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Keep the Weight Off

Avoid Common Diet Traps That Cause People to Regain Weight
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Take it off. And now that you've got it off, keep it off. The first part is easy. The second sometimes seems nearly impossible.

Yes, this is about those extra pounds. You know the ones. You lost them last year, and the year before that. Yet they come back year after year like reruns of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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Last year you tried the latest miracle diet. You bought that hot new diet book right off the best-seller shelf. And maybe the pounds didn't exactly melt away as promised, but at first you did lose weight. Then the weight loss slowed down. The fad diet didn't seem so new any more; the special diet food packs were expensive; the new diet just didn't feel healthy; you nibbled a few sweets and felt too guilty to continue.

You aren't alone. For every 20 dieters who lose weight, only one keeps the weight off. Don't despair -- you can beat those odds.

 

Diet Traps

The U.S. FDA says most people trying to lose weight fall into diet traps. The diets promise quick and easy answers. The diet industry makes $30 billion a year by telling people what they want to hear: that modern science has at last discovered effortless ways to lose weight.

Here are some common diet traps:

  • Eat all you want and still lose weight. Sounds too good to be true, right? It is. The laws of physics still apply. Your extra weight is energy stored up as fat. To lose weight, more energy has to come out than goes in. Energy is measured in calories. When you move your body, you burn calories. When you eat or drink anything other than water, you take in calories. If you burn more than you take in, you lose weight.
  • I have to starve myself to lose weight. Very low-calorie diets are dangerous. This should be done only with medical supervision, and only when there is a medical need to lose a lot of weight as fast as possible. Gradual weight loss is much healthier -- and much easier.
  • I have to diet to lose weight. One diet after another isn't the answer. A consistent plan for a healthier lifestyle lays the groundwork for lasting weight loss.
  • A fad diet worked for my friend. We all know someone who went on a diet and swears by it. These diets rarely work for long. A sudden change in your eating habits can lead to a pattern of quick weight loss followed by rebound weight gain once you go back to a normal diet.
  • Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks! Early weight loss from fad diets is usually from water loss. The bathroom scale may show that you lost weight, but it is not fat weight. Most experts say that losing a pound a week is an excellent goal. This means eating 500 fewer calories a day. This can be done by learning -- and practicing -- healthy eating habits.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

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or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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