Are all calories equal? Is breakfast a must? Are carbs the enemy? Wonder no more. The experts speak.
Our experts include: James O. Hill, PhD, cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry; Miriam Nelson, PhD, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University; David L. Katz, MD, head of the Yale University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center; Obesity Research; Institute of Medicine; and The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Q: Are all calories created equal? Do 50 calories of Godiva [chocolate] cause the same weight gain as 50 calories of grapefruit? A: Yes, although the fruit calories might be more filling.
Q: Can you get addicted to carbohydrates? A: There's no hard science to prove it.
Q: Does it matter what time you eat? A: No. If you're looking at 2,000 calories over a 24-hour period, it doesn't matter what the clock says when you swallow them. But the evening hours have a way of tempting many people to overeat.
Q: Are four, five, or six small meals better than three big ones? A: There may be a hint of a weight loss advantage to the nibble-and-nosh mode for some people. Preempting hunger also helps avoid unplanned food sprees.
Q: Does eating breakfast really help you diet? A: Yes, according to a study of almost 3,000 successful dieters in the National Weight Control Registry—not because it helps you eat less during the day, but because it tends to make you a little more active.
Q: How much exercise do you have to do to lose weight and keep it off? A: One hour a day of moderate activity, like jogging four to five miles. Sorry, but you said you wanted to know.
Q: Is it true that a longer, easier aerobic workout burns more fat than a shorter burst of heart-pumping exercise? A: It's all in the math. Whichever workout burns more calories is the one that burns more fat. You have to stroll a lot longer at a leisurely pace to come close to the calorie expenditure of a quick sprint—then again, it's easier to keep walking.
Q: Why are those last five to 10 pounds so hard to lose? A: Weight loss is like blackjack—the cards are stacked against you. As you get lighter, your metabolism becomes slower. And maybe there's a good reason those last pounds are holding on for dear life: Maybe you really don't need to get rid of them.