13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss

From surprising foods that release fat to why watching TV can be healthier than you think, we uncovered these shockingly simple weight loss secrets.

View as Slideshow

1. You Have to Eat Fat to Beat Fat

1. You Have to Eat Fat to Beat Fat
While too much of the wrong fat (certain saturated fats in highly processed meats and trans fat found in some cookies and crackers) is bad for your health and waistline, a diet rich in the right fat—good unsaturated fats—can help both.  

Good fats, like monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in olive oil, nuts, and avocados have proven to be powerful reducers of belly fat. Other sources of good fat are the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs); found in fish and its oil, and in many nuts and seeds, PUFAs help release fat, too. A Dutch study found that consumption of PUFAs lead to a higher resting metabolic rate (the calories used just to live), as well as a greater DIT, or diet-induced calorie burn.  PUFAs are also burned faster than saturated fats in the body.

What’s more, fats help you feel full—they have 9 calories per gram compared to 4 for protein or carbs. So a small nibble of something yummy, like a handful of nuts or some peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, can help you feel full for hours.

Buy the book The Digest Diet: Exclusive offer only at DigestDiet.com »

2. A Daily Dose of Chocolate Can Trim Your Waistline

2. A Daily Dose of Chocolate Can Trim Your Waistline
If you’re like us, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate into your life. To release fat, here’s the trick: Go heavy on the cocoa and light on sugar. Cocoa contains more antioxidants than most foods and is good for so many things, including—when consumed in moderation—weight loss.

In a June 2011 study from the Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked at the effect that antioxidants found in cocoa had on obese diabetic mice. (Since a diabetic’s lifespan is, on average, seven years shorter, they were looking for any antiaging promise that increasing dietary intake of this flavonoid might give.) Their findings: The mice lived longer. The cocoa reduced degeneration of their aortic arteries, and it blunted fat deposition.

To add more cocoa into your diet, buy unsweetened cocoa and add it to shakes, coffee, and other recipes.

3. Dairy Promotes Weight Loss

3. Dairy Promotes Weight Loss
Unfortunately some myths persist that dairy sabotages weight loss, but science proves this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that those who have deficiencies in calcium hold a greater fat mass and experience less control of their appetite. What’s more, studies have found that dairy sources of calcium—like yogurt, low- or nonfat cheese, and milk—are markedly more effective in accelerating fat loss than other sources.

In one study out of the University of Tennessee, researchers showed that eating three servings of dairy daily significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects. If they restricted calories a bit while continuing with the same dairy servings, it accelerated fat and weight loss.

Content continues below ad

4. Losing Weight Early and Fast Is Best

4. Losing Weight Early and Fast Is Best
Besides giving you a great psychological boost right out of the gate, losing weight quickly may also help you keep it off longer. To those of us who are used to hearing that slow and steady wins the race, this news is a little shocking and counterintuitive.

In a 2010 University of Florida study, when researchers analyzed data on 262 middle-aged women who were struggling with obesity, they demonstrated that shedding weight fast lead to larger overall weight loss and longer-term success in keeping it off.

5. Exercise Alone Is Not an Effective Weight Loss Tool

5. Exercise Alone Is Not an Effective Weight Loss Tool
I learned this lesson the hard way. From 1998 to 2006, I was the executive editor of Fitness magazine. Studying the fitness research and trying the trends were all part of my job. For years, I believed that I could eat anything I wanted because I was exercising so much. But the more I exercised, the hungrier I was. And the more I ate, the more I needed to exercise to maintain a healthy weight. 

Here’s what happened: I saw a steady increase in my body weight of a pound a year. Thinking you can eat whatever you want as long as you work it off later is actually a pretty dangerous mind-set, particularly if you look at the current research. Exercise alone leads to a very modest decrease in total body weight: less than 3 percent!


6. The Difference Between Being Overweight and a Healthy Weight May Boil Down to Fidgeting

6. The Difference Between Being Overweight and a Healthy Weight May Boil Down to Fidgeting
Research shows that people who are naturally lean—you know the sort: They seem to eat all day, whatever they want, and never gain a pound or an inch—automatically, even subconsciously, find ways to move to make up for any extra calories they may be ingesting.

Believe it or not, spontaneous physical activity (SPA) like fidgeting, bending, brushing your hair, doing dishes, etc. can burn 350 or more calories a day, according to Mayo Clinic research.

Content continues below ad

7. Long Cardio Sessions Aren't Helping You Burn Fat

7. Long Cardio Sessions Aren't Helping You Burn Fat
Nod your head if you do the same workout over and over. You just hit that treadmill, elliptical, or jogging path and you put in your time. Unfortunately, this exercise strategy can actually backfire when it comes to weight loss and fat burning.

Aerobic exercise demands that you increase your energy output. Because our body is always trying to stay in balance, this type of movement may actually act as a biological cue to make you eat more, which can sabotage weight-loss efforts.

Besides that, research shows that continuous aerobic exercise isn’t nearly as effective a weight-control strategy as surprising your body with aerobic interval training (short bursts of heart-pounding work, also known as HIIT, or high intensity interval training) or strength training (push-ups, squats, anything that builds muscle and power).

8. TV Time is OK—but Make It a Sitcom

8. TV Time is OK—but Make It a Sitcom
We’re not recommending you ditch your exercise routine and sit on your couch popping handfuls of chips. But TV isn’t the weight loss devil that many experts make it out to be, particularly if you use it to make you smile and laugh.

Here’s why: Stress takes an enormous toll on your health (research shows it can increase belly fat and slow down weight loss), and laughing is the perfect stress-relieving, fat releasing antidote.

What’s more, it’s a pretty potent calorie burner in its own right. When British researchers looked into the number of calories burned by intense laughing and compared it to the calorie burn of other daily activities (strength training, running, even vacuuming), they found that an hour of intense laughter can burn as many calories—up to 120—as a half hour hitting it hard at the gym!

9. The Real Reason You’re Craving Junk Food? You’re Thinking Too Hard!

9. The Real Reason You’re Craving Junk Food? You’re Thinking Too Hard!
If you’re like many office workers, your desk job gives you a double fat increasing whammy: Not only are you sitting, inactive, at a desk for most of the day, but this type of mental, knowledge-based work actually makes it more difficult to control appetite and may make us eat more calories and fat.

Research suggests that because brain neurons rely almost exclusively on glucose as fuel, intense mental work leads to unstable glucose levels. Since the work requires glucose for maximum brainpower—well, we naturally reach for more fuel.

To outsmart this fat increaser, it’s important to fuel up on hunger-fighting foods high in filling fiber, protein and calcium. So the next time you feel that hunger pang, reach for a fat-free Greek yogurt or baby carrots with a tablespoon of peanut butter instead of a bag of chips. 

Content continues below ad

10. A Daily Glass of Wine Is an Effective Fat Releaser

10. A Daily Glass of Wine Is an Effective Fat Releaser
So many people have asked me if it’s okay to have a drink when trying to lose weight. Good news: Many studies clearly show that a small glass of red wine a day is good for your health. Now numerous animal studies are highlighting its great promise as a fat releaser.

In one large study of more than 19,000 middle-aged women of normal weight, those who were light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol.  And in another separate animal study done in 2006, the researchers found that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, improved exercise endurance as well as protected against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

11. All Sugar Isn’t Evil When It Comes to Weight Loss

11. All Sugar Isn’t Evil When It Comes to Weight Loss
It’s no secret that America has a sugar problem: According to the American Heart Association, we eat 22 teaspoons a day on average. (They recommend six for women and nine for men.) While cutting back on sugar consumption all around is a smart, healthy move, you should also consider swapping some of your sugar for honey.

Honey has also shown great promise in animal studies for reducing weight gain and adiposity (fatness) when substituted for sugar. It’s a nutritious fat releasing alternative that also boasts antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may improve blood sugar control, is a great cough suppressant, and it boosts immunity.

12. Skimping on Sleep Can Negate Calorie Cutting

12. Skimping on Sleep Can Negate Calorie Cutting
How long you sleep directly affects your body mass. One study found that dieters who got 8 1/2 hours of sleep nightly lost 56 percent more body fat than they did when eating the same diet but got just 51/2 hours of sleep a night. Other Columbia University research revealed that people may eat 300 extra calories a day when they get a few hours less sleep than usual.

Sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones leptin and ghrelin that regulate appetite. That means you’ll feel hungrier and are more likely to indulge in poorer eating behaviors. Also, you may look for more energy in the form of unhealthy snacks!

Content continues below ad

13. Your Secret Weight Loss Weapon May be a Good HEPA Air Filter

13. Your Secret Weight Loss Weapon May be a Good HEPA Air Filter
More and more research reveals that the toxins, chemicals, and compounds riddling our food supply and self-care products are contributing to the nation’s collective fat creep.

And air pollution is a particularly bad fat increaser. A 2011 study from the College of Public Health at Ohio State University found just that: Exposure to fine particulate matter (air pollution) induced insulin resistance, reduced glucose tolerance, and increased inflammation, leading researchers to mark long-term exposure to air pollution as a risk factor for diabetes. And as we know, diabetes and obesity are close cousins (80 to 85 percent of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are obese).

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

21 thoughts on “13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss

  1. My experience is that exercise DOES help with weight loss. Maybe I couldn’t eat *everything* and lose weight by exercise, but I certainly could eat a lot more by exercise and still lose weight than if I didn’t exercise at all. When I was losing weight 5 years ago, I couldn’t exercise for a little while and I started counting calories. I did not lose weight at 2000 calories a day without exercise. Once I resumed bicycling everyday, I lost weight rather quickly at 2000 calories a day and I even could increase the intake to over 3000 calories a day a still lose weight. Yes, I couldn’t eat 9000 calories a day and lose weight by exercise, but losing weight at 3000 calories a day is a heck of lot better than having to consume 1500 calories a day to lose weight without exercise. My experience is also that long bike rides are much more effective for weight loss than short brief ones. Yes, of course, there should be bursts of intensity, but an intense 5 minute workout can only burn so many calories. One has to have intensity and duration. Only 1% of the population exercises enough for weight control and that is over 1 hour a day of exercise.

  2. Amazing that the poor advice from the article is out-dumbed by the dogma-driven comments. LOL at some of you.

  3. I actually agree with number 4. Yes, people are going to argue and say slow weight loss is best. But I have been there , and you can regain weight just as easily if you lose it slow as you can if you lose it quickly. It took me 8 years to lose 85 lbs, and within 1 year I already regained 25 lbs. True, I didn’t regain all the weight, but I did regain some, even after losing it “slowly”. You can lose up to 3 lbs a week, and it can still be pure fat, as long as you are eating enough protein and doing your weight lifting regimen. People think slow weight loss is good for you, when it just puts you on the merry go round longer. If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, you’re going to have to get used to feeling hungry ALL THE TIME. Its just a fact. 1500 calories a day is plenty. When you have been overweight for a long time, you’ll never be the same again with hunger. Its just how it is. If you eat til you no longer feel hungry, you’ve already eaten too much.

  4. Popping the odd Jolly Rancher during the day increases blood sugar, thus warding off the munchies just a bit.

  5. #5 says you can’t eat anything you want and think you can exercise it off.  #6 says skinny people who eat anything they want stay skinny because they move around a lot.
    Well, article writer, which is it?

  6. I eat what I want and don’t gain or lose. When I try following advice I lose but regain and more so i just do the above.

  7. Calf’s milk is used for one thing and one thing only:  to FATTEN A CALF.  But we believe it will magically do the opposite for us.  They go from telling us to avoid saturaded fats (found most commonly in animal products – i.e. meat and dairy) to telling us to eat dairy!  I’m done with this site. 

  8. Muira Puama is one of a range of 100 % pure elements that are staying used in products that are publicized as natural and organic options to Prescription medication cures such as The blue pill. 

  9. Actually, the #1 thing they won’t tell you is that we actually have NO IDEA how to make fat people thin (or thin people fat) in the long run, and that weight loss efforts fail around 95% of the time — 95% of people who lose weight gain most or all of it back, and most of them gain additional weight too. This even happens to people who have surgeries like gastric bypass or the lap band, which indicates that it has nothing to do with lack of willpower or going off of your diet and everything to do with the fact that the human body is much more complicated than we know. If dieting and weight loss actually worked, there wouldn’t be a diet industry. If you’re interested in being healthy but you’re tired of fighting your own body, consider looking into a Health at Every Size approach. Studies have shown that people who practice the healthy habits of not smoking, drinking in moderation, getting moderate exercise (30 minutes a day 5 times a week), and eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day are equally healthy, whether they are “normal” weight, overweight, or obese. 

  10. Dairy boosts fat loss… REALLY? That is such terrible advice. If one needs more calcium, go for non-dairy sources, such as enriched soy or almond milk, and leafy greens. Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, states that drinking milk actually escorts calcium out of the body. 

  11.  Now! You must not miss it!
    jordan air max oakland raiders $30–39;
    htt p://k3k.k.af

  12. calorie in calorie out. now how much simpler is that. learned it in health class in the 1950s

  13. if its one page ill read and maybe print it. if its video or multipage im outa here. ill get fat and die soon. tell with it.

  14. ( ==== www happy2get com ==== )
    Online Store,Get Name Brand Fashion From 12USD Now! You must not miss it!
    jordan air max oakland raiders $30–39;

  15. #4 and #7 are potentially life threatening, and  #2, #3, #10 and #13 aren’t hard science any more than the Atkin’s diet or the BMI is. What crack-pot put this list together? Time and time and time again -real- studies have shown that the most effective weight loss tools are MODERATION and REASONABLE exercise. How hard are those two things to comprehend? The fact that you could replace all these well-intentioned but skewed lists and articles and and either dangerous or misguided dietary propaganda from those with extroverted eating disorders with one sentence; “Have common sense about what you eat, control how much you eat and move around occasionally.” is a shocking glimpse into what a ponzi scheme “healthy living” is these days. 

    1. This website is actually FULL of terrible advice.  They’re probably getting this stuff from content farms and forum postings, not from actual experts.

    2. Time and time again studies have shown that moderation and reasonable exercise work for MOST people.  Unfortunately there is a huge part of the population that does NOT respond to that advice.  Its no different than people responding differently to the same medication.  The issue is actually that people have lost the ability to listen to what there body is telling them.  The “fat free” revolution destroyed the health of this country!

  16. This diet sounds great i have been eating all natural foods. I can see a big difference in my weight loss. I stay away from artificial sweeteners and processed foods. I get my natural weight loss tips and diet reviews from weightnatural dot com 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram

@kristencarney

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.

@sixthformpoet

Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”

@NicCageMatch

Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Reader's Digest Survey

Click on the image above to take our survey