Obesity can lead to some of the most preventable causes of death including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus, weight-loss programs have become a multi-million dollar industry and each one has a different method for taking off the pounds. The fact remains, however, that for most people the secret is simply to expend more calories than they take in. Choosing the right foods is important, too.
Fatty Foods That Can Make You Skinny
Fatty foods used to be the bad boys of weight loss, but current research proves that including fat in a weight-loss nutrition plan is essential for success. People who avoid fat altogether cut out the bad ones such as saturated and trans fats; but they also eliminate the healthy ones—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Government nutrition experts say that total fat intake should comprise 20 to 35 percent of the total daily calories for healthy adults over age 19 (kids ages 4 to 18 should aim for 25 to 35 percent). People who are trying to lose weight should aim for the low end of the fat percentage in their total daily calorie intake. For instance, someone aiming for 1,800 calories each day should take in about 50 grams of fat. Many foods that were once considered weight-loss pariahs can be incorporated.
- Avocados: Compared to most vegetables, avocados are very high in fat—about 14 grams are in one avocado (one cup of broccoli, for instance, has less than one gram). Most of the fat is monounsaturated, a type that can lower LDL (harmful) cholesterol and thus decrease the risk of heart disease.
* Dieting tip: Add some sliced avocado to a salad to make it more filling.
- Coconuts: Unlike most plant-based fats, these tropical fruits contain some saturated fat. They also, however, have a type of fat (called medium-chain fatty acids) that is not stored in the body’s fat tissues. Coconut oil itself is available to buy, and some people believe in it for weight loss—some studies show that it can help to reduce waist size, although not necessarily overall pounds. Nutritionists caution against using too much coconut oil mainly because of the saturated fat.
* Dieting tip: Sprinkle shredded coconut on a low-fat, sugar-free dessert.
- Dark chocolate: This yummy treat has three main types of fats. The oleic acid in cocoa butter is monounsaturated. The stearic and palmitic acids are saturated, but they have been shown in some studies to have less of an effect on cholesterol than saturated fats from animal sources. In addition, although the information is mostly anecdotal, chocolate has been reported to make people feel happy, and positive emotions can go a long way to helping someone stay on track in their weight-loss efforts.
* Dieting tip: As a special treat, enjoy one ounce of plain dark chocolate a few times a week as a snack or dessert.
- Eggs: Whole eggs are high in fat and cholesterol, but when eaten in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet they are not harmful to your health. For weight loss, the trick is to stick to egg whites because they are a good source of protein and can be quite satisfying. But adding a yolk once in a while won’t hurt because the compounds that give them their yellow color (lutein and zeaxanthin) have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
* Dieting tip: For a substantial lunch, make an egg salad sandwich on low-fat whole-wheat bread using fat-free mayonnaise.
- Nuts: People who wanted to lose weight used to avoid nuts at all costs. But now research shows that nuts are considered part of a heart-healthy diet. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and are a good fiber source. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts each week.
* Dieting tip: For a healthy snack, spread some all-natural peanut butter on apple slices, celery or sliced bananas.
- Fatty fish: Any fish is a good protein source for dieters, but oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds may have several health benefits including prevention of heart disease and dementia-related illnesses. Some studies show that a regular diet of fatty fish may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.
* Dieting tip: Add leftover baked fish to pasta side dishes or salads.
Other Factors That Aid Weight Loss
Figuring out why those stubborn pounds stick around may require a medical expert’s input. Several medical conditions such as thyroid disease or metabolic problems can sabotage weight-loss efforts. Once underlying conditions are treated, the pounds may come off. Other ways to help:
- Add physical activity to any weight-loss plan. It helps to burn off the extra calories, build fat-burning muscle and improve mood and overall health.
- Find ways to stay motivated. Change up the routine on a regular basis and rope a buddy into a regular exercise schedule.
- Seek support if needed. There are many formal support groups for people trying to lose weight. Getting advice from others going through the same problems can help overcome obstacles.
Losing weight at first is sometimes fairly easy, and keeping it off is not as hard as it might seem. Many dieters have heard that 95 percent of people who lose weight will regain it fairly quickly. This estimate was based on a 1959 study of only 100 people, and since then this statistic has been quoted many times as the absolute truth. Obesity experts say, however, that the figure is inaccurate. One study showed that about 50 percent of people who had lost weight on their own had kept it off for a year or more, so people trying to shed pounds shouldn’t lose heart.