We asked three of the nation's top obesity scientists to give us their best (and totally healthy) two-week, highly motivating regimen.
We all know crash diets are bad news, replays of those fifties-era grapefruit regimens that only ended up boomeranging, causing you to add back more weight than you lost. And yet there's no better incentive for a long-term weight-loss effort than dropping a few pounds right off the bat.
Question: Are all calories created equal (i.e., do 50 calories of Godiva cause the same weight gain as 50 calories of grapefruit)? Answer: 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. (Well, 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: Which diet works better: low carb / high fat or high carb / low fat? A: The most recent review of more than 100 studies on low-carb diets found no difference when compared to high-carb diets. Some people don't feel as ravenous on one or the other, but in the end it boils down to the calories: Less is more (fewer calories mean more weight loss).
Q: Why are those last five to ten pounds so hard to lose? A: Weight loss is like blackjack—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. Help Kick-Start Your Diet What's it going to take to get your diet moving? According to health experts, a good two-week regimen could be just the answer you're looking for. Use these low-calorie menus to get the right nutrition and start counting down the pounds!