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Diving Into the Diet That Works
You’re one of those folks who plunge into every diet craze.
By Susan Weiner
Cathy Barr has the kind of body that turns heads—five feet, seven inches with curves from top to bottom—and she follows a vegetarian diet that many would already consider healthy. Yet, when it came to losing a few extra pounds, Barr threw sensibility to the wind, opting to adopt a strict regimen that purged all fats from her diet, even those that seemed beneficial such as vegetable oils, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, not to mention coffee and black tea. In just a few short weeks she lost weight, but the diet left her feeling wanting.
“Oddly enough, I didn’t have cravings, but I did feel at times that I was depriving myself,” says Barr, a fundraiser for a non-profit organization in Columbus, Ohio. “While I wanted to learn about better eating habits, I did see a noticeable change in my hip size, and I lost at least one full size.” When she transitioned back to a more practical diet, some weight gain was inevitable. In the process, though, Barr learned several valuable lessons: “I’m much more cognizant of fat grams and what I put in my body. After all, you are what you eat. Just switching from pasta to brown rice was a big step. It’s also about finding creative ways to flavor your food.”
Barr’s experience with what might be called a “fad” diet—a program that promises fast-and-easy weight loss—wasn’t too bad. That can’t be said for many other would-be thin people: Many of them find that, like a game of ping-pong, fad diets result in back-and-forth weight loss and regain.
Fad for All
Whether it’s the All-Liquid, Grapefruit (Cabbage Soup, Banana, Hotdog, Chocolate…) or any of the other innumerable weight-loss fads, odds are that your diet is destined to fail. By virtue of “going on a diet” you are setting yourself up for disappointment, since going on a diet implies that you will eventually go off of it. Just ask Ellen Marshall, an East Windsor, New Jersey stay-at-home mom who has battled weight problems for most of her life.
You’re desperate to learn how food, diet, exercise and supplements affect your
By Lisa James
Eat fruit—it’s good for you/spurn fruit—it’s full of carbs. Avoid fat like the plague/make sure 30% of your calories come from fat. Count every calorie/calories don’t really count. Eat a high-protein/low-protein/water-and-avocado/seafood diet.
And you wonder why you’re confused about nutrition?
Fear not, gentle reader. Whether you’re looking to drop a few pounds or simply want a healthy eating plan you can stick with, what you really need is a straight-up nutrition primer that will allow you to make good food and lifestyle choices without having an advanced degree in the subject. Interested? Keep reading.
What’s in My Food, Anyway?
Most of the substances found in food (besides plain water) fall into three basic categories, known as macronutrients.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are sugar compounds that provide the majority of food’s energy value. Simple carbohydrates include sugar in all its permutations: Table sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, honey, corn syrup (including high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS), malt or malt syrup, fruit sugar (fructose)—anything with an “ose” on the end of it is a highfalutin’ name for sugar. In addition, refined-grain foods—including such starches as white rice, white bread, etc.—also contain simple carbs. These break down rapidly, causing blood sugar, called glucose, to rise rapidly. That rise in blood sugar provides a quick burst of energy, often followed, alas, by a crash when glucose falls as quickly as it spiked.
The Energy Times Diet
You've tried every weight-loss program under the sun.
By the Editors of Energy Times.
The first time you tried to lose weight, you went on the cottage-cheese-and-celery-sticks quickie diet. By the end of two weeks, you were ready to gnaw off your left arm. You dove into a quart of ice cream instead and eventually gained 10 extra pounds.
The second time you counted points and bought a food scale. But the whole thing reminded you too much of high-school science lab (you hated lab), so that was out. You did lose 20 pounds, though.
The third time you carefully balanced your carbs, fats and proteins. You were really good about it, too, passing up anything—including Aunt Clara’s never-say-diet cheesecake—that interfered with your exquisitely designed regimen. But then you went on vacation and decided you deserved a break from all that calculating. So you ate…and ate…and ate…for a full six months after the vacation ended. Whoops.
Then, 30 pounds heavier and more determined than ever, you swept every crumb of carbohydrate out of your kitchen. And that worked for a while (at least you could have sugarless cheesecake). But as with every other diet, you started to cheat: a bag of chips, bread with your dressing-soaked salad. And now you can feel your clothes getting tighter—again.
Don’t feel bad. You are but one soldier in a vast weight-loss army, slogging along through various diet valleys and coming out pretty much unchanged or even slightly heavier than before. Actually, none of those diets you tried are bad in and of themselves, with the exception of the first one (face it, how long can anyone realistically subsist on cottage cheese and celery?). The truth is that any diet works if you stick with it. But sticking with it is always the problem: Eating should be a pleasure, not a demonstration of how well you can operate a Palm Pilot.
To help you cut through the dietary clutter, Energy Times has decided to weigh in with its own weight-loss plan. It is (drum roll, please): EAT LESS, EXERCISE MORE
While “eat less, exercise more” is as simple a plan as you’re going to find, it does help to understand some of its underlying principles—and we don’t even have to write a book. (If cutting food and increasing exercise doesn’t...