you've heard a million times that you must start your day with a balanced breakfast. This advice bears repeating, however. An Imperial College London study found that when people skipped breakfast, the reward centers in their brains lit up when they were shown pictures of high-calorie foods. That means if you skip breakfast, you'll be more tempted by bad-for-you snacks later in the day. What's more, a 2013 study found that women who enjoyed a large morning meal had a larger drop in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, than those who ate a small breakfast.
Known as the carb-hating diet, the South Beach diet is a weight loss food plan centered around low-carbohydrate meals. It’s important to note that the South Beach Diet doesn’t forbid carbohydrates, unlike many fad diets out there. Instead, this healthy weight loss system understands the intrinsic benefits of healthy carbs and actually builds them into your meal plans to maximize those strengths for optimal health and weight loss. The diet focuses on fiber and nutrient-rich carbs rather than empty calorie carbs that don’t do you any good. And, if done properly, you can expect to drop 8-13 pounds in the first two weeks! Take a look at some of the program highlights you can look forward to from the South Beach Diet:
Drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health, and is a great way to boost your weight-loss efforts. But if you’re getting your H2O from cheap bottled water, the bottle itself could pose a problem; Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, has been linked to obesity, and it’s still found in many cheap plastics. A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a chance of being obese than those without as much of the chemical in their systems. So if you must drink store-bought bottled water, check to see if the bottle is BPA-free. And whatever you do, don’t reuse the same bottle; constantly refilling the same plastic bottle can cause BPA to leak into the water.

The main advantage of the low-carb diet is that it causes you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count 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."

Like a marathoner stretching before the big run, eating half a grapefruit before a meal can enhance your body’s fat-burning performance. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that this “warm-up” tactic can help whittle your middle—by up to an inch—in just six weeks! The scientists attribute the powerful effects to the grapefruits’ fat-zapping phytochemicals. The fruit can interact negatively with certain medications, so as long as you get the green-light from your M.D, plan to have half of a grapefruit before your morning meal and add a few segments your starter salads to reap the benefits.


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.
Sure, leggings are way more comfortable than pants, and you can even get away with wearing them to work these days. Thing is, that expandable waistline makes you more prone to overeating. If you're going to rock yoga pants all day, consider pairing them with a belted tunic. The belt will prompt you to slow down and think about how you're feeling during a meal.
The study began with 609 relatively healthy overweight and obese people, and 481 completed the whole year. For the first month, everyone did what they usually did. Then, for the next eight weeks, the low-fat group reduced their total fat intake to 20 grams per day, and the low-carb group reduced their total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. These are incredibly restricted amounts, considering that there are 26 grams of carbs in the yogurt drink I’m enjoying as I write this, and 21 grams of fat in my half of the dark chocolate bar my husband and I split for dessert last night.
If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.
Mason, A. E., Epel, E. S., Aschbacher, K., Lustig, R. H., Acree, M., Kristeller, J., … Daubenmier, J. (2016, May 1). Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Appetite , 100, 86–93. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799744/
Getting up early for an a.m. workout is always tough, especially as you slog through getting dressed before the sun rises. Leaving your sneakers out within view of your bed will make it easier to get out of bed, and remind you of why you’re waking up early in the first place. Plus, setting out your entire workout ensemble will cut down on getting ready time, so you can get dressed and leave the house before you have time to change your mind.
A. Compile a detailed food diary for at least a week. "Most of us underestimate how many calories we consume, so it's possible you're eating more than you think," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy (Marlowe & Company, 2004). If the calorie count is correct, then the wrong exercise program could be to blame. "If you're not strength training while you're dieting, you may be losing lean tissue, and that cuts your metabolic rate," explains Sass.

To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.


The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
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.
Nuts were also among the top 5 foods that promote weight loss according to Harvard. That's probably because peanut butter and all nuts and nut butters deliver a good dose of healthy fats, fiber and protein—all satisfying nutrients. Nuts used to get a "bad" reputation for being high in calories and fat. And while nuts and nut butters are calorie dense—2 tablespoons of peanut butter has just under 200 calories, 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber—they're also nutrient dense and help you build a satisfying breakfast.
A. Compile a detailed food diary for at least a week. "Most of us underestimate how many calories we consume, so it's possible you're eating more than you think," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy (Marlowe & Company, 2004). If the calorie count is correct, then the wrong exercise program could be to blame. "If you're not strength training while you're dieting, you may be losing lean tissue, and that cuts your metabolic rate," explains Sass.
Little treats keep you from feeling deprived, so every day, allow yourself a bit of something you love (aim for 150 calories each). This kind of moderation is the difference between a "diet" and a lifestyle you can stick with forever. For salon owner Caitlin Gallagher, who lost 125 pounds, that meant replacing her nightly bowl of ice cream with a square of chocolate; social worker Brittany Hicks, who lost 100 pounds, started baking mini versions of her favorite pies.
No, seriously. This annoying social media habit could end up helping you eat less. An analysis of attentive eating studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that if people recall their last meal as being filling and satisfying, they tend to eat less during their next meal. So snap your delicious-looking food, and scroll back through your feed before you eat next.

Type of support: Every person has different needs when it comes to what motivates them to succeed. Think about how you have met other important goals, quit bad habits, or motivated yourself to change in the past. Would you be more likely to succeed using social media; in-person meetings with strangers or acquaintances; or expert counseling using text messaging, phone calls or email?
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.
A. It's not clear from studies whether eating slowly helps people eat less food. "It's worth a try, however, to slow down and tune in to knowing when the food has satisfied you -- especially if you are a fast eater," says Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., author of Thin for Life, Eating Thin for Life and Thin for Life Daybook (Houghton Mifflin Co.). As with any strategy, if it doesn't help, you can abandon it.

Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
One note about this diet plan before we dive in. A personal trainer by professional, Jillian Michaels’ weight loss plans are not for the faint of heart. She’ll take you on a journey, transform your body, and make you reach the fitness goals you’ve been craving…but it won’t come easy. Go into this plan with the determination and awareness that you’ll be working hard, and the results will really amaze you.
U.S. News enlisted the help of a panel of food and health experts to rank 40 diets on a variety of measures, like how easy it is to follow, the diet’s ability to help a person lose weight in the short and long term, safety and more. The company then converted the expert’s rankings into scores that allowed them to determine the top diets. Beyond best overall diet, the experts also ranked the best diets for weight loss, healthy eating and more.
Eating dessert every day can be good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.
Health.com is part of the Meredith Health Group. All rights reserved. The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. All products and services featured are selected by our editors. Health.com may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. See the Terms of Servicethis link opens in a new tab and Privacy Policythis link opens in a new tab (Your California Rightsthis link opens in a new tab)for more information. Ad Choicesthis link opens in a new tab | EU Data Subject Requeststhis link opens in a new tab
×