6 Foods That May Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals—And What to Eat Instead

[brightcove:5599232558001 default] If you’ve ever tried to shed excess pounds, you know that losing weight can be a complicated (and frustrating) process. Not all foods—or calories, for that matter—are created equal, and just as some foods can expedite your weight loss journey, others can derail it quickly. Here, three health experts explain which types of … Continue reading “6 Foods That May Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals—And What to Eat Instead”

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If you’ve ever tried to shed excess pounds, you know that losing weight can be a complicated (and frustrating) process. Not all foods—or calories, for that matter—are created equal, and just as some foods can expedite your weight loss journey, others can derail it quickly.

Here, three health experts explain which types of foods fall into the latter category—and what you should eat instead.

Foods with emulsifiers

Why they are harmful: Many processed foods, like ice cream, mayonnaise, margarine, chocolate, bakery products, and sausages, contain emulsifiers, which are chemicals that help blend together ingredients that would not naturally mix well together (e.g. oil and water), explains NYC-based registered nurse Rebecca Lee. Emulsifiers also make food look appealing, keep it fresh, and prevent molding. That may all sound harmless, but a study on mice found that consumption of these chemicals may do a number on your body by altering gut bacteria, triggering inflammation and increasing the risk of obesity and heart disease.

Check labels carefully to see if the food you’re consuming contains emulsifiers. Common emulsifiers include: lecithins, mono- and di-glycerides, polyglycerol ester, sorbitan ester, PG ester, and sugar ester.

What to eat instead: Where possible, opt for unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Foods with MSG

Why they are harmful: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a highly addictive flavor-enhancer commonly used in fast food (like Chick-fil-A and Kentucky Fried Chicken), Chinese takeout, ramen noodles, canned foods, processed meats, and numerous other prepackaged foods, explains Lee.

Regular consumption of MSG-laden foods is linked to weight gain, as well as many other health issues. A study of 750 Chinese men and women found that those who used the most MSG in their cooking were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than those who didn’t use any, she explains. Even scarier, the increase in obesity risk was independent of physical activity and total calories consumed.

Other MSG-linked conditions include fibromyalgia, fatty liver and liver toxicity, high blood sugars, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, neurological brain disorders, digestive disorders, and metabolic syndrome, says Lee.

MSG can be disguised by more than 40 different names, explains Lee. Key terms that may denote its presence: glutamate, anything “hydrolyzed”, yeast extract, gelatin, soy protein, soy or whey protein, soy sauce, anything "…protein", and calcium or sodium caseinate. MSG is hard to avoid because the FDA requires it to be listed on the label only if it’s used as a main ingredient, and not if it’s used only as a processing agent, which is a very common practice, explains Lee.

What to eat instead: Seek out foods that are minimally processed and seasoned with simple spices. Even better, flavor your meals with chile peppers for an extra metabolic boost. (Numerous studies suggest that capsaicin, the compound in chile peppers that gives them their heat, also raises metabolism).

RELATED: 5 Foods to Rev Up Your Metabolism

Artificial sweeteners

Why they are harmful: Many people use zero-calorie sugar substitutes as a weight-loss tool, but these sweeteners may actually have the opposite effect, says Lee. In a mice study, those who were fed artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose or aspartame developed glucose intolerance, a metabolic condition associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. “The artificial sweeteners altered the animals’ gut microbiomes towards a balance of bacteria associated with metabolic diseases,” says Lee. What’s more, in a follow-up study on 7 human volunteers, 4 became glucose intolerant after consuming the maximum recommended dose of saccharin for just one week.

What to eat instead: Consuming too much regular added sugar isn’t good for you either, so satisfy your sweet cravings the natural way with whole fruits, cinnamon, nut butters, or sweet potatoes.

RELATED: What’s Better? Sugar-Free, No Added Sugar or Unsweetened

Refined carbs

Why they are harmful: Eating a diet high in refined carbs (think: pasta, bread, sweets) will cause a surge in blood sugar, which will trigger your pancreas to produce insulin to help clear the sugar from your blood, explains New Jersey-based registered dietitian Jeanette Kimszal. That translates into your body digesting and absorbing food more rapidly, which can cause energy crashes later on and damage your metabolism in the long term.

What to eat instead: Reach for complex carbohydrates consisting of whole grains and vegetables, like quinoa or spaghetti squash. “They contain fiber, which will slow digestion and keep your metabolism in check,” explains Kimszal. “Look for whole grain products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and do not contain the words ‘enriched’ on the package.”

Low-fat products

Why they are harmful: Most of us tend to assume that foods labeled ‘low-fat’ are good for weight loss, which in theory makes sense, given the fact that gram for gram, fat has twice as many calories as proteins and carbs. But in a study published in the journal Appetite, researchers analyzed nutrition information for nearly 6,000 foods in Canada and found that, overall, products with low-fat claims were not significantly lower in calories than their full-fat equivalents. What’s more, “low-fat foods may even lead people to consume extra calories,” says Lee. A separate study investigating the effects of different fats on satiety found that participants were less hungry two hours after eating regular muffins compared to fat-free muffins.

What to eat instead: Instead of avoiding fat, rev up your metabolism by consuming good-for-you fats, like the omega-3’s found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other cold water fish.


Why it is harmful: “Because it contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soda can cause metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around waist) that occur together, increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, NYC-based registered dietitian, author of The F-Factor Diet and creator of F-Factor. Fructose, when consumed in the same quantities as other sugar, has more damaging effects on the metabolism, she adds. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that HFCS may lead to obesity because of its negative effects on the metabolism.

What to drink instead: Get your fizzy fill with Kombucha, a carbonated, fermented tea that’s loaded with probiotics, recommends Zuckerbot. Probiotics have been shown to help regulate digestion, weight and metabolism.

Source: Health bests

The Mindful Eating Hack That Helped Me Stop Obsessing About Food

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One of the main battles in overcoming overeating is to stop thinking of some foods as "good" and others as "bad." Food is nourishment and hunger is a healthy, involuntary sensation just like feeling cold or tired, the thinking goes.

But like so many people with a history of dieting, I’ve struggled with knowing when I'm truly hungry, and I've had a hard time not judging myself harshly if I pass up a so-called "good" or healthy food in favor of something I've categorized as "bad," like an indulgent dessert. That puts me in a cycle of disordered eating, one I've dealt with for much of my adult life.

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To finally address my overeating issues, I began seeing New York City psychotherapist Alexis Conason. Over two years in private and group therapy, I learned about mindful eating, which she describes as "eating what you want when you want it." Sounds so simple, but for most people, this is pretty revolutionary. We spend so much time depriving and judging ourselves, and one of the ironies of this is that even if you don’t struggle with your weight, food judgments are a constant yet ever-changing part of our culture.

Gluten, salt, animal products, sugar, carbs—we are barraged by conflicting information that flip-flops through the years. But by far the most painful to live with are the judgments we place on ourselves. Denying yourself food that your body is craving will never help you maintain a healthy weight long-term. In fact, it will almost always set you up for disordered eating, as I've learned the hard way.

Dr. Conason helped me understand why. “When we believe that our food will be restricted, we have a 'now or never' mentality, thinking this is our one opportunity to eat this food, so we should eat as much as we can in this moment because we’ll never allow ourselves to have it again,” she says. One of the many issues with this is that we will eat it again…and probably again after that. We hate ourselves not only for eating it, but for failing.

RELATED: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

Her advice to break this cycle? She recommends stocking your kitchen with as much "bad" or unhealthy food as you want—actually more than you think that you could eat at any one time—and then making sure to always keep your stash of it replenished. “When we truly believe that food won’t be restricted, the food usually loses its emotional power. Over time, we don’t feel compelled to eat all the cartons of ice cream in our freezer in one sitting because we trust that there will always ice cream in our freezer, and we can have more when we want it.”

When she suggested this to me, I thought it was bananas. The logic behind it made sense, but I didn’t trust myself remotely. If I had every “bad” food in the house at once, I would never leave, I thought. I told my husband about it though, and he thought I should try it out—and one night came home from the market with six boxes of brownie mix. 

RELATED: Here's What to Snack on if You're Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

I remember my nervous laughter that turned into a cackle when I saw those boxes of brownie mix. I have tried many things to gain control over my eating, but this had to be the craziest. Then after I stopped laughing and thought about it, I suddenly felt liberated. I think this applies to anyone, whether they’ve struggled with their weight or not: Just imagine for a minute how it would feel to be able to eat anything you wanted, as much of it, whenever you wanted. It’s an almost unthinkable circumstance for most people.

This sense of freedom turned out to be life-changing. Okay, I tore through the first few boxes in a matter of days, making and eating batches of delicious brownies. But after the second box, the idea of eating brownies somehow truly became less exciting, less seductive. I realized how I was imprisoning myself with this idea of what I could and could not eat; how making some foods off-limits gave them a power over me. The worst part was that after years of this pattern of behavior, I was still fat. It was all a waste of energy.

Conason warns that allowing yourself to have whatever you want and managing to resist consuming it all immediately is not something that happens overnight. “It’s a process—you may eat through your whole stock of ice cream the first night. This isn’t indication that you have failed or further evidence that you can’t be trusted around ice cream. It is just part of the process of recovering from diet culture," she explains.

"If we stick with it, eventually one day—maybe the following day, maybe a week from then, maybe a month from then, but at some point, we realize that we don’t want any more ice cream right now, and we can have more later and the food loses its power,” she adds. 

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It took about six months for this to happen to me, to accept that I could eat whatever I wanted and not give in to the compulsion to consume everything in one sitting. This freedom from a cycle of binging and depriving myself helped lead me to a light bulb moment: I came to realize that just because I can eat whatever I want doesn’t mean I should

The key to this is not that I should or shouldn’t eat something because of calories or watching my weight. I “should” or “shouldn’t” from a self-care perspective. Taking away the power foods had over me helped me realize that I don’t feel well after I binge eat unhealthy foods—physically or mentally. If I don't like the way I feel after consuming them, I shouldn't eat them.

RELATED: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

With this in mind, I'm now choosing my well-being over a momentary sugar rush. To be clear, sometimes I still choose the sugar high. I’m still deep in my process, as Dr. Conason calls it. But after years of viewing certain beloved foods as forbidden, I’ve been able to indulge when I want, without thinking about it obsessively beforehand or regretting it after.

Cutting myself off from foods I wanted never made me skinny—it only made me miserable. Proving to myself that I can eat whatever I want has helped me take the power back and make genuine, mindful decisions that make me feel healthy both physically and mentally.

Source: Health bests

How This Woman Lost 142 Lbs.—and Why She Shared the Journey On Social Media

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Before making the choice to have vertical gastric sleeve surgery, Jessica Adkins looked to social media.

“I searched weight loss hashtags, most specifically weight loss surgery hashtags, and I was so inspired,” says Adkins, who underwent the procedure in 2016 and has since been documenting her journey on YouTube and Instagram.

But it wasn’t just the impressive transformation photos that made an impact — it was other users’ comments. “Everyone was so positive and supportive and I knew this was a community I wanted to be a part of. I also wanted to be able to help others the way hashtags helped me,” she says.


Starting at 285 lbs., Adkins recorded her very first meeting with her bariatric doctor, kicking off her official weight loss journey. She decided to continue posting candid videos about her triumphs and struggles, and soon incorporated food product reviews as well. (She now follows a keto diet).

“A weight loss journey is about more than just the weight coming off. It’s a big mental struggle as well,” says the administrative assistant, who hit her goal weight of 150 lbs. on her 30th birthday: July 7, 2017. “I feel if I only talked about the positive parts of this, I would be doing my viewers a disservice…the biggest compliment I get is when others tell me that watching my videos helped them be more prepared for things they have encountered.”

Adkins has come a long way. She went from consuming fast food three times a day, five or six days a week, to eating a low-carb/low-sugar diet. “They say alcoholics can tell you the very day of their last drink. I can tell you the last time I had a piece of bread: August 5, 2016,” she says. “I no longer eat bread, rice, or pasta of any kind.”

She is also committed to staying active by attending fitness classes at her local gym and walking 3 to 5 miles a day.

And the Pikeville, Kentucky resident has a message for those also considering weight loss surgery. “It is not the easy way out,” she explains. “You had surgery on your stomach, not on your mind. You still might want the things you had before, so you really have to get willpower.”

Now at 143 lbs., Adkins hopes to get down to 135 lbs. with continued hard work and the support of her social media community.

That’s why her advice is to join a group online.  “Having people you can talk to, people who will encourage you, means more than you realize,” she says. “Losing weight is hard — it helps to be able to talk to others going through the same stuff.”


Source: Health bests

Here’s What to Snack on If You’re Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

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Tired of eating almonds and Greek yogurt (over and over and over)? I hear you. When you're trying to shed pounds, it's easy to fall into a healthy snack rut. But luckily, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Below are five easy ideas that satisfy all the criteria for a slimming snack. Each one is packed with nutrients to boost your energy and mood; filling enough to tide you over till your next meal; and low-cal enough to support your weight-loss goals. There's something for every type of craving—from salty to crunchy, and yes, even chocolate.

Savory egg salad with chopped veggies

Chop one hard-boiled pasture-raised egg. Mix with one cup of finely chopped vegetables, like kale, cucumber, tomato, and red onion. Toss mixture with a quarter cup of hummus to coat thoroughly and evenly.

RELATED: What to Eat for Dinner If You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Nutritionist

Spiced-up almond butter spread on celery

Stir one quarter cup of shredded zucchini, one quarter teaspoon fresh grated ginger, one eighth teaspoon ground cinnamon, and a teaspoon of pure maple syrup into two tablespoons of almond butter. Fill four fresh celery stalks with the mixture and crunch away.

Oven-roasted chickpeas

Toss a half cup of canned (drained, rinsed) chickpeas with a half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one sixteenth teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

Salmon-stuffed avocado

Whisk together a teaspoon of Dijon, half teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Mix dressing with half a can of wild Alaskan salmon. Fill half an avocado with salmon mixture, and enjoy with a spoon.

Sign up for our 30-Day No Takeout Challenge with Giada de Laurentiis!

Dark chocolate and berries

Pair a half cup of fresh or frozen, thawed raspberries, blueberries or strawberries with one or two squares of 70% dark chocolate. Sweet tooth, satisfied.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

How to Lose Weight Without Actually Eating Less

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When it comes to losing weight, the most important rule of thumb is to consume fewer calories than you’re taking in each day. But cutting calories doesn’t have to mean eating less food. In fact, simply focusing on healthier food choices may be a more sustainable weight-loss strategy than trying to reduce portion sizes, a new Penn State University study suggests.

The findings come from a small new clinical trial, published in the journal Appetite, which compared food consumption among 39 women who’d taken part in a previous, year-long weight-loss study and 63 women who were not part of the earlier study. All of the women came to the study lab once a week for four weeks to eat a meal, with varying portions of seven different foods served each week.

RELATED: What to Eat for Dinner if You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Nutritionist

The women in the first group, as part of the previous study, had been counseled on various strategies for weight loss, including measuring out portion sizes, calculating calorie density of different foods, and making overall healthier choices. Because the training focused heavily on portion control, the researchers expected the women who’d participated in those training sessions to eat less food overall.

That didn’t happen, though. Women in both groups fell victim to the “portion size effect,” what researchers call the tendency to eat more when larger portions of food are presented. (For example, when meal size increased by 75%, the average amount consumed went up 27%.) Overall, there was no significant difference in total amount of food consumed, by weight, between those who’d received training and those who had not.

But there was one difference. “When we dug into their food choices, we found that the trained participants were selecting to eat more of the lower calorie-dense foods—like salad, for example—and less of higher calorie-dense foods, such as the garlic bread,” says first author Faris Zuraikat, a graduate student in the department of nutritional sciences. In other words, even though they ate the same total volume of food, they consumed fewer calories.

RELATED: 17 Snacks Packed With Protein

The study did not measure the women’s weights, and since it only involved four meals over four weeks, the difference in calories likely would not have had any real weight-loss impact. But Zuraikat believes that making healthier choices over time could be an effective way to reduce calories and shed pounds.

That's not terribly surprising, says Zuraikat, but it's a good reminder that the ideal diet is not one of deprivation. And even though the women were trained in portion control, he adds, it seems to be the general healthy-eating advice that stuck with them—and it’s what they ultimately put into practice. “It may just be easier to judge which foods are higher or lower in calorie density, versus trying to judge an appropriate portion size,” he says.

Zuraikat says it may be helpful to encourage people to focus on a food's nutritional quality. “When you’re selecting lower calorie-dense foods, you can eat more of them,” he says. The payoff, he adds, is that you'll be more likely to feel full and satisfied.

To get our best food and wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Even though the women in the study underwent special training, Zuraikat says there are a few basic rules that anyone can follow if they want to make more low-calorie choices. For starters, foods with a high water content—like fruits and vegetables—tend to have a lower calorie density than foods with less water. He also recommends checking out the Volumetrics Diet, designed by his study co-author Barbara Rolls, PhD, and based on the concept of low calorie-density foods.

“We don’t want people to think they have to eat salad all the time,” Zuraikat says. “But there are ways to incorporate water-rich ingredients into every meal, so you can keep the same level of palatability and enjoy the same amount of food while still focusing on your weight-loss or weight-maintenance goals.”

Source: Health bests

The 6 Simple Changes That Helped Me Shed 87 Lb. After Giving Birth

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Tabatha James, 43, 5'8", from Alpharetta, Georgia
Before: 230 lb., size 14
After: 143 lb., size 8
Total lost: 87 lb., 6 sizes

Confession: I’ve had digestion issues forever. Even when I was active in college, I had stomachaches and felt bloated all the time. Then I gained 70 pounds while pregnant in 2011, which didn’t help. I was eating for two (and then some) and craving foods I’d never even liked before, like fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes. Two months after giving birth—and still in a fast-food frenzy—I blacked out in a parking lot. The doctor told me I’d collapsed from dehydration, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation. It was clear to me that my weight wasn’t helping either. I needed a lifestyle change, and fast.

But first, exercise 

After my incident, it was six weeks before I could begin to exercise. When I got the OK in June of 2012, I went full throttle. Five days a week, at 5:30 a.m., I did at-home workouts I created with help from my husband. It took time, but the cardio, weights, and bodyweight moves helped me drop pounds. Replacing fried food with grilled options and tracking my calories were also key. By the next February, I was down to about 150 pounds, from a high of 230.

Hooked on veggies 

While I was thrilled with my new frame, I still didn’t feel 100 percent. My stomach bothered me, and I would break out in rashes. Then one night I watched the documentary Vegucated, which highlights animal treatment. Stunned by the cruelty, I ditched animal products. I didn’t make the change for my health, but going vegan did transform my body: My digestion and rashes improved, I shed five more pounds, my clothes fit better, and I felt more energized, too. It’s been almost two years since I went vegan, and I know I’ll never look back. Those fried chicken strips have nothing on the new me!

Get toned like Tabatha 

This veggie lover got strong thanks to these healthy strategies.

1. Repeat your eats: I try to eat the same meals almost every day: green smoothies and veggie burrito bowls. This way, I’m never scrambling to come up with something to eat—or resorting to fast food.

2. Get app happy: I’m obsessed with the quick and effective routines on the 7-Minute Workout app. Plus, it sends you reminders to wake up and work out, so you never have an excuse to miss a sweat session.

3. Re-create classics: My blog, The Sensible Vegan, is my passion project. It allows me to "vegucate" others and share my recipes, like tuna-less salad, peanut butter-chocolate energy bars, and "buttermilk" biscuits.

4. Snack smart: Eating every three hours helped keep me satisfied when I was trying to lose weight. And since I never felt deprived, I was less likely to overeat.

Source: Health bests

The Supplements That Can Actually Help With Diet and Weight Loss—and the Ones That Can't

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New year, new supplement routine? If you’ve started 2018 with a diet or exercise plan that involves vitamins, herbs, shakes, or pills, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a message for you: Check the research first. Not all weight-loss supplements or fitness supplements have been shown to work, experts say, and some may even be dangerous.

To help out curious consumers, the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) has created two easy-to-use factsheets. Available on the ODS website, the factsheets lay out the effectiveness and safety of many different supplement products, and the ingredients within them.

RELATED: Best Snacks for Weight Loss

“It’s January and people are making resolutions about their overall health and weight and fitness,” says Paul Thomas, nutrition scientist for the ODS and author of the new factsheets. “We thought it was a nice time to emphasize that we have these factsheets that may be useful for people who are considering whether or not these supplements may be of value for achieving their goals.”

One of the factsheets, titled Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance, covers more than 20 common supplement ingredients that have been purported to improve strength or endurance, increase exercise efficiency, achieve a fitness goal more quickly, or increase tolerance for intense training. Products containing these ingredients are sometimes called ergogenic aids, and are often sold in drugstores, organic food stores, and fitness clubs.

Research shows that some of these ingredients may be helpful in specific circumstances. Creatine, for example, might help with short bursts of high-intensity activity (like weight lifting), but not for endurance efforts (like distance running). Drinking beetroot juice might improve aerobic exercise performance, but it’s not known whether supplements containing beetroot powder have the same effect.

RELATED: 7 Easy Breakfast Recipes That Can Help You Lose Weight (Even if You Have No Time in the Morning)

Caffeine is another ingredient that gets a cautious thumbs up. “Sports-medicine experts agree that caffeine can help you exercise at the same intensity level for longer and reduce feelings of fatigue,” the factsheet states. Intake of up to 400 or 500 mg a day is safe for most adults, and experts recommend taking 2 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, 15 to 60 minutes before exercise.

For other ingredients, there’s limited or no science to back up their fitness-related claims. Antioxidants, for example, may be good for overall health, but no studies have found that they play a role in athletic performance. And ingredients like Tribulus terrestris and deer antler velvet—marketed for muscle building and male virility—haven’t even been studied enough to know whether they’re truly safe.

“You may be surprised to learn that makers of performance supplements usually don’t carry out studies in people to find out whether their products really work and are safe,” the factsheet states. And when human studies do happen, they often include only a small number of young and healthy people—often just men—for only a few days or weeks.

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

Other ingredients on the factsheet include tart cherry juice, amino acids, ginseng, iron, and protein—which you’re probably already eating enough of, the evidence suggests. The bottom line? Only a few of these have been shown to really improve exercise and athletic performance, the NIH says, and even those should only be used by athletes who are already eating a good diet and training properly.

The other new factsheet includes supplements marketed for weight loss—a category Americans spend more than $2 billion a year on. “Sellers of these supplements might claim that their products help you lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat or carbohydrates, curbing your appetite, or speeding up your metabolism,” the factsheet states. But there’s little evidence that they work, say Thomas. Plus, they can be expensive and can interact with prescription drugs, and some may even be harmful.

RELATED: What to Eat for Dinner if You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Nutritionist

A few ingredients on the factsheet, like chromium, might help you lose a very small amount of body fat, studies show. Drinking green tea is also safe for most people, and may help them lose a small amount of weight—although green-tea extract pills have been linked to liver damage. (Drinking a lot of green tea can also interact with statin medications, a recent study found.)

But some, like bitter orange, raspberry ketone, and hoodia, have not been studied enough to prove that they’re safe. Others, like beta-glucans and garcinia, seem to be safe when taken as directed, but have not been shown to have any effect on weight loss. Many of these ingredients can also cause unpleasant side effects, like flatulence or diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, headache, and stomach cramps.

The NIH doesn’t want people to stop taking supplements entirely, and Thomas says that supplements, for the most part, are safe to take as directed. But he does want to remind consumers of the uncertainty that exists in the industry, and stresses that pills and powders are not a magic solution to getting in shape.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

“These supplements cannot and are not even marketed to take the place of the standard types of things we know we should be doing for our overall health, fitness, and weight loss,” he says. “Those include eating a very good diet and getting regular physical activity. The question becomes whether any of these supplements possibly add to that, or could possibly be an additional kind of aid.”

If you’re thinking about taking a performance or weight-loss supplement, the factsheet states, talk to your doctor. Talking to a health expert is especially important if you’re a teenager, have any medical conditions, or are currently taking any medications or other supplements.

Source: Health bests

Instagrammer Proves Weight Is Just a Number with Very Different Photos of Her Body at 125 Lbs.

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Want proof that weight is just a number? Then look to Arielle Mandelson’s Instagram, where she showed how drastically she can tone her body with nutrition and exercise, all while keeping her weight exactly the same.

Mandelson, a behavioral health consultant from Los Angeles, shared a series of three photos of herself over the last two years while she was following different diet plans and exercise routines. In the first photo, taken in Feb. 2016, she thought she was doing everything right after recovering from a near-deadly addiction to drugs and alcohol. But, she says, she still wasn’t feeling healthy.

“I spent a year focusing on my emotional well-being before I addressed my physical health, and when I finally did I was so misguided,” Mandelson, 32, tells PEOPLE. “I thought ‘healthy’ meant lean with abs so that’s what I pursued, and by all the wrong measures. I all but completely cut carbohydrates out of my diet, ate about twice the protein someone my size should, did a lot of cardio and attempted some random weight exercises. I felt aimless, bloated, lethargic and just completely frustrated.”

Looking to make a change, she decided to try out Kayla Itsines’ Beach Body Guide program after seeing other women on Instagram have success with the workouts.

“After a few weeks of doing BBG, something inside me had shifted; I could feel myself getting stronger each time I did a workout and my relationship with food improved,” Mandelson says. “My motivation was still primarily aesthetically driven but I also wanted to get stronger, so I looked at food as fuel and workouts as personal challenges to overcome. Carbohydrates and I became friends again, and I began exercising in the gym. I craved working out for the first time in my life.”

She took the second photo in the set a few months later, after finishing a full round of BBG. “I felt good on the inside, so I liked what I saw in the mirror,” Mandelson says.

As she started toning up, Mandelson says she was initially “obsessed” with the number on the scale.

“I thought if I could just get it lower and be a certain weight that I would feel better about myself,” she says. “It was disconcerting when the number didn’t change at first but my clothes fit better and I felt so good that I was able to ignore it.”

And when her weight wouldn’t budge, despite her workouts, Mandelson realized that it was muscle weight.

“Progress photos, vain as they are, became my primary barometer — and they are a much more effective tool for gauging where I was physically,” she says.

The third photo is current, and Mandelson says she feels “strong, energetic and proud.” She still does BBG, along with other workout programs, and started tracking her macronutrients.

“During the week I eat planned meals that I prepare — and it’s way more food than you would believe! — and during the weekend I just eat intuitively,” she says. “But I am not stringent about anything; I think people assume I eat leaves all day but really I’m over here eating three desserts after dinner.”

And Mandelson says her photos make an important point against focusing on weight.

“Scales can’t differentiate between muscle, fat, bones, tissue and water,” she says. “There are more accurate ways to measure body composition and that is ultimately what is important. I get messages everyday from women all over the world of all ages asking how to lose weight. It makes me sad to know how much value people give that number, and how much it can control somebody. I know because I’ve been there.”

Source: Health bests

Slimmed-Down Abby Lee Miller Addresses Her Prison Release Date: 'I've Tried to Better Myself'

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Abby Lee Miller is sharing an update on her wellbeing while serving time in prison after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud in June 2016.

The former Dance Moms star, 51, posted a photo of herself on Instagram Sunday wearing a prison uniform and posed up with some of her visitors.

The slimmed-down reality star beamed in the photograph which she shared alongside a lengthy serious caption.

“Sometimes in life you make mistakes I trusted the wrong people and didn’t pay any attention to things I should of. I’m more than sorry for the mistakes I have made,” Miller wrote in the caption.

“My world flipped upside down when I had to enter prison,” she continued. “I did so with grace, the stories you read about me been a princess are untrue. I have made friends with both inmates and staff, I’ve tried to better myself, participated in anything offered to me and I am a better person for this experience.”

It was recently reported that Miller will be released from prison on Feb. 20, but Miller said that is not necessarily the case.

“I am feeling hopeful but no dates have been confirmed at this time,” she continued in the caption. “I am feeling great and ready to turn over a new leaf thank you so much to everyone for your support especially my nearest and dearest I love you all ️ ( and yes this is me in prison ) #abbyleemiller #abbylee #dancemoms #dance #aldc”

The former dance instructor reported to the Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in California to serve her 366-day sentence for bankruptcy fraud in July 2017.

Earlier this month, Entertainment Tonight reported Miller had lost about 100 pounds and was feeling “great” since entering the penitentiary six months ago.

In October 2015, Miller was charged with attempting to hide $775,000 of income from her Lifetime series and its spin-off, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, as well as multiple other projects during Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. She allegedly hid the money in secret bank accounts between 2012–13. In June 2016, she plead guilty to bankruptcy fraud.

The reality star was also accused of divvying $120,000 – which she made in Australia during a tour – into separate plastic bags and having friends carry them in their luggage in August 2014, which is in violation of a law mandating people report if they are bringing more than $10,000 of a foreign currency into the U.S.  As part of her plea she promised to forfeit the $120,000 Australian.

RELATED: Abby Lee Miller is Petrified of What Might Happen to Her in Prison: “If People Want to Kill You, They Do” 

In May, she received a sentence of one year and one day in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release. She was additionally fined $40,000 and ordered to pay the $120,000 judgment, as well as give a DNA sample relating to her felony charge.

Miller previously told PEOPLE that while she was afraid of being beaten or raped in prison, she was also determined to take responsibility for her actions. “I made mistakes and I trusted people, but ultimately I have to take responsibility,” she said.

Source: Health bests

Make the Diagnosis: Puzzling Petechiae Plus Pain

(MedPage Today) — Case Findings: A 43-year-old man went to the doctor about two weeks after recovering from a upper respiratory tract infection because he had developed widespread skin petechiae and palpable purpura on his legs. He listed additional symptoms, including a fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. He mentioned experiencing pain in his scrotum as well.

Can you diagnose the patient?
Source: Dermatology

Viagra Received Quickly Through the Post

I wanted to buy Viagra in Australia online because I couldn’t seem to get it at the local pharmacy in a timely manner. Are there so many people taking these little blue pills that there is a shortage or something? It seemed like every time I stopped in to purchase the drug, they were out of it and didn’t know when they would be getting a restock. It’s ridiculous and, if you’re like me and still out there dating the ladies, it’s catastrophic if you’re fortunate enough to have an exciting evening go south quickly because you don’t have the drug.

I even tried going to another pharmacy in the next town over, and ran into a similar problem. I got my initial quantity of Viagra, but upon subsequent visits found out that they didn’t have it in stock. Talk about a frustrating situation. Continue reading “Viagra Received Quickly Through the Post”

What to Eat for Dinner If You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Nutritionist

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Many of my clients tell me they eat pretty healthfully … until dinnertime rolls around. Tired and famished, they put in a takeout order, then wolf down cheese crackers until it arrives. Or they open a bottle of wine, which leads to a night of continuous nibbling in front of the TV. If you find yourself in a similar rut, there is a way to break the pattern: The trick to consistently eating a healthful, balanced dinner—especially one that supports your weight-loss goals—is to think about your evening meal in advance. Here are five easy options.

When you're in no mood to cook …

Call you local Chinese restaurant and order a double portion of steamed vegetables with steamed shrimp, and a side of brown rice. Then, while you’re waiting for it, make your own sauce so you can skirt the sugar- and starch-laden version that typically comes with takeout. In a small bowl, stir together two tablespoons of unsweetened almond butter, a tablespoon of brown rice vinegar, and a teaspoon of honey. Add a half teaspoon each of fresh grated ginger and minced garlic, and one-eighth teaspoon of crushed red pepper. When your dinner arrives, toss the warm veggies and shrimp in the almond mixture to coat well, and serve over a half cup of brown rice.

RELATED: This Healthier Sesame Chicken Tastes Just Like Takeout

If you need to snack first  …

When you've already gone hours without food, it can be tough to wait to eat till dinner is ready. Try portioning out a quarter cup of almonds, and pop them in your mouth one at a time while you make a quick, simple soup.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, sauté a quarter cup of minced yellow onion in two tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth until onions are translucent. Add a half cup of additional broth, a cup of chopped kale, a teaspoon each of garlic and Italian seasoning, a one-eighth teaspoon each of sea salt and crushed red pepper, and a one-sixteenth teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir in one cup of chopped veggies of your choice, like sliced grape tomatoes and cauliflower florets. Bring to a brief boil, covered, and then reduce to a simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add a portion of lean protein, like three ounces of extra-lean ground turkey or a half cup of white beans, and if desired, a teaspoon of fresh dill. Stir to heat through, and serve.

RELATED: 17 Snacks Packed With Protein

If you're into meal prepping …

On Sunday whip up a veggie frittata you can reheat (or enjoy cold) during the week. Whisk a half dozen eggs, and then add a quarter cup of unsweetened almond milk, a half tablespoon of Dijon, a half teaspoon each of minced garlic and Italian seasoning, and an eighth teaspoon each of black pepper and sea salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan over low heat, combine a tablespoon of EVOO, a cup of chopped kale or spinach, and a cup of chopped veggies of your choice, such as broccoli florets, onion, and bell pepper. Pour egg mixture into frittata pan. Evenly spoon in veggies, along with a cup of black beans. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 40-45 minutes.

Sign up for our 30-Day No Takeout Challenge with Giada de Laurentiis!

If you prefer to graze throughout the evening …

Try this combo you can eat at your leisure: Rinse three ounces of pre-cooked ready-to-eat frozen shrimp under cold water to thaw, and dip into a tablespoon of dairy-free pesto. Make a quick salad from baby spinach or chopped romaine, dressed with a combo of one tablespoon balsamic mixed with a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard, and a half teaspoon of Italian seasoning. For dessert, reach for a cup of loose fruit you can eat one piece at a time with your hands (like grapes or berries) or use a fork to eat a cup of chopped fresh fruit, like kiwi, apple, or pear.

When you need dinner NOW …

Mix three ounces of canned wild salmon with one teaspoon of Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of olive tapenade. Slice a bell pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and stuff with the salmon mixture. Dinner done!

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

4 Reasons It’s Harder to Lose Weight in Winter—and What You Need to Do Differently

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There's no question it's easier to make healthy choices in spring and summer: There's an abundance of produce in season. The sun is shining, the days are long—and you feel naturally motivated to head outdoors and get active! But come the cold, harsh months of winter, eating clean and slimming down can seem a whole lot more challenging. Read on for a few common weight-loss hurdles that pop up when the temperature drops, plus experts tips on how to dodge them.

Temptation is everywhere

Hot chocolate, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese—'tis the season for comfort foods, which can seem so unfair given you're doing your best to stay hyper-focused on what you "should" be eating. These circumstances can put you in a tough spot, says health and lifestyle coach Sheila Viers. If you're not careful, you may slip into the mindset that all indulgences are "bad," she explains—and once you start labeling your food choices as "good" and "bad," every decision becomes a loaded one.

Any time you stray from your rigid eating plan, you might experience guilt or shame, emotions that can trigger the body's stress response, says Viers. And stress only sets you up for more trouble: When you're not feeling your best, it's even harder to stay on track with your goals, she points out.

Instead of sweating over all the dietary "shoulds," try making food choices that are right for you. "Maybe you plan ahead," Viers suggests, so you are deciding in advance when you want to indulge (like at the Friday night potluck, for example). Or maybe you choose one small indulgence per day (say, a few squares of high-quality dark chocolate) to satisfy your sweet tooth. “The important thing is that the decision feels good to you.”

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

You're fighting the urge to hibernate

Between the snow and ice, and shorter, darker days, winter is enough to tank your motivation to exercise. Who wants to venture out into the freezing weather to go for a run, or to the gym when it's so cozy at home? Luckily, you don't have to leave your living room to get in a killer sweat sesh (promise). There are tons of great workout videos online. "You can put a couple together," says Viers, "or split them up, with 10 minutes before work and 10 minutes in the evening." Keeping up a fitness routine will help with more than weight loss, she adds. “The benefit of working out is that it gets oxygen to the cells,” says Viers. “This keeps your body working optimally, and keeps you energized."

Need some fitspo? We've rounded up our favorite online workouts for yogadance cardio, and HIIT. Only got a few minutes? Check out these super-efficient routines you can do anywhere. 

Sign up for our 30-Day Love Your Strength Challenge With Emily Skye!

You’re loading up on salt

If you're eating less fresh food in the winter months, you're probably eating more packaged and processed foods, which can be sneaky sources of sodium. Think canned veggies and soups, pasta, bread, chips and crackers—they can all cause you to retain water.

Even if you’re keeping your calorie intake in check, water weight can make you feel bloated and sluggish. Viers' advice: Hydrate as much as you can. "It really is the best way to get rid of that water weight," she says. Adding potassium-rich foods to your diet may help, too, because they regulate sodium levels in your body. Great sources include avocados, bananas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and coconut water.

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Raw veggies seem so unappealing

Let’s face it: When you’re feeling cold, your belly isn't exactly rumbling for kale. You’re probably more inclined to opt for a savory lunch over a salad, right? Soups and stews are a great way to get vegetables too, you just have to choose wisely, says Viers. “A soup with a cream base is more likely to contain more calories, for example, so you can opt for broth-based soups." And if you're turned off by salad, try eating your veggies warm: Roasted sweet potatoes, peppers, parsnips, carrots, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are great as a side, thrown into soup, or even tossed over greens for a hunger-crushing meal.

Don't forget about warm fruits either. They can be a delicious and healthy winter treat. You can bake or roast peaches, pears, plums, or even cherries, and eat with a little drizzle of honey or cinnamon, or a dollop of whipped cream.

Source: Health bests