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What's Your Nutrition IQ?

Getting the facts about food can help you lose weight.

. True or false? Weekly weigh-ins are optional during weight loss or maintenance.

False. It's essential that you weigh in once a week, whether you're trying to lose or maintain your weight, for a number of reasons. You can't accurately judge your weight by how your clothes fit. Checking in weekly, at the same time of day and in the same clothes, gives you a more realistic comparison from week to week. And a weekly weigh-in can be extremely motivating when you keep seeing the needle go down!

I recommend weighing in on Monday mornings, after you empty your bladder, in your night clothes. That way, if you find yourself up a few pounds, you'll know you need to pump it up a notch during the coming week.

On the other hand, those scale-obsessed folks who check their weight several times a day need to stop driving themselves crazy. Weight normally fluctuates a bit, because of things like how well-hydrated you are, or where you are in your monthly cycle.

8. True or false? Drinking lots of water helps speed weight loss.

False. I really wish this one was true. Even though water is good for you and you need about eight glasses per day for proper hydration, it does not speed up weight loss. Water and fluids satisfy thirst, but aren't likely to quell real hunger pangs for more than a few minutes.

It is a good idea to drink a glass of water before eating to make sure you're not mistaking thirst for hunger. Starting or finishing a meal with a large glass of water can also help you recognize fullness more quickly, and reduce the temptation to reach for second helpings. And some research shows that foods high in fluids, such as soup, can also help dieters eat less.

So while water is no magic bullet, by all means, keep on drinking water, enjoy a bowl of hearty soup, and do your best to let water work to help you lose weight.

9. True or false? A calorie is a measurement of heat.

True. It sounds like a trick question, but it's correct. Much like an inch is a measurement of length, a calorie is a measurement of heat energy. A calorie is technically a "kilocalorie" and is defined as "the amount of heat need to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree centigrade."

The calories in the food you eat reflect the amount of energy food supplies to fuel your physical and bodily activities. Every muscle you move, every heartbeat, every growing nail requires energy, and all this energy comes from the calories in food and beverages. Food and calories are the gas in the tank that makes the body engine go.

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