Still struggling to lose weight? Here are five mistakes that many people make -- and advice to help you shed pounds. Also, Click here for a calorie counter, which will tell you how much you burn when you exercise.
Sometimes the government goofs. In the late 1970s, the United States began advocating a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. In the early 1970s, the average daily energy intake was 2,450 calories. By the year 2000, that number had risen to 2,618. Almost all of those extra calories came from carbohydrates, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Do this: Eat fewer carbs. People are overeating carbohydrates, not protein and fat. So if you want to lose fat, start by cutting back on carbs. After all, ask just about any nutritionist what the main purpose of carbohydrates is and they'll say "energy." Trouble is, most people are consuming more energy than they can burn.
Imagine that the carbs you eat go into a bucket. When the bucket is full, the carbs overflow and are converted to fat. This is how it works in your body. But by eating lower carbs most of the time, your bucket is always about half full -- even if you're not as active as you'd like to be.
This not only keeps your body burning fat, but when you do eat lots of carbs -- as long as you consume them when your bucket isn't full -- they don't end up on your hips or belly.
Bonus tip: The best time to eat a high-carb meal -- even if it's high in sugar -- is right after a workout. After all, your "carb bucket" is lower than ever, since you've just burned up a bunch of calories with exercise.
Warning: Low-fat foods may make you fat. Cornell University researchers reported that when overweight men and women were told they were eating low-fat M&Ms, they consumed 47 percent more calories than those who were given regular M&Ms (the M&Ms were actually all the same). On average, low-fat foods contain 59 percent less fat, but only 15 percent fewer calories than full-fat products.
Do this: Go ahead and eat full-fat foods -- for instance, cheese, sour cream, nuts and even a nice, marbled steak. They have slightly more calories than their lower-fat counterparts, but they'll help you feel full longer after you eat. And that'll reduce the number of calories you eat at your next meal.
Keep in mind that you won't store fat if you aren't eating too many total calories. Studies show that calorie-reduced diets containing upward of 60 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those in which fat provides only 20 percent of the calories (both approaches lower risk of heart disease).
Plus, the high-fat dieters also report feeling less hungry and deprived. And just as important, they tend to automatically reduce their food intake so that they lose fat without counting calories.
Sure, you've heard this one before. But it's important: Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that people who don't eat breakfast are nearly five times more likely to be obese than those who make it an everyday habit.
That's because if you sleep for six to eight hours, and then skip breakfast, your body is running on fumes by the time you get to work. And that sends you desperately seeking sugar, which happens to be easy to find.