The Confused Dieter's Questions Answered Once And For All
Are all calories equal? Is breakfast a must? Are carbs the enemy? Wonder no more. The experts* speak.

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.
* Sources: James O. Hill, PhD, co-founder 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; The Journal of the American Medical Association.


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