Weight loss depends on eating fewer calories than your body uses up. But when you eat those calories could make a difference that you’ll see on the scale. An Italian study found that you can boost weight loss by about 25 percent just by eating 70 percent of each day’s calories between breakfast and lunch, including a mid-morning snack, and the other 30 percent as an afternoon snack and dinner. The researchers used the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet for their study. Participants all cut their intake by 600 calories a day. Their calorie breakdown was 55 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 15 percent protein, with over 30 grams of fiber daily. At the end of three months, the participants who ate 70 percent of their daily calories through lunch lost 18 pounds compared to 14 pounds lost by those who ate just 55 percent of their calories through lunch. Plus, they lost more body fat and used insulin more effectively, which can help ward off diabetes. It will take some effort to rebalance your calories, especially if you’re used to eating more later in the day and evening. But the results could be more than worth the switch. Key guidelines for following the Mediterranean diet: Most of the foods you eat should be plant-based, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Use plant-based oils, notably…  read on >

You’ve probably heard about the high-carb diet and the low-carb diet, but a new study suggests a moderate-carb diet could be the key to longevity. Researchers followed more than 15,000 people in the United States for a median of 25 years and found that low-carb diets (fewer than 40 percent of calories from carbohydrates) and high-carb diets (more than 70 percent of calories) were associated with an increased risk of premature death. Moderate consumption of carbohydrates (50 to 55 percent of calories) was associated with the lowest risk of early death. “This work provides the most comprehensive study of carbohydrate intake that has been done to date, and helps us better understand the relationship between the specific components of diet and long-term health,” said senior study author Dr. Scott Solomon, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. The researchers estimated that from age 50, people eating a moderate-carb diet would live another 33 years, four years longer than those with very low carb consumption, and one year longer than those with high carb consumption. The investigators also found that all low-carb diets may not be equal. Eating more animal-based proteins and fats from foods like beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese instead of carbohydrates was associated with a greater risk of early death, while eating more plant-based proteins and fats from…  read on >

As a tool to reduce the public health toll of drinking, higher taxes on alcohol get the most bang for the buck, a new study finds. Worldwide, more than 4 percent of diseases and 5 percent of deaths are directly linked with alcohol, previous research suggests. In this study, researchers looked at data from 16 countries to find out which of five alcohol-control strategies would be most cost-effective in reducing alcohol-related harm and deaths. Their conclusion: A 50 percent increase in alcohol excise taxes (those included in the price) would cost less than $100 for each healthy year of life gained in the overall population. And it would add 500 healthy years of life for every 1 million people, the researchers said. Such a tax increase would be pennies per drink, according to the study published Aug. 9 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. “Tax increases may not sound the most attractive of policy options but are the single most cost-effective way of diminishing demand and reigning back consumption,” lead researcher Dan Chisholm said in a journal news release. Chisholm is a program manager for mental health with the World Health Organization in Copenhagen, Denmark. Previous studies showed that state excise taxes in the United States average 3 cents for a 12-ounce beer or 5-ounce glass of wine and 5 cents for…  read on >

Eating fewer calories is essential when you want to lose weight, but there’s growing evidence that the quality of those calories matters, too. Eating high-quality foods not only boosts weight loss, but also reduces your risk for chronic diseases. High-quality foods are fresh or minimally processed. Think vegetables and fruits, whole grains, plant-based fats and healthy sources of protein. Fresh or flash frozen choices are best. If you need to buy canned foods, look for no-sugar, no-salt added varieties. Lower-quality foods typically contain refined grains like white flour and various sugars. They’re usually processed and packaged, and high in saturated and/or trans fats — even though manufacturers are supposed to eliminate trans fats, the deadlines to do so have been extended. One study showed just how strong the association is between low-quality foods and gaining weight. When people ate more foods like potato chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats — and fewer vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt — they put on nearly one pound a year. Unchecked, over time, those pounds can start adding up … to obesity. Another study found that increasing the quality of fruit, meat, grains and dairy boosted weight loss after just 12 weeks. To make the switchover easier on yourself, set an attainable goal of eating one new or different high-quality food at least once every…  read on >

Did you know that a store can sell food past the expiration date printed on the label? Or that manufacturers only voluntarily stamp dates on foods? While the law states that foods must be wholesome and safe to eat, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can take action to remove a product that poses a danger, the agency doesn’t require dates on foods other than infant formula. And when dates are used, they’re determined by the manufacturer. That means that you need to become an educated consumer about dating guidelines to protect your health. What’s called “open dating” is found mainly on perishable foods such as meat, eggs and dairy. “Closed” or “coded” dating is used on cans and boxes. Dating: An Open & Closed Case: Sell-By: How long the store should display the food. Buy before this date and cook within one to two days for poultry and ground meats, three to five days for red meat. Best If Used By or Before: A recommendation for best flavor or quality. Use-By: Last date for the food’s peak quality, but not a safety date. Closed or coded dates: Packing numbers used by the manufacturer and valuable in case of a recall. Except for “use-by” dates, dates don’t always pertain to home storage and use. Even if the date expires after you buy it, the…  read on >

It can happen when you’re traveling on business, running late to an appointment, or are simply running out of time to make dinner. You’re facing fast food or no food. Use these tips to make the most of this meal. Start by looking for the lowest calorie selections. Some restaurants list the calories and fat content on their menu board. If not, you can do a quick search of its website on your smartphone. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates, 2018 is the year that calorie labeling is required for restaurants and similar food establishments that have 20 or more locations. The goal is to make it easy to know what you’re getting in every menu item. Of course, you don’t necessarily want to choose food by calories alone. Go for lean proteins, like grilled chicken or meat that you can see, not hidden under breading or tucked into a sealed wrap. Have it on a salad rather than a bun, and skip fatty and sugary dressings. Instead, drizzle on oil and vinegar, if available, or use mustard. If you’re limited to a sandwich, opt for a whole-wheat wrap, or eat only half the bread. Add lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables, but stay away from toppings like cheese and special sauces. If there’s no fruit available, fat-free yogurt or frozen yogurt is a…  read on >