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Well, It's Diet Time Again

Lose the weight before we lose the summer

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If you haven't started yet, it's a little late to try getting in shape for bathing suit season. After all, summer's half over already. Sure, the calendar says we have almost 2-1/2 months before fall falls, but let's face it. Once we've celebrated the 4th of July, the season starts winding down and the stores start advertising tweeds and cozy sweaters.

But those who are determined to don the suit at least once in these waning summer weeks probably will want to shed some lingering winter weight. There are tons of diets out there, each warning against some corpulence culprit like carbohydrates, fat, or white foods.

Don't swallow all the propaganda diet sponsors try to feed you. The only thing that really works is to burn up more calories than you take in. Here's the skinny on some of those diet myths:

¨ Fad diets will help you take off weight permanently. Sure, you can cut out carbs or fat or eat to fit your blood type and the pounds may come off. But you might also be cutting out essential nutrients. And, as soon as you get bored or feel deprived and go back to eating the foods you've been missing, the pounds will reappear.

¨ Skip meals to lose weight. Maybe you'll lose a few ounces between breakfast and dinner if you don't have lunch, but you'll be so hungry by the dinner hour that you'll make up for lost time. Try eating small meals throughout the day. That way, you'll be refueling but not overloading your system.

¨ Eat whatever you want, and still lose weight. Go ahead. Eat a bag of potato chips. You will lose weight — if that's all you eat. You still have to count — and burn — those calories. Oh, and potato chips — like ketchup — do not count as a vegetable.

¨ There are good calories and bad calories. Whether you consume 4,000 calories by eating 1,000 grams of sugar or by eating 130 carrots, it's still 4,000 calories. You'd better start walking either way.

¨ You can lose 54 pounds in six weeks. Don't believe those stupid ads. You have to burn off 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. Losing 54 pounds — 189,000 calories! — in six weeks means dropping nine pounds in seven days, or 1.3 pounds per day. The only way to do that would be to eat nothing and run a marathon every day for the whole six weeks. That's impossible. Or you could try amputation.

¨ Burn fat by eating only certain foods, like grapefruit or cabbage soup (yum!). Nope. Won't happen. No foods can burn fat. You might speed up your metabolism rate for a short time with caffeine-rich food or beverages, but that won't help with weight loss.

¨ Potatoes and other carbohydrates are fattening. No, they're not. A baked potato has only about 85 calories. It's the butter and sour cream and bacon bits you heap on that heap on the calories. Same with pasta. Fettucine with lots of creamy, buttery, cheesy Alfredo sauce will, unfortunately, provide calories galore. Linguine with marinara sauce won't.

¨ By sticking to a diet, you don't need to exercise to lose weight. Just to maintain your weight, you need to burn off the number of calories you take in. To lose the poundage, you have to use up more than you take in. It's that simple.

Swimming is great exercise for burning off weight, but if you want to look good before wriggling into the swimsuit, start counting those calories. The ones going in and the ones coming off.

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