These types of back-and-forth weight fluctuations can contribute to disordered eating, Kizer says, or can worsen an already unhealthy relationship with food. “I think this diet appeals to people who have issues with portion control and with binge eating,” she says. "And in many cases, what they really need is a lifestyle coach or a professional counselor to help them get to the bottom of those issues."
Probiotics may be linked to less serious side effects, too. One recent study among 30 people linked probiotics to potential brain fog and GI distress. “Rarely, some people experience side effects from taking a certain probiotic so I recommend they try a different one,” suggests Dr. Raj. As for those new products hitting shelves, Dr. Raj recommends sticking with reputable brands so you know that the probiotics being advertised on the label are actually going to end up in your body.
It’s a no-brainer that diet and exercise are both crucial to your well-being and your waistline. And that generally adhering to recommended guidelines (like getting regular doses of aerobic activity and resistance training, filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and eating lean protein) is the best way to optimize your health overall. But what if you want to achieve something specific—to drop a dress size, say, or stave off heart disease? Research shows that, in certain cases, focusing on one over the other will give you better, faster results. Real Simple asked experts to consider five common goals. Here are their verdicts.
Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
You know when you’re out spending money and a few dollars here or there seems like no big deal? Then you get your credit card statement and the sum total of your big-spender ways is painfully apparent? That’s how it is with calories, fat, sodium and other nutritional information, but this stuff is far more difficult to itemize and track than dollars and cents. The end result is that we eat way more than we need to... even when dieting.
Take action: Aerobic exercise has always been regarded as critical to improving brain health, but strength training is also key. In fact, the two modes of exercise benefit the brain differently, which is why it’s best to do both. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Aging Research, the authors found that both cardio exercise and strength training improved spatial memory (for example, remembering where objects were placed in a room) in women ages 70 to 80. Cardio alone improved verbal memory (for example, being able to remember a list of words after a distraction). And in a 2012 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, women in their 70s who strength-trained improved their associative memory, meaning that they remembered pairs of pictures that they had been shown earlier. This is the kind of memory that allows you to remember two pieces of information at once, like picturing not just your keys but also where you placed them.
It's true that it's much easier (and some would argue it's also more fun) to devour a significant number of calories that would be very difficult or maybe even possible to burn off through exercise. For example, let's take a hypothetical huge holiday cheat for example, where a person has consumed upwards of 7000 calories. How likely is it that they have the endurance or the time (or will) to burn off that many calories? This even rings true on a much less dramatic, day-by-day example, if you eat lousily and over your maintenance calories by 400 calories a day, for example. Eventually, it adds up to weight gain.
The ketogenic diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in half of the patients who try it and by more than 90% in a third of patients. Three-quarters of children who respond do so within two weeks, though experts recommend a trial of at least three months before assuming it has been ineffective. Children with refractory epilepsy are more likely to benefit from the ketogenic diet than from trying another anticonvulsant drug. Some evidence indicates that adolescents and adults may also benefit from the diet.
This principle involves eating low-energy-dense foods and can help you lose weight by feeling full on fewer calories. Healthy choices in each of the other food groups in moderate amounts make up the rest of the pyramid — including whole-grain carbohydrates, lean sources of protein such as legumes, fish and low-fat dairy, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
Excess body fat promotes insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it effectively—leading the body to produce even more insulin. A hormone that helps control blood sugar, insulin is a potent stimulator of prostate cancer growth. By cutting calories and increasing exercise, you may be able to reduce excess body fat, preventing or overcoming insulin resistance and limiting the amount of insulin your body produces. Also, exercising and building muscle mass help control blood sugar, lowering your need for and production of insulin.
By now you’re probably tired of hearing how breakfast is the most important meal of the day—but this tired piece of advice couldn’t be more true! In one study completed at the Imperial College of London, participants who skipped breakfast were more tempted to reach for unhealthy, high-calorie foods later in the day. And in case you need more evidence to eat that a.m. meal, further research found that women had a larger drop in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) when they ate a hearty breakfast versus a small one.
Eating a healthy diet and staying active is important for everyone. For people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), prediabetes, and obesity, food and exercise plays an even greater role in managing day-to-day health. Despite all the popular articles and books, the research on nutrition, exercise, and obesity is very complex, and there is still a lot we don’t know.
The next time you want to grab a fattening snack, reach for some sugar-free gum instead. Chewing some types of gum gives you fresh breath and can also help manage hunger, control snack cravings, and aid in weight loss. (Keep in mind, however, that excess sorbitol, a sugar alcohol sometimes used in low calorie gums, can have an laxative effect in some people.) Although gum might make you eat less, it doesn't mean you can stop eating right. A good diet and exercise are still important.