5 “Bad” Foods You Should Eat on a Diet

By Liz Vaccariello

The Real Secret to Lasting Weight Loss
Here’s some not-so-great news for people trying to lose weight: Your body loves to cling on to fat. You know the feeling—you look down and out of nowhere, there’s a muffin top rolling over your pants, or back fat bulging out of your bra. Or at your annual physical, that big chunky slide on the scale moved over a whole notch. How did that happen?

The answer: It’s usually a series of little things—walking a little less, eating a little more, gaining a pound here or there that never goes away. Whatever the scenario, inch by inch, this gradual fat creep snuck up on you. And the world we live in—the foods we’re exposed to, the way we exercise, how we sleep, and where we work—is making it harder than ever to let go of that fat.

50 Habits of Naturally Thin People

Now for the good news: Many of the habits we follow to fight creep are actually making it worse—and this means that simply reversing or rethinking them can make it easier than ever to lose that stubborn, elusive weight gain.

It turns out that many of the “fattening” foods you avoid while trying to slim down actually have unique fat releasing properties that—in moderation, of course—can help you lose weight more quickly. And I love that you don’t need to deprive yourself: these are foods we all love to eat, and now there’s no reason to avoid them!

1. Red Wine
So many people have asked me if it’s OK to have a drink when you’re trying to lose weight. Listen up—this glass is for you! Many studies show that a small glass of wine a day is good for your heart, and cutting-edge research suggests that resveratrol, a potent anti-aging chemical found in red wine, is a fat releaser too.

In one study of more than 19,000 women of normal weight, light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol. An animal study found that resveratrol improved exercise endurance and protected against obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

2. Chocolate
If you’re like me, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate to your life. You probably know that cocoa is packed with antioxidants, but recent research reveals that they may also help you release fat. A 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that obese, diabetic mice that consumed a diet high in epicatechins, the antioxidants found in cocoa lived longer. The cocoa reduced degeneration of the arteries in their heart and it blunted fat deposition.

3. Cheese
Raise your hand if dairy is one of the first things to go when you start a diet. How can you lose weight and eat pizza?! The fantastic news here is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. One University of Tennessee study showed that eating three servings of dairy a day significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects. And dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, another fat releaser. Research shows that people who don’t consume enough of this bone builder have greater fat mass and less control of their appetite.

7 Light Options for Cheese Lovers

4. Coconut Oil
Saturated fats are usually considered no-nos for dieters, but you shouldn’t shun this sweet, rich oil. It was shown to do some nifty things for abdominally obese women in a 2009 study out of Brazil, including decreasing waist circumference and improving the ratio of their good “HDL” cholesterol to bad “LDL.” In populations where coconut oil is commonly eaten, high cholesterol levels and heart disease are uncommon.

5. Nuts
I’ve known about the power of MUFAs—monounsaturated fatty acids—to help reduce belly fat since 2006. They’re found in certain nuts and seeds (as well as olives, avocados, and dark chocolate). But after diving into the most current research, I also discovered the power of PUFAs—polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in fish as well as in many nuts and seeds—to boost metabolism and calorie burn.

Basically, when it comes to a healthy, filling snack, you can’t go wrong with nuts—they’re packed with fat releasing unsaturated fats, filling fiber (another fat releaser), and a host of other healthy nutrients. Although the benefits of nuts are becoming increasingly well known, I’m surprised that people still avoid them because of their fattening reputation. I’m here to tell you that you’re far better off munching on nuts than pretzels or any fat-free packaged, processed food.

Why Carbohydrates are Good for You!

By Dana Ellis, RD. UCLA Clinical dietitian

Believe it or not, despite the fact that there are many diets, which preach low-carb eating as the golden ticket to weight loss, the truth is that your body actually needs carbohydrates to function at its optimal level. Carbohydrates are a component of foods such as breads, grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables that break down into glucose. It is this glucose, which directly feeds your muscles and cells allowing you to sustain an active life-style.
An important fact to know is how many carbohydrates your body needs to function at its peak level. If you are diabetic for example, you may need to take extra care in how you spread your carbs throughout the day or at any one time. This is to prevent drastic peaks and valleys in your blood sugars. Contrastingly, if you are a long-distance marathon runner you have a different set of issues to contend with, such as how not to run out of carbohydrate fuel for your muscles on a long 26 mile run.
It is also important to understand that carbs in and of themselves are not evil and do not make you gain weight. To lose weight you must use more calories than you take in through food or drink. Clinical studies have shown that for long-term weight loss, low carbohydrate diets fare no better than traditional diets where 50-60% of calories come from carbs. Therefore, it is not the source of calories that makes the difference in body weight, but rather the total intake of calories.
Additionally, in studies where participants were divided into two groups where one group followed a traditional diet and the other followed a low-carb diet, more of the participants completed the study when consuming a calorie-controlled traditional diet versus the same calorie controlled low-carb diet. The reason may have been due to having fewer restrictions on what they could eat, leading to an easier time of maintaining the diet and thus weight loss!
Another benefit to carbs? Fiber—a portion of the carbohydrate food that your body cannot break down and use for energy. Currently 25-35 grams of fiber are recommended each day. Fiber has been found to decrease incidence of cancer, decrease total cholesterol, and increase sensations of satiety. When a food is in its natural form, there will be more fiber in it.
For example, a piece of whole fruit such as an apple has 3-4 grams of fiber and about 80 calories, a good source. Yet, if you drink 1 cup of apple juice you will only be obtaining the concentrated sugars of the fruit, without the filling fiber, and thus would be drinking about 120 calories and 0 grams of fiber. Therefore, it is important to eat whole fruits and vegetables for wholesome and filling nutrients and fiber.
Finally, you know how when you watch an elite athlete and think about the amazing ways they can use their body and how healthy they look? Well, I promise you they did not get that way by eating a high fat, high protein diet. They would never be able to train as hard as they do day in and day out to become the Olympic athlete they may be! To achieve their goals, their bodies required glucose from carbs to sustain their lengthy and difficult training regimens. Hence, it is important to give your body the right balance of nutrients including carbohydrates to perform at your very best. Happy eating!

Our Favorite (Healthy) Fast Food Breakfasts

by CookingLight.com

Next time you’re in a hurry, fuel up with these quick yet healthy fast food breakfast options. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. -By Karen Ansel, RD

Breakfast On-the-Go
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it’s also the one we have the least time for. But before you go without-or grab an oversized bagel or donut-check out the latest fast food offerings. Many are actually good for you and slimming too.

See More: Grab-and-Go Quick Breakfast Ideas

Starbucks: Protein Plate
When it comes to breakfast on the run, it can be hard to find one with plenty of protein that’s not also oozing with saturated fat. Enter Starbucks’ Protein Plate, an energizing combo of fruit, peanut butter, a hard cooked egg, and a mini bagel. Together these deliver the perfect balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats to help you power through your morning. One serving provides 370 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 17 grams each of protein and fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Pair it with a cup of green tea for an added antioxidantboost.

 

See More: Top-Rated Breakfast and Brunch

 

Subway: Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt
The folks at Subway put the breakfast sandwich on a diet and came up with this ingenious muffin melt. They did it by swapping in egg whites for whole eggs and adding fresh vegetables like bell peppers and onions. The result: an egg muffin with only 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. It also packs a satisfying 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber along with as much calcium as a glass of milk. Team it up with a bag of apple slices and you’ll work in a serving of produce to boot.

 

See More: 100-Calorie Oatmeal Toppings

 

Au Bon Pain: Large Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol this heart-smart breakfast from Au Bon Pain has your name on it. Not only does it contain the cholesterol-lowering fiber beta-glucan, it also supplies avenanthramides, antioxidants exclusively found in oats that protect against atherosclerosis. And because it’s water-rich it’s naturally low in calories, so you can dig into a big bowlful. Made from rolled oats and apples and sweetened with a touch of honey and sugar, one heaping 16-ounce bowlful provides only 370 calories. Nine grams of filling fiber and 11 grams of slowly-digested protein mean it’s also guaranteed to fend off midmorning hunger pangs.

See More: Healthy Muffin Recipes

 

Jamba Juice: 12-oz Mango Peach Topper™

 

Jamba’s Ideal Meals™ make the perfect breakfast when there’s no time for breakfast. Part smoothie, part yogurt parfait, this meal has it all combining bananas, peaches, mangos, soymilk, and non-fat yogurt with a crunchy organic pumpkin flaxseed granola topping. One 12-oz serving has only 340 calories and 5 grams of fat and supplies 6 grams of fiber and at least half your daily dose of vitamins A and C. Order yours with an extra Whey Protein Superboost for a total of 19 grams of satiating protein.

 

See More: Vegetarian Egg Recipes

 

McDonald’s: Scrambled Eggs + English Muffin

 

You may think of it as the home of the Egg McMuffin but McDonald’s also dishes up a simpler – and healthier – scrambled egg breakfast. Just order each item individually (no oversized platters please!) and be sure to bypass the breakfast meat. Try a side of scrambled eggs, an English muffin, strawberry preserves, and a large coffee for 365 calories and half the sodium you’d get from the McMuffin.

 

See More: Superfast Kid-Friendly Recipes

 

Jack in the Box: Breakfast Jack®

 

If you think breakfast just isn’t breakfast without the meat, this sandwich is for you. By trading ham for bacon, Jack in the Box has managed to whip up one of the lightest breakfast ‘wiches around with just 284 calories and 11 grams of fat. Wash it down with an OJ and you’ll score a hefty dose of heart-healthy potassium and more than 100% of your day’s vitamin C.

 

See More: Breakfast for Dinner Recipes

 

Burger King: 3-Piece French Toast Sticks

 

Who says you can’t start your day on the sweet side? Instead of a giant cinnamon roll, check out this perfectly sized portion of French toast strips from Burger King. Three strips with a 1-ounce container of syrup provide a respectable 300 calories, 11 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat. And it’s unusually low in sodium with only 260 milligrams per serving. Grab an 8-oz jug of fat free milk along with it for an additional protein boost plus a third of your day’s calcium.

 

See More: Ultimate Reader Recipe Winners and Finalists

 

Einstein Bros: Pumpernickel Bagel with Smoked Salmon and Whipped Reduced Fat Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese

 

Get your omega-3 fix first thing with this savory bagel sandwich from Einstein Bros. Made with fluffy whipped reduced-fat cream cheese and a not-too-big bagel, it’s a lot lighter than you’d expect, delivering only 380 calories and 11 grams of fat. And it’s heart-smart too thanks to a generous serving of DHA-rich smoked salmon and fiber-filled pumpernickel. In addition to their hearty flavor, feasting on dark breads like pumpernickel can reduce your heart disease risk by 25% according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

9 Habits that are Good 4 You! by Jessica Girdwain

coffee, beer, stressedcoffee, beer, stressedBy Jessica Girdwain

Look at the Bright Side

 

When it comes to your health, some missteps are OK to make from time to time. In fact, many of these so-called mistakes, such as downing coffee and forgetting to take your vitamins, can actually help you improve your health, feel better faster and boost your mood. Learn the nine “bad” habits you should keep and how to make them work for you.



You drink a huge cup of coffee in the morning… and pour yourself a refill (or two)

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

A couple of cups of joe may perk you up in more ways than you think. Coffee gets a bad rap because of the caffeine, but it may actually help regulate your mood. A recent study published inArchives of Internal Medicine showed that women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a 15% lower risk of depression. Photo by iStock

 

“Caffeine helps activate the brain chemicals involved in mood, like dopamine and serotonin,” says study author Alberto Ascherio, MD, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants and other healthy compounds that may help protect against cancer, according to new research. One caveat: If you don’t drink coffee, don’t start (caffeine is a stimulant and can cause jitters or an upset stomach in some people). But if you’re a java lover, consider this permission to pour yourself an extra cup.
Learn 7 surprising things about your morning cup of joe.

You allow the Debbie Downer in you to sneak out

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Think you should force yourself to stay positive (no matter what) when difficult things happen? Think again: Research shows that the key to long-term happiness may actually be dropping the “Everything’s fine!” act. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that newlyweds who remained positive in the face of negative but controllable circumstances (problems at work, financial issues) experienced more symptoms of depression four years later than people who looked at situations in a less positive (and more accurate) light. Photo by iStock

 

“Being realistic drives people to take steps to improve their lives, which helps ease stress and sadness,” says study author Erin O’Mara, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Also, forcing yourself to stay positive often means you may be suppressing worries or other emotions, which can be unhealthy. Changing your outlook can be as simple as saying to yourself, “We’re in debt. What’s the first thing we can do to start digging out?” instead of denying the situation.
Discover 9 ways to think more positively.

You forget to take your vitamins

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Although vitamins can fill in the gaps to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs (a perfect diet all the time is next to impossible!), there’s a downside to always popping a vitamin. It may make you reach for the bag of potato chips instead of an apple-and skip your workout to boot, reveals a new study published inPsychological SciencePhoto by iStock

 

Researchers found that taking a multivitamin every day may make you feel like you have the leeway to blow off other healthy habits-like grabbing dinner at the drive-thru rather than eating right or channel surfing instead of taking a walk, notes Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics, nutrition and international health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

 

In general, your body best absorbs nutrients in their natural form, so rather than relying on vitamins, focus on eating a healthy diet packed with whole foods. If you do take vitamins, remind yourself that they don’t replace a healthy diet and exercise or provide a buffer against unhealthy habits.
Find out which 5 nutrients you need the most-and how to get them.

You get angry-and show it!

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

“Anger is actually a good emotion that’s often misunderstood or irrationally used,” says Mary Lamia, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Kentfield, CA. “It motivates you to take action and remedy situations that are wrong.” The key is figuring out how to appropriately channel your anger rather than lash out. Dr. Lamia lays out the three easy steps: Photo by Thinkstock

 

1) Figure out exactly what triggered your anger. Was it the rude comment your coworker made during lunch?

 

2) Consider any other emotions that may be behind your anger. Do you feel embarrassed about the snide remark she made in front of other people? Are you really unhappy with your job but afraid of change, so you don’t look elsewhere?

 

3) Plan a course of action to fix the situation. Have a conversation with your coworker to find out why she made that comment. Check job boards and see what other opportunities are out there.

 

A good rule: Always “sleep on it” or take some time before reacting. The physiological effects of a triggered emotion affect how you think, says Dr. Lamia. Giving yourself a few hours can help you clearly think through what’s going on and the best action to take.
Boost your mood with these easy tips.

You drink beer

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Red wine gets all the attention when it comes to heart-health benefits, but a brew can be good for you, too. “Beer is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants,” says Cassie Dimmick, MS, a registered dietitian in Springfield, MO. It also provides a dose of energy-revving iron (dark beers are a richer source than light lagers, says research) as well as dietary silicon, a mineral that helps promote bone formation, which may improve bone density and help protect against osteoporosis. In fact, research shows that some pale ales contain just as much or more silicon than oat bran, which is one of the best food sources of this mineral. Photo by iStock

 

Beer contains 120 to 150 calories per 12-oz serving, which can add up fast. So if you do drink beer, make sure you stick to one per day (or less) to get the healthy benefits without the added calories and pounds.
Get tasty ideas for cooking with beer.

You get stressed about the little stuff

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Chronic stress is linked to conditions like heart disease, but short-term stress actually has a positive side, pushing you to get things done-and succeed at them. “Stress triggers the hormone cortisol, which helps energize us, revving up our systems to handle the day,” says Judith Orloff, MD, author of Emotional Freedom. “It also motivates us to do better on the things we care about and problem-solve.”Photo by iStock

 

So know that the brief stressed-out rush you get before a presentation at work will help you perform better, and when the car breaks down, a little stress will help you fix the situation quickly. Balance is key, though, so it’s important to recharge your batteries every day so those once-in-awhile stressed moments don’t turn into a constant thing, says Dr. Orloff. Her suggestions: Spend five minutes every day doing an activity or hobby you love, or if you prefer peace and quiet, sit in a dark room and breathe deeply. 

You skip your workout two days in a row

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

You don’t have to exercise hard every day to be healthy (and taking a break is actually better). “Three to four days a week is enough to keep you in shape,” says Mike Boyle, owner of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning gym in Boston. Here’s why: Days off give muscles time to repair and strengthen, something that happens only with rest, he says. You may also get tired of-or start to dread-a strict routine.

 

It’s a good idea to be active every day (whether that’s walking with your friends at lunch or taking your dog out for a stroll around the block when you get home in the evening), but schedule tougher workouts for just a few days a week. At least two of those should be strength workouts with weights, which will deliver the biggest toning and fat-burning benefits, says Boyle.


You procrastinate by reading those forwarded jokes in your inbox

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

It may seem like a waste of time, but taking a break to do something that makes you laugh is worth it. A small study of 30 people from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that when people watched a funny movie (There’s Something About Mary), the lining of their blood vessels expanded up to 50% more than when they watched a stressful movie (Saving Private Ryan). Here’s why a hearty chuckle is so good for you: “Laughter activates blood vessels to release the chemical nitric oxide, which causes them to enlarge and can help reduce blood pressure,” says coauthor Michael Miller, MD. Photo by iStock

 

The harder you laugh, the bigger the benefits-deep belly laughs, not light chuckles, are more likely to trigger the healthy chemicals. And be sure to share that laugh with friends. Social laughter boosts levels of pain-relieving, feel-good endorphins, according to research from the University of Oxford. So watch a funny YouTube clip with your kids or call a friend and watch while on the phone together. 

You take an over-the-counter sleep aid occasionally

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Taking these pills to induce sleep every once in a while is OK. They can be especially useful if you have trouble sleeping due to nasal allergies or congestion, says Ronald Popper, MD, medical director of the Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center. Why? Many OTC options (like Unisom SleepTabs) work because of a side effect of an antihistamine, a common active ingredient that also helps relieve allergies. But most sleep specialists don’t recommend that you use them daily. All you’re doing is taking advantage of the side effect (sleepiness) of antihistamines, which are intended for another use (reducing allergy symptoms). By contrast, a prescription sleep aid acts on the “sleep center” of your brain to induce sleep, says Dr. Popper. Photo by iStock

 

If stuffed-up nasal passages are what’s keeping you up at night, OTC sleep aids may be a good solution. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert before you start taking anything-antihistamines can cause other side effects because they affect the whole body and the longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy because your body builds up tolerance to their effect fast.
Get more sleep with these 10 natural remedies.

Is Diet Soda Addictive?

By Lisa Collier Cool

Insights from Brain Science
Another plausible explanation is habit: diet soda becomes part of daily rituals – a break from work, lunch, watching the news, you name it. And sipping a zero-calorie beverage may not seem to have downside to curb the urge to overindulge.

More persuasive, perhaps, is the notion that artificial sweeteners trigger the brain’s reward system. In a study of women who drank water sweetened with sugar or Splenda, the women couldn’t taste the difference between the two, but functional MRIs showed that the brain’s reward system responded more strongly to sugar.

Study author Martin P. Paulus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego suggests that diet soda might be addicting because “artificial sweeteners have positive reinforcing effects – meaning humans will work for it, like for other foods, alcohol and even drugs of abuse.”

Is diet soda making you fat?

Is Diet Soda Harmful?
Beyond the addiction issue, diet soda has been linked to increased rates of heart attack and stroke, kidney problems, preterm deliveries, and, yes, weight gain. While not yet carved in scientific stone, the emerging evidence is a bit disturbing. Here’s a rundown:

•Heart Attack and Stroke: Drinking diet sodas daily may increase the risks for heart attack and stroke and other vascular events by 43 percent, but no such threat exists with regular soft drinks or with less frequent consumption of diet soda. These results come from a study including more than 2,500 adults published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on January 30, 2012. So far, no one knows what it is about diet sodas that could explain the added risk.
•Kidney Trouble: In 2009, researchers at Harvard found that drinking two or more diet sodas daily could lead to a 30 percent drop in a measure of kidney function in women. No accelerated decline was seen in women who drank less than two diet sodas daily. The drop held true even after the researchers accounted for age, high blood pressure, diabetes and physical activity.
Read more facts about diet soda.

•Preterm Delivery: A Danish study including more than 59,000 women found a link between drinking one or more diet sodas daily and a 38 percent increase in the risk of giving birth to preterm babies; the risk was 78 percent higher among pregnant women who drank four or more diet sodas daily. No such risk was seen with regular soda.
•Weight Gain: Wouldn’t it be ironic if instead of helping you lose weight, diet sodas had the opposite effect? A study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that compared to those who drank no diet sodas, study participants who did had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference; worse, drinking two or more diet sodas daily led to ballooning waist circumference that was 500 percent greater than those who drank none. This doesn’t prove that diet soda is to blame since the study was observational – it could be that participants began gaining weight and then started drinking diet sodas.