Ludwig notes that there has not yet been a long-term human study of diet drinks and body weight. “I have some potential concerns about the effect of diet drinks,” he says. Among other problems, artificial sweeteners may eventually sabotage weight loss by distorting the systems that keep our appetite and body weight in balance. “They may also change our taste preferences so that we seek highly sweet, processed foods and refuse to eat less sweet foods like fruits and vegetables.”
Although artificial sweeteners are safe, it doesn’t mean that they’re good for us. “Until we have more data, I don’t think we can comfortably recommend drinking a lot of diet drinks over the long term,” Ludwig says. Exercise is good for your heart, blood pressure, and mood, but when it comes to losing weight, cutting calories wins hands down. Exercise is important role to prevent regaining weight after you’ve lost those unwanted pounds.
“When you exercise in an effort to lose weight, you make yourself hungrier and compensate for it by eating more,” says Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. “To lose weight, it’s more important to control the number of calories you eat rather than to try to burn calories after overeating.”
“Weight control begins with the brain,” says William Sears, M.D., of the University of California, Irvine, author of Prime-Time Health. “Tell yourself you have to do this.”
Or, better yet, fool yourself into losing weight by using these 10 easy strategies.
Any Way You Slice It
Calories do count when it comes to controlling weight. Shaving just 100 calories from what you eat each day can add up to a 10-pound weight loss in a year, notes Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. Look for the food you won’t even notice is gone. Half a bagel? A slice of bread? A piece of cheese? A cookie? Do without those extra few calories each day until it becomes a habit; the reading on your scale will reward you.
Downsizing Pays Off
To whittle away your waistline, try downsizing your dinner plates. The size of dinner plates and the amount of food they hold has steadily increased over the years. Not too long ago, dinner at home came on a modest 10-inch plate. Today you’re apt to find one that measures a beefy 12 inches. The standard restaurant dinner plate used to be 10 1/2 inches; now you can find them as large as 12 1/2 inches.
Use a smaller plate for dinner at home—you’ll eat less but your plate will seem full.