"The evidence that with knowledge already at our disposal, we could eliminate 80 percent of chronic disease is the basis for everything I do," Katz said. Just as he was finishing his residency in internal medicine in 1993, influential research in the Journal of the American Medical Association ("Actual Causes of Death in the United States") put diet on a short list of the lifestyle factors blamed for half of deaths in 1990. "Here we are more than 20 years later and we’ve made just about no progress."
Hear us out here: Diets can be restrictive, and you’re less likely to stick with one if you feel like you’re depriving yourself. While Cording swears that water is the absolute best thing you can drink for weight loss, she says it’s also helpful to incorporate one non-water beverage into your repertoire a day so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. That might be kombucha, a cocktail, or a latte—it’s your choice. “It seems to be a more manageable approach than saying you should just drink water,” she says.
You may feel trendy with a bottle of vitamin-enhanced water in your hand, but that brightly-hued liquid probably isn’t improving your health. Most vitamin-infused H20 is just colored sugar water with some vitamins tossed in—bad news when you consider that Americans take in about 355 calories of added sugar every day. If you want vitamins, get them from vitamin supplements or, better yet, from whole foods (wild salmon, for example, is loaded with energy-boosting vitamin B-12). And if you want water, get it from, well, water. Nature’s beverage is calorie-free, cost-free and will take care of all your hydration needs.
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
"What I don't like about any commercial diet is that the focus is not on your actual food choices," Hogan said. "It's about calories or points or numbers, and that really takes away from your ability to be in tune with your hunger cues and your fullness cues and what you're really craving. If we become more in tune with those things, we naturally consume how much the body needs. Paying too much attention to numbers takes away from that."
Whether your reason for going vegetarian is ethical, environmental, or for health, one thing's for sure: weight loss can be a nice bonus. In fact, in that same study that evaluated vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous diets, vegetarian diets were almost as effective as vegan—helping people lose 6.3 percent of their body weight compared to 7.5 percent in the vegan group in a half year. Bonus: perfection isn't necessary. Even if you fall off the wagon and break your diet (hey, it happens!) another study found that dieting vegetarians still lost more weight than dieting meat eaters.
It’s easy to see the front of a package and get lured in by misleading claims, particularly those that say they’re “free-from” something, says Taub-Dix. She points out that gluten-free foods may also be high in sugar, salt, calories, and fat and contain less fiber—and thus be weight-promoting. Reading the nutrition label will give you the real truth for what you’re buying.