How to make your diet work

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS -

When it comes to los­ing weight, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you sign up for a pro­gram or try to do it on your own? What are you will­ing to give up, and what’s a deal breaker?

Con­sumer Re­ports has done the leg­work for you. It asked 9,376 peo­ple about di­ets they’ve tried, and it got the scoop on 13 pop­u­lar plans.

What did Con­sumer Re­ports find? First, be re­al­is­tic. Your own ex­pec­ta­tions play a big role in how sat­is­fied you’re likely to be with any diet you try.

Most peo­ple don’t have “Biggest Loser”-style out­comes. In the survey, only 14 per­cent of read­ers who’d fin­ished their di­ets came to within 5 pounds of their goal weight. But take com­fort in the fact that drop­ping as lit­tle as 5 to 10 per­cent of your start­ing weight can make a real dif­fer­ence in your health and well-being. If you have re­al­is­tic goals, you’re likely to feel bet­ter with the weight you lose.

To keep weight off, prac­tice first

Here’s a novel idea: Be­fore even try­ing to lose weight, prac­tice the strate­gies that can help you keep the pounds off.

Michaela Kier­nan, Ph.D., a se­nior re­search scientist at the Stan­ford Univer­sity School of Medicine, ac­tu­ally tested that idea in a clin­i­cal trial and found that it worked. Half of the over­weight women in the study got the usual treat­ment – they fol­lowed a weight-loss pro­gram for 20 weeks, then for eight weeks re­ceived stan­dard ad­vice on how to main­tain their weight loss. The other half did it in re­verse:

They got eight weeks of ad­vanced train­ing in weight main­te­nance strate­gies, then tried to lose weight.

The re­sults were stun­ning. Both groups lost the same amount of weight af­ter 28 weeks. But a year later, those in the “main­te­nance first” group had re­gained an av­er­age of only about 20 per­cent of the weight they had lost; those in the usual-treat­ment group had re­gained

an av­er­age of 43 per­cent.

Here are some of the pre-main­te­nance strate­gies Kier­nan sug­gests:

• Weigh your­self ev­ery day for sev­eral weeks to see how your weight fluc­tu­ates. Once you know your pat­tern, you won’t panic if your weight goes up by a pound or two or even three from one day to the next (which is pretty com­mon).

• Pick a tar­get 5-pound weight range that ac­counts for those fluc­tu­a­tions, and try to stay within it for sev­eral more weeks. If your weight drops to the bot­tom of

your range, you can eat a bit ex­tra to bring it back up.

• It’s not al­ways smart to set­tle for low-calo­rie ver­sions of high-calo­rie foods that make you yearn for the real thing. Try some­thing that tastes com­pletely dif­fer­ent but is still sat­is­fy­ing, such as salsa on your baked potato in­stead of sour cream.

• Learn to eat your fa­vorite high-calo­rie treats mind­fully, in mod­er­a­tion, with­out think­ing of it as a slip-up.

To learn more, visit ConsumerReports.org.

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