The Right Way to Fight Fat Creep

It’s no secret that America has a problem with weight gain. But according to a new Reader’s Digest and Yahoo! Health poll, when it comes to losing weight, many Americans are going about it all wrong.

By Lauren Gelman

Our Go-To Weight Loss Strategies May Be Backfiring

What’s the best way to lose weight? If you’re like many of our survey respondents, your favorite approaches may be sabotaging your efforts.

Survey says: 71 percent of adults say exercise is their best weight loss weapon.
Fact: Exercise alone leads to a modest reduction in weight loss—less than 3 percent! To be effective as a weight loss agent, exercise has to be paired with the right diet.

Related: Good, Better, Best At-Home Workouts »

Survey says: 22 percent say they rely on eating sugar-free or fat-free foods to lose weight.
Fact: These “fake foods” may be messing with your health. To keep their products moving off the shelves, food companies employ food scientists to create new, even tastier versions of foods by manipulating fat, sugar, and salt content. This magic formula makes appealing food even more appealing. And that makes us want to eat more and buy more. They also tend to provide plenty of calories, but not a lot of nutrition . . . leaving our bodies and our brains literally hungry for more.

Survey says: 22 percent say they avoid carbohydrates to slim down.
Fact: You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: The right kinds of carbs—fiber-rich whole grains—are actually a smart weight loss agent. Fiber is one of the most filling nutrients around, so when you eat a lot of it, you’re less likely to keep on snacking. If you’re already eating plenty of whole wheat toast and brown rice, consider adding quinoa, a breakthrough fat releaser, to your grocery list. A 2011 study found that animals supplemented with an extract made from quinoa seeds showed less body fat, decreased body weight, and decreased food consumption.

Survey says: 56 percent say cardio workouts burn the most fat.
Fact: Continuous aerobic exercise isn’t nearly as effective at fighting fat creep as surprising your body with interval training or strength training. In one study, as little as three 11-minute strength-training sessions a week increased metabolism and the number of calories burned during sleep.

Related: 1-Minute Workouts for Instant Energy »

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