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Dietitian Picks 8 Favorite Diet Books

WebMD Director of Nutrition Kathleen Zelman recommends these diet books for healthy, lasting weight loss.

May 5, 2006 -- The dreaded swimsuit season is upon us, and believe it or not, the call to action to lose weight is greater at this time of year than the annual promise to improve your diet and exercise on New Year's Day. So what's the best diet to help you lose weight in time to reveal the "new you" this summer?

There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to losing weight. The best diet programs include plenty of food to ward off hunger, all food groups, promote regular physical activity, and allow small portions of favorite foods. Beyond the basics, it really depends on what type of diet plan matches your lifestyle and is sustainable for life. Don't think of diets as beginning and ending; rather, the best plans are journeys toward improved health that help you improve your eating and exercise habits.

Before I get to my favorite diet books, I have to confess my bias about diets in general -- they all work. Losing weight is really quite simple: eat fewer calories than you burn and you will shed pounds. So whether you eliminate whole food groups, go on a crazy fad diet, or live on cabbage soup, you will lose weight.

The problem is most diets suggest radical changes from usual dietary habits, and as a result, dieters only last a few weeks to months before throwing in the towel and returning to their old eating habits. Being ravenous all the time, spending an hour a day at the gym, or feeling deprived of favorite foods are triggers that put an end to conventional diets.

What Works?

It is not sexy, and to some it borders on utterly boring, but the real secret to weight loss is making slow and gradual changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors. Experts recommend trimming 500 calories a day by reducing calories and increasing exercise to result in a 1-2 pound weekly weight loss. Holding the mayo on your sandwich, eating a side salad instead of french fries at lunch, walking 45 minutes, reducing portion sizes, and piling on the veggies at dinner are examples of simple ways to trim 500 calories in a day.

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