America's Healthy Summer: Do Summer Dieters Have Greater Chance of Weight Loss Success?

America's Healthy Summer: Do summer dieters have greater chance of success?

June 6, 2010, 7:39 PM

June 7, 2010 — -- Millions of Americans made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, but many have already given up, finding it too hard to achieve their weight loss goals.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a physician, author and television show host, appeared on "Good Morning America" today to suggest a novel approach: dieting in the summer.

Many people diet so they'll be in shape for the summer. Oz said people would be better off dieting in the summer because they'll have a better chance of success.

He explained why on the show:

Q: Why is it easier to diet in the summer?

A: Sunlight may help weight loss by increasing serotonin levels. That's one way doctors treat the depression of seasonal affective disorder, Oz said. Increased levels of serotonin reduce some people's need to eat, especially if the cravings are for comfort foods, he said. Additionally, many people tend to eat less in hot temperatures. The biggest dieting advantage of the summer is the ability to stay outdoors longer, he said, encouraging people to find a neighborhood park or do some other outdoor activity.

Q: Is it easier to eat better when it's not cold?

A: It's easier to eat better in summer because there's an abundance of seasonal, fat-burning foods that are relatively low-priced. For example, okra (an important source of vitamin B6 and folic acid), cucumbers (a good source of silica, which is good for the skin), peaches, (a good source of fiber), and asparagus and broccoli (which are full of hunger-satisfying protein), are all readily available, Oz said. He pointed out that the body measures nutrients and not calories. That means that people who are eating the correct nutrients won't be as hungry.

Q: What are some great summer staples?

A: Oz suggested the following summer foods. Each costs 80 cents or less per cup:

Q: Is it true that grapefruit can really help someone to lose weight?

A: Grapefruit is a very good source of vitamin C, and research has revealed that vitamin C helps the body process fat faster, Oz said. Any source of vitamin C – such as citrus or bell peppers -- will work to burn fat, he said.

Those people who prefer grapefruit should be aware that it does interact with certain medications, so they should check with their doctors to make sure they can continue to take that medication if they eat grapefruit, Oz said.

Q: Does watermelon also work?

A: Watermelon is a tasty, inexpensive fruit that has one of the lowest levels of pesticide residue, Oz noted. One good way to eat it is in watermelon soup. Soup has a low energy density, since it contains a lot of water. That means you get fewer calories for the same weight of food. You'll fuller faster and eat fewer calories later, which means your body will burn through stored fat, he said.

Click HERE for a recipe for watermelon gazpacho.

Q: How can our surroundings help make or break a diet?

A: It's important to take advantage of summer light, Oz said. Try to eat outside or with your windows open. Research shows that people who eat in dim light linger over their food more, and that can lead to overeating.

Another thing about the environment in the summer is the decorative touch in the home. People like to put flowers on a table in the summer, but a better option would be to place a bowl of fruit on the table instead, Oz said. A study from the Smell and Taste Foundation in Chicago found that overweight people who sniffed fruit before a meal lost an average of 5 pounds per month, while those who sniffed flowers before a meal tended to eat more, he said.

Q: Can food containers also affect how much people eat?

A: Yes. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that women ate 71 percent more from transparent containers than they did from opaque ones, because seeing the food is tempting, Oz said. He advised that people choose ceramic over transparent glass dishes and remove the serving dishes from the table once everyone has been served.

Click HERE to get the skinny on some of the most popular dieting trends.

Click HERE to visit the OnCall+ Wellness Center for more expert advice on nutrition and fitness.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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