It’s a no-brainer that diet and exercise are both crucial to your well-being and your waistline. And that generally adhering to recommended guidelines (like getting regular doses of aerobic activity and resistance training, filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and eating lean protein) is the best way to optimize your health overall. But what if you want to achieve something specific—to drop a dress size, say, or stave off heart disease? Research shows that, in certain cases, focusing on one over the other will give you better, faster results. Real Simple asked experts to consider five common goals. Here are their verdicts.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for your body. Your red blood cells and most parts of your brain derive all of their energy from carbohydrates. An adequate consumption of carbohydrates also allows your body to use protein and fat for their necessary requirements, it prevents ketosis, it provides fiber, and it's the source of sweetness in your foods.

Eating a healthy diet and staying active is important for everyone. For people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), prediabetes, and obesity, food and exercise plays an even greater role in managing day-to-day health. Despite all the popular articles and books, the research on nutrition, exercise, and obesity is very complex, and there is still a lot we don’t know.

“Don't like eating meat?” asks Ginger Hultin, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Seattle and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then don't be paleo! Travel a lot and rely on eating out? The DASH diet may end in frustration for you.” The bottom line: The diet you choose needs to be safe and effective, while taking into account your lifestyle.
In addition, watching your weight may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer. According to a study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease compared with men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. And obese men with local or regional disease have nearly four times the risk of their cancer metastasizing, or spreading.
That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”
While we've all heard that running shoes break down after logging lots of miles (about 300 to 350), you may still be holding on to your fave pair. (They fit just right! They're so cushy!) Not a good idea. "Glue has a tendency to break down under ultraviolet light, as do the other materials that make up the shoe," says Andrew Kastor. So even if your sneaks have only 150 miles on them but are more than two years old, recycle them (try oneworldrunning.com or recycledrunners.com), because chances are they've already started deteriorating. And as a rule of thumb, always keep tabs on how many miles you've logged on them—tedious, but hey, you'll be proud of how far you've gone.
About 20% of children on the ketogenic diet achieve freedom from seizures, and many are able to reduce the use of anticonvulsant drugs or eliminate them altogether.[18] Commonly, at around two years on the diet, or after six months of being seizure-free, the diet may be gradually discontinued over two or three months. This is done by lowering the ketogenic ratio until urinary ketosis is no longer detected, and then lifting all calorie restrictions.[46] This timing and method of discontinuation mimics that of anticonvulsant drug therapy in children, where the child has become seizure-free. When the diet is required to treat certain metabolic diseases, the duration will be longer. The total diet duration is up to the treating ketogenic diet team and parents; durations up to 12 years have been studied and found beneficial.[9]
The end is here! Three cheers for all your hard work. But that doesn't mean it's time to put on the brakes. To maintain your weight, you still have to make those smart choices at restaurants, work, and home. Look into getting a diet confidante, who you can chat with once a week about your eating highs and oh-no's. And stick to using that scale so you can be proactive if a few extra pounds creep back on. Don't let your exercise routine change, either, because even if you don't have any more pounds to lose, you'll still be working out your ticker. And we heart that!

Becky Duffett is a contributing nutrition editor for Fitbit and a lifestyle writer with a passion for eating well. A former Williams-Sonoma cookbook editor and graduate of San Francisco Cooking School, she’s edited dozens of cookbooks and countless recipes. City living has turned her into a spin addict—but she’d still rather be riding a horse. She lives in the cutest neighborhood in San Francisco, spending weekends at the farmers’ market, trying to read at the bakery, and roasting big dinners for friends.
Trans fat has been found to be the most dangerous for our health. It's so dangerous that the guidelines are not to consume any in your diet. Recently, trans fat has been added to the food labels so that you can now determine if there is any present in the food. The one limitation is that you will only see foods with over 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving list any trans fat on their label. This means that if the serving size is two cookies and there is .4 grams of trans fat in two cookies, the trans fat content will be listed as 0 grams. However, if you eat eight cookies, you will actually be consuming 1.6 grams of trans fat. The way to determine if there is any trans fat present is to read the list of ingredients and look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.
After a grueling workout, there's a good chance you're going to be feeling it (we're talking sore thighs, tight calves). Relieve post-fitness aches by submerging your lower body in a cold bath (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit; you may have to throw some ice cubes in to get it cold enough) for 10 to 15 minutes. "Many top athletes use this trick to help reduce soreness after training sessions," says Andrew Kastor. And advice we love: "An athlete training for an important race should consider getting one to two massages per month to help aid in training recovery," adds Kastor. Now that's speaking our language!
A computer program such as KetoCalculator may be used to help generate recipes.[47] The meals often have four components: heavy whipping cream, a protein-rich food (typically meat), a fruit or vegetable and a fat such as butter, vegetable oil, or mayonnaise. Only low-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables are allowed, which excludes bananas, potatoes, peas, and corn. Suitable fruits are divided into two groups based on the amount of carbohydrate they contain, and vegetables are similarly divided into two groups. Foods within each of these four groups may be freely substituted to allow for variation without needing to recalculate portion sizes. For example, cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green beans are all equivalent. Fresh, canned, or frozen foods are equivalent, but raw and cooked vegetables differ, and processed foods are an additional complication. Parents are required to be precise when measuring food quantities on an electronic scale accurate to 1 g. The child must eat the whole meal and cannot have extra portions; any snacks must be incorporated into the meal plan. A small amount of MCT oil may be used to help with constipation or to increase ketosis.[37]
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”
Folate: This vitamin became a mandatory addition to certain foods due to its role in producing and maintaining new cells. The folate fortification project was implemented for the protection of developing fetuses. A folate deficiency in a woman who is pregnant can cause neural tube defects that result in malformations of the spine (spina bifida), skull, and brain (anencephaly). Since the fortification of foods with folate began, the incidence of these defects has declined. Dietary sources of folate are fortified cereals, beef liver, pinto beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, avocados, and broccoli.
The food guides have been separating food into food groups for nearly a century. The current Food Guide Pyramid still emphasizes eating a balanced diet with foods from each of the food groups, but with today's version of the plan, you can get a personalized plan instead of just general recommendations. This is everyone's chance to learn how to eat a well-balanced diet.
To get the most benefit from the Keto diet, you should stay physically active. You might need to take it easier during the early ketosis period, especially if you feel fatigued or lightheaded. Walking, running, doing aerobics, weightlifting, training with kettlebells or whatever workout you prefer will boost your energy further. You can find books and online resources on how to adapt Keto meals or snacks for athletic training.
Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including regular exercise. When it comes to eating foods to fuel your exercise performance, it’s not as simple as choosing vegetables over doughnuts. You need to get the right types of food at the right times of the day. Learn about the importance of healthy breakfasts, workout snacks, and meal plans.
“For Chris Pratt, it’s a non-issue,” Bonci says, but for non-celebrities, all that fresh produce can be pricey. It can be wonderful to participate in a bonding activity with your congregation, she says, but she worries that participants might feel pressured into adopting a diet that doesn’t fit their budget. And while the rules provide a rough guideline, followers should be careful to consume enough protein and maintain a balanced diet.
The ketone bodies are possibly anticonvulsant; in animal models, acetoacetate and acetone protect against seizures. The ketogenic diet results in adaptive changes to brain energy metabolism that increase the energy reserves; ketone bodies are a more efficient fuel than glucose, and the number of mitochondria is increased. This may help the neurons to remain stable in the face of increased energy demand during a seizure, and may confer a neuroprotective effect.[56]
Whether or not you need specialty bars and other packaged goods formulated with probiotics is another matter. “Science has not shown that probiotics improve general health,” says Dr. Shira Doron, infectious diseases physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center. “Certain diseases and conditions have been studied, with varying results, some of which suggest that probiotics can mitigate symptoms. If you’re taking a probiotic for a specific condition, it is critically important that you use the same strain, formulation and dose that were shown to be effective in clinical trials; otherwise you cannot assume you will experience the same positive effect,” she explains.
Normal dietary fat contains mostly long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are more ketogenic than LCTs because they generate more ketones per unit of energy when metabolised. Their use allows for a diet with a lower proportion of fat and a greater proportion of protein and carbohydrate,[18] leading to more food choices and larger portion sizes.[4] The original MCT diet developed by Peter Huttenlocher in the 1970s derived 60% of its calories from MCT oil.[15] Consuming that quantity of MCT oil caused abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting in some children. A figure of 45% is regarded as a balance between achieving good ketosis and minimising gastrointestinal complaints. The classical and modified MCT ketogenic diets are equally effective and differences in tolerability are not statistically significant.[9] The MCT diet is less popular in the United States; MCT oil is more expensive than other dietary fats and is not covered by insurance companies.[18]
A love/hate relationship with weight loss emerged in 2018. The most recent Centers for Disease Control survey found that almost 50 percent of Americans tried to lose weight in the past year—a time when anti-diet sentiment was just as strong. As you can see from popular search terms, we’re clearly not ready to ditch dieting just yet, and that’s okay. Though the word “diet” puts some people off, reaching a healthier weight to feel better, manage your health with fewer medications, or to experience more energy, better sleep, and more confidence are worthwhile goals to pursue. Clearly, I discourage restrictive eating, but if you want to follow a plan that’s more inclusive than exclusive, includes generous servings of veggies, and helps you develop a framework for establishing sustainable, healthier eating habits that also encourages weight loss, I’m not going to knock it.
Because the diet isn’t as restrictive as a traditional vegan or vegetarian diet, it may be simpler to stick with — hence its No. 2 ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s Easiest Diets to Follow category. Because you’ll be eating meat some of the time, you may also be at a lower risk of the aforementioned nutrient deficiencies that vegetarians and vegans may face.
The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
All of the men and women in the study were sedentary when they started the study, and while they showed signs of cognitive decline, they did not have dementia. They also had at least one heart-disease related risk factor. Researchers know that heart health, and how well blood circulates throughout the body and brain, is important to maintaining cognitive skills, since the brain relies on oxygen–rich blood to fuel its activities.
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”

Your body does not store protein the way that it stores carbohydrates and fats. This means that your diet is the critical source for this essential nutrient. More is not better, so there is no need to go above the recommendations. In fact, research has shown that very high protein diets can lead to increased calcium loss and weakened bones. Be sure to add a protein source to each meal to curb your hunger and keep you healthy.

Along with protein and good-for-you fat, fiber is one of those nutrition elements that keeps you full and fueled all day long. And if you’re trying to get fit and shed pounds, fiber is your best friend. In fact, in one an American Heart Association study, participants who consuming 30 grams of fiber a day ended up losing weight and improving their heart health. So when it comes to staying healthy and slim, aim for that 30 gram fiber goal!

You know when you’re out spending money and a few dollars here or there seems like no big deal? Then you get your credit card statement and the sum total of your big-spender ways is painfully apparent? That’s how it is with calories, fat, sodium and other nutritional information, but this stuff is far more difficult to itemize and track than dollars and cents. The end result is that we eat way more than we need to... even when dieting.
HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the placenta after implantation, and doctors sometimes prescribe it for fertility issues. But this hormone has also gained popularity as a weight-loss supplement — and using it as such can be dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against purchasing over-the-counter hCG, as these supplement products are illegal. (34)
At the same time, Turoff tells her clients to proceed with caution when you have a green juice because it is not as satisfying as eating your vegetables due to the lack of fiber. “A big salad will be a lot more filling,” she says. If you do have a green juice, check the ingredient list to make sure it’s not loaded with fruit, which can send the drink’s sugar count soaring, she notes.

Swanson, a professor of neurology who has researched the impacts of ketogenic diets on inflammation in the brain, got curious about the ketogenic diet when trying to treat the inflammation that persists for days after a person suffers a stroke. When he tried inducing a ketogenic state in mice with stroke injuries, he said, “I was overwhelmed by the effect.” Blocking glucose metabolism worked to suppress inflammatory genes, which in turn helped stroke healing.
A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed, 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort, 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases, and 16% had never prescribed the diet. Several possible explanations exist for this gap between evidence and clinical practice.[34] One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.[31]
Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
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