The Habit That Will Help You Lose the Extra Weight

Feel like you’ve got a little extra padding to deal with? The health experts at Harvard have an answer for you to help you shed the weight: keep your glycemic index (GI) chart handy.

In the December issue of Harvard Health Review| researchers note that it’s not fat that you should be worried about if you are watching your weight it’s refined carbs. Recent studies have shown that refined carbs and simple sugars may be worse for your heart than saturated fats and that sticking to a low-carb| high-protein diet is the key to weight-loss success. But since we can’t live off BBQ meats alone| here’s a simple solution: when faced with carb choices| go with low-GI foods| which slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body. High-GI foods| in contrast| cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin| causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop.

Related: 5 Ways to Think Yourself Skinny: The Harvard Study That’ll Shock You

The GI index ranks foods on a zero to 100 scale; in general| a GI of 1 to 55 is low| 56 to 69 is medium| and 70 to 100 is high you should limit these high-ranking foods in your diet. If you know your GI values| you’ll know that you need to avoid white rice| white flour| and packaged cereals| and choose whole grains| whole fruits| and other complex carbs instead. You can also choose foods that are low on the glycemic load scale| which measures the blood-sugar-raising power of that food. A glycemic load of 10 or less is low| 11 to 19 is medium| and 20 or more is high.

Related: Study: People Who Eat More of These Foods Lose the Most Weight

Following the glycemic index isn’t a new concept| but it’s a useful way to keep your eating habits in check when on the go. Knowing your numbers is a quick way to help ensure that you’re making smarter choices whether you’re at a party or just looking to get back on track. Check out a handy GI chart of a few foods below| and check out a list of GI and glycemic load values of 100 common foods here.

Food Glycemic index Glycemic load per serving

Apple396Baguette| white| plain9515Banana| ripe6216Brown rice5016Carrots352Dates| dried4218Cranberry juice cocktail6824Graham crackers7414Grapefruit253Green peas514Ice cream576Instant oatmeal8330Milk| full fat415Milk| skim324Orange404Orange juice| unsweetened5012Parsnips524Potato| russet| baked11133Potato| white| boiled8221Quinoa5313Spaghetti| white| boiled4622Spaghetti| wholemeal| boiled4217Sponge cake| plain4617Shortbread6410Sweet potato| average7022White rice8943White basmati rice| quick-cooking6728Whole-wheat bread719Yam5420

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

The Habit That Will Help You Lose the Extra Weight

Feel like you’ve got a little extra padding to deal with? The health experts at Harvard have an answer for you to help you shed the weight: keep your glycemic index (GI) chart handy.

In the December issue of Harvard Health Review, researchers note that it’s not fat that you should be worried about if you are watching your weight ¡ª it’s refined carbs. Recent studies have shown that refined carbs and simple sugars may be worse for your heart than saturated fats and that sticking to a low-carb, high-protein diet is the key to weight-loss success. But since we can’t live off BBQ meats alone, here’s a simple solution: when faced with carb choices, go with low-GI foods, which slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body. High-GI foods, in contrast, cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop.

Related: 5 Ways to Think Yourself Skinny: The Harvard Study That’ll Shock You

The GI index ranks foods on a zero to 100 scale; in general, a GI of 1 to 55 is low, 56 to 69 is medium, and 70 to 100 is high ¡ª you should limit these high-ranking foods in your diet. If you know your GI values, you’ll know that you need to avoid white rice, white flour, and packaged cereals, and choose whole grains, whole fruits, and other complex carbs instead. You can also choose foods that are low on the glycemic load scale, which measures the blood-sugar-raising power of that food. A glycemic load of 10 or less is low, 11 to 19 is medium, and 20 or more is high.

Related: Study: People Who Eat More of These Foods Lose the Most Weight

Following the glycemic index isn’t a new concept, but it’s a useful way to keep your eating habits in check when on the go. Knowing your numbers is a quick way to help ensure that you’re making smarter choices whether you’re at a party or just looking to get back on track. Check out a handy GI chart of a few foods below, and check out a list of GI and glycemic load values of 100 common foods here.

Food Glycemic index Glycemic load per serving

Apple396Baguette, white, plain9515Banana, ripe6216Brown rice5016Carrots352Dates, dried4218Cranberry juice cocktail6824Graham crackers7414Grapefruit253Green peas514Ice cream576Instant oatmeal8330Milk, full fat415Milk, skim324Orange404Orange juice, unsweetened5012Parsnips524Potato, russet, baked11133Potato, white, boiled8221Quinoa5313Spaghetti, white, boiled4622Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled4217Sponge cake, plain4617Shortbread6410Sweet potato, average7022White rice8943White basmati rice, quick-cooking6728Whole-wheat bread719Yam5420

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

Nutritionist-Recommended Foods to Suppress Your Appetite Naturally

There may be no magic pill for weight loss| but dietician Julie Upton| MS| RD| of Appetite For Health| stays on top of the science behind taming your appetite naturally. Here| she deciphers recent research and shares six foods that will keep your appetite in check.

Feel like you need some help with hunger management? You’re not alone. Most of my clients who struggle with weight loss or maintenance also struggle with hunger. Of course| it’s no coincidence ¡ª it’s hard to walk around feeling famished| particularly when you’re faced with the temptation of high-calorie treats everywhere you turn. No wonder willpower wilts!

Related: Eat These 6 Everyday Foods to Burn More Calories

The good news is that several new studies have identified compounds in certain foods that trigger the release of hormones in the stomach that help you feel full and neurotransmitters in the brain that suppress appetite and reduce cravings. Eating more of these foods can help keep your hunger in check| even as you cut calories to peel off pounds. It’s a weight-loss win-win!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry

Apples

An apple a day may keep extra pounds away| according to research that shows this fruit contains filling soluble fiber as well as ursolic acid| a natural compound that has been found to boost fat burning and which may promote lean muscle mass. In one study| researchers from the University of Iowa note that animals given ursolic acid supplements increased their muscle mass and energy expenditure (or calorie burn). And a study that was done on people and published in the journal Appetite shows that women who added three small apples (total calorie cost: 200) to their diet per day lost a little more than two pounds in 10 weeks more than dieters who did not include the fruit in their diet.

Related: Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake: Guaranteed to Keep You Full Until Lunch

A medium apple has 95 calories and 6 grams of fiber; a small apple has 75 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber. Be sure to eat the whole apple| as the ursolic acid as well as beneficial antioxidants are concentrated in the skin.

Beans (. . . and peas| lentils| and chickpeas)

Beans| peas| lentils| and chickpeas are a triple threat against hunger because they contain a lot of fiber; are excellent sources of slow-to-digest protein; and have a low glycemic index to keep blood sugar and carbohydrate cravings in check. A recent meta-analysis published in the journal Obesity indicates that people who ate about one cup (5.5 ounces) of legumes felt 31 percent fuller than those who didn’t eat these fiber-filled foods. Another study| published recently in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics| reports that overweight people who ate a bean-rich diet lost nearly 10 pounds in 16 weeks while simultaneously improving their blood cholesterol levels.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

Eggs

Here’s some egg-citing news: eating a breakfast that’s rich in protein (20 to 30 grams) suppresses ghrelin| a hormone that stimulates your appetite| while elevating peptide YY and GLP-1| two hormones that enhance satiety| according to research. One study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that when subjects ate eggs for breakfast (versus equal-calorie breakfasts of either cereal or croissants)| they consumed up to 438 fewer calories over the entire day. In fact| studies have found that an egg breakfast may help control hunger for a full 24 hours. (To keep blood cholesterol in check| you can enjoy one egg yolk per day and use egg whites for the additional protein they provide.)

Related: How Eggs Help With Weight Loss

Greek Yogurt

Need a reason to go Greek? A landmark study| published in Nutrition| Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases| reports that among more than 8|500 European adults| those who enjoyed a serving or more of European-style yogurt every day (either low fat or full fat| but with less added sugars compared to US varieties) were 20 percent less likely to become overweight and 38 percent less likely to become obese during the six-year follow-up compared to those who ate less than two servings of yogurt each week. How could thick and creamy Greek yogurt whittle your middle? The researchers believe that the protein| calcium| and probiotics may all play a role.

Plain Greek yogurt is your best bet because it’s strained to lose the watery whey and some of the natural sugars. It has roughly twice the protein as traditional yogurt (a cup of plain Greek yogurt packs 24 grams of protein| as much as four large eggs) and half the sugar (with only about eight to nine grams of natural dairy sugars and no added sugar).

Mangos

Mangos are not only delicious| but they’re also diet-friendly. A study in The Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences suggests that mango-eaters weighed less and had better diets than those who missed out on mangoes. This stone fruit contains many bioactive ingredients| including mangiferin| a compound that has been shown in preliminary research to help reduce body fat and control blood sugar levels. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition reports that mango added to the diets of rodents prevented weight gain and improved blood sugar and insulin levels when the animals were fed a high-fat diet to promote weight gain.

A cup of sliced mango has just 100 calories and 3 grams of filling fiber. Say| mmm| mango!

Pistachios (. . . and other nuts)

Go ahead| get a little nutty! Despite being high in calories (160 to 170 calories per ounce)| nuts can be very slimming. Studies show that nut lovers are thinner than those who avoid or rarely eat nuts. Why? Nuts keep you fuller longer; their calories aren’t fully absorbed by the body| and nuts provide a modest boost to your metabolism| according to research.

In-shell pistachios provide a unique advantage for waistline-watchers. A preliminary study from Eastern Illinois University suggests that people who snacked on in-shell pistachios consumed 41 percent fewer calories than those who ate shelled pistachios. The authors say the empty shells might be a helpful visual cue about how much has been eaten| thereby encouraging you to eat less.

Nutritionist-Recommended Foods to Suppress Your Appetite Naturally

There may be no magic pill for weight loss, but dietician Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite For Health, stays on top of the science behind taming your appetite naturally. Here, she deciphers recent research and shares six foods that will keep your appetite in check.

Feel like you need some help with hunger management? You’re not alone. Most of my clients who struggle with weight loss or maintenance also struggle with hunger. Of course, it’s no coincidence ¡ª it’s hard to walk around feeling famished, particularly when you’re faced with the temptation of high-calorie treats everywhere you turn. No wonder willpower wilts!

Related: Eat These 6 Everyday Foods to Burn More Calories

The good news is that several new studies have identified compounds in certain foods that trigger the release of hormones in the stomach that help you feel full and neurotransmitters in the brain that suppress appetite and reduce cravings. Eating more of these foods can help keep your hunger in check, even as you cut calories to peel off pounds. It’s a weight-loss win-win!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry

Apples

An apple a day may keep extra pounds away, according to research that shows this fruit contains filling soluble fiber as well as ursolic acid, a natural compound that has been found to boost fat burning and which may promote lean muscle mass. In one study, researchers from the University of Iowa note that animals given ursolic acid supplements increased their muscle mass and energy expenditure (or calorie burn). And a study that was done on people and published in the journal Appetite shows that women who added three small apples (total calorie cost: 200) to their diet per day lost a little more than two pounds in 10 weeks ¡ª more than dieters who did not include the fruit in their diet.

Related: Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake: Guaranteed to Keep You Full Until Lunch

A medium apple has 95 calories and 6 grams of fiber; a small apple has 75 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber. Be sure to eat the whole apple, as the ursolic acid as well as beneficial antioxidants are concentrated in the skin.

Beans (. . . and peas, lentils, and chickpeas)

Beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas are a triple threat against hunger because they contain a lot of fiber; are excellent sources of slow-to-digest protein; and have a low glycemic index to keep blood sugar and carbohydrate cravings in check. A recent meta-analysis published in the journal Obesity indicates that people who ate about one cup (5.5 ounces) of legumes felt 31 percent fuller than those who didn’t eat these fiber-filled foods. Another study, published recently in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, reports that overweight people who ate a bean-rich diet lost nearly 10 pounds in 16 weeks while simultaneously improving their blood cholesterol levels.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

Eggs

Here’s some egg-citing news: eating a breakfast that’s rich in protein (20 to 30 grams) suppresses ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while elevating peptide YY and GLP-1, two hormones that enhance satiety, according to research. One study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that when subjects ate eggs for breakfast (versus equal-calorie breakfasts of either cereal or croissants), they consumed up to 438 fewer calories over the entire day. In fact, studies have found that an egg breakfast may help control hunger for a full 24 hours. (To keep blood cholesterol in check, you can enjoy one egg yolk per day and use egg whites for the additional protein they provide.)

Related: How Eggs Help With Weight Loss

Greek Yogurt

Need a reason to go Greek? A landmark study, published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, reports that among more than 8,500 European adults, those who enjoyed a serving or more of European-style yogurt every day (either low fat or full fat, but with less added sugars compared to US varieties) were 20 percent less likely to become overweight and 38 percent less likely to become obese during the six-year follow-up compared to those who ate less than two servings of yogurt each week. How could thick and creamy Greek yogurt whittle your middle? The researchers believe that the protein, calcium, and probiotics may all play a role.

Plain Greek yogurt is your best bet because it’s strained to lose the watery whey and some of the natural sugars. It has roughly twice the protein as traditional yogurt (a cup of plain Greek yogurt packs 24 grams of protein, as much as four large eggs) and half the sugar (with only about eight to nine grams of natural dairy sugars and no added sugar).

Mangos

Mangos are not only delicious, but they’re also diet-friendly. A study in The Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences suggests that mango-eaters weighed less and had better diets than those who missed out on mangoes. This stone fruit contains many bioactive ingredients, including mangiferin, a compound that has been shown in preliminary research to help reduce body fat and control blood sugar levels. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition reports that mango added to the diets of rodents prevented weight gain and improved blood sugar and insulin levels when the animals were fed a high-fat diet to promote weight gain.

A cup of sliced mango has just 100 calories and 3 grams of filling fiber. Say, mmm, mango!

Pistachios (. . . and other nuts)

Go ahead, get a little nutty! Despite being high in calories (160 to 170 calories per ounce), nuts can be very slimming. Studies show that nut lovers are thinner than those who avoid or rarely eat nuts. Why? Nuts keep you fuller longer; their calories aren’t fully absorbed by the body, and nuts provide a modest boost to your metabolism, according to research.

In-shell pistachios provide a unique advantage for waistline-watchers. A preliminary study from Eastern Illinois University suggests that people who snacked on in-shell pistachios consumed 41 percent fewer calories than those who ate shelled pistachios. The authors say the empty shells might be a helpful visual cue about how much has been eaten, thereby encouraging you to eat less.

Is Diet or Exercise More Important For Weight Loss?

I’ve always been active| but weight loss was never top of mind for me until I was a freshman in college. My first months away from home| I packed on some serious weight| but instead of cleaning up my diet| I started doing two-a-day cardio workouts| barely ate a bite all day| and binged on a calorie bomb late at night. The results? General exhaustion and minor| unsustainable weight loss. I wish I could say that I did my research| talked to a doctor| and changed my ways| but this vicious cycle continued for many| many years. Years later| I would kick my ass with an insane workout four or five times a week| and while I was stronger| I would not see any results on the scale or in my clothes. Things only changed when I was able to fully digest this fitness adage: “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

Related: Nutritionist-Recommended Foods to Suppress Your Appetite Naturally

There’s data to back up this claim. In meta-analysis from Behavioural Weight Management Review Group| researchers determined that over the course of a year| the combination of diet with exercise leads to sustainable weight loss| but over a six-month period| adding exercise made no difference to participants’ weight-loss success. Trainer Sam Kelman can vouch for this study’s efficacy. Despite her intense workout schedule| she couldn’t manage to shed the last 15 pounds she’d be holding on to. Without making any shifts to her workout routine| she let go of the weight she hadn’t been able to lose in just a few months by changing her diet| specifically in terms of portion control.

Related: I Started Saying No and Began Losing Weight

Weight loss is not my primary fitness goal right now| but for many years| it absolutely was. It was only when I got honest about my propensity to emotionally eat that I was able to take off weight| keep it off| and refocus my workout goals to improved energy and strength. I only wish I had gotten the memo sooner| so I could have saved myself from years of miserable yo-yo dieting and self-doubt about my ability to achieve my goal. It was celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser who helped me make the shift with a dose of tough love: “Put down the fork. No one needs to be eating five bowls of pasta a week and think that they’re going to get rid of saddlebags if they’re doing 500 leg raises. It’s just not going to happen.” A little harsh? Yes. But true? Unfortunately.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kat Borchart

Is Diet or Exercise More Important For Weight Loss?

I’ve always been active, but weight loss was never top of mind for me until I was a freshman in college. My first months away from home, I packed on some serious weight, but instead of cleaning up my diet, I started doing two-a-day cardio workouts, barely ate a bite all day, and binged on a calorie bomb late at night. The results? General exhaustion and minor, unsustainable weight loss. I wish I could say that I did my research, talked to a doctor, and changed my ways, but this vicious cycle continued for many, many years. Years later, I would kick my ass with an insane workout four or five times a week, and while I was stronger, I would not see any results on the scale or in my clothes. Things only changed when I was able to fully digest this fitness adage: “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

Related: Nutritionist-Recommended Foods to Suppress Your Appetite Naturally

There’s data to back up this claim. In meta-analysis from Behavioural Weight Management Review Group, researchers determined that over the course of a year, the combination of diet with exercise leads to sustainable weight loss, but over a six-month period, adding exercise made no difference to participants’ weight-loss success. Trainer Sam Kelman can vouch for this study’s efficacy. Despite her intense workout schedule, she couldn’t manage to shed the last 15 pounds she’d be holding on to. Without making any shifts to her workout routine, she let go of the weight she hadn’t been able to lose in just a few months by changing her diet, specifically in terms of portion control.

Related: I Started Saying No and Began Losing Weight

Weight loss is not my primary fitness goal right now, but for many years, it absolutely was. It was only when I got honest about my propensity to emotionally eat that I was able to take off weight, keep it off, and refocus my workout goals to improved energy and strength. I only wish I had gotten the memo sooner, so I could have saved myself from years of miserable yo-yo dieting and self-doubt about my ability to achieve my goal. It was celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser who helped me make the shift with a dose of tough love: “Put down the fork. No one needs to be eating five bowls of pasta a week and think that they’re going to get rid of saddlebags if they’re doing 500 leg raises. It’s just not going to happen.” A little harsh? Yes. But true? Unfortunately.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kat Borchart

7 Myths Nutritionists Wish You’d Stop Believing

There’s a lot of misinformation out there| but dietitian Julie Upton| MS| RD| of Appetite For Health| is here to shed light on seven nutritional myths that could mess with your weight-loss efforts and your health.

The Internet is like the Wild West when it comes to nutrition information: anything goes. Websites are rife with less-than-accurate nutrition facts| which only fuels food myths and adds to consumers’ confusion about which picks are the healthiest. At best| you can hope there’s a kernel of truth in what you’re reading| but more often than not| there’s no scientific basis for these myths. Below are seven of the most popular nutrition myths and the real deal on each.

Related: Look For These 46 Ways Added Sugar Can Appear on Your Food Label

Myth 1: You need to detox your body with a juice cleanse.

Fact: From celebrities to personal trainers| there’s no shortage of so-called experts advocating fasts or juice cleanses to detox. If you Google “detox|” you’ll get nearly 64 million results for diet programs and treatments that are supposed to help “flush out your system|” “remove toxic substances from the body|” “give your GI tract a rest|” or “speed up your metabolism” and “enhance your overall health.” But despite all the hype and popularity| there’s little proof that fasting or following a deprivation diet for several days actually delivers on any of the above promises.

While an occasional short fast or a day of following a “juice diet” won’t cause harm for most healthy people| it will likely leave you feeling cranky and hungry. If you really want to be and feel your best| eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables| get adequate sleep| and don’t drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Myth 2: Diet sodas make you gain weight.

Fact: While you may have read that diet beverages make you gain weight| a recent clinical trial found just the opposite. In the 12-week study| published in the journal Obesity| dieters who drank diet beverages lost 13 pounds on average 44 percent more than subjects drinking water only| who lost an average of nine pounds. What’s more| the diet-soda drinkers reported feeling more satisfied. This study adds to a substantial body of research demonstrating that low-calorie sweeteners and the diet beverages that contain them do not hinder but can in fact help with weight loss. Two peer-reviewed studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of North Carolina in 2012 and 2013 randomly assigned subjects to drink either water or diet beverages (without making any other changes to their diet). After six months| the diet-beverage group had a greater likelihood of reaching a meaningful amount of weight loss five percent of one’s body weight compared to the control group. These studies reinforce that if you’re trying to lose weight| diet beverages may help you peel off pounds| as they can help you achieve and maintain a lower-calorie eating plan.

Myth 3: Canola oil is made from rapeseed plants| which are toxic.

Fact: Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of canola plants not rapeseed plants| which are| in fact| harmful. Rapeseed oil contains high levels of erucic acid| which is linked to heart disease and therefore is not allowed to be sold in the US. While the two plants are cousins| they’re distinctly different in their composition. In the 1960s| farmers used breeding methods to help eliminate the erucic acid from canola plants| and canola oil is now regulated to contain negligible amounts of the compound| ensuring that canola oil is 100 percent safe. In fact| it also happens to be one of the healthiest oils (behind olive oil) because it has less saturated fat and more heart-protective omega-3s than other vegetable oils. Canola oil is just seven percent saturated fat compared to olive oil| which is 15 percent saturated fat.

Related: Confused About Added Sugars? Read a Nutritionist’s Advice on the Matter

Myth 4: Sea salt has less sodium than table salt and is mineral-rich.

Fact: Run-of-the-mill Morton table salt and gourmet Himalayan sea salt contain essentially the same amount of sodium per teaspoon 2|300 milligrams. As for minerals| neither contains enough of any mineral to make it a clear winner over the other. For instance| a teaspoon of table salt has just 1 mg calcium compared to 12 mg in sea salt. Since 12 mg is just one percent of your daily needs| it’s not a very healthy way to get calcium into your diet.

Most people believe that sea salt tastes better and| in some cases| you may be able to use less of it (and therefore reduce your sodium intake)| but it is by no means a lower-sodium and more mineral-rich option. Keep in mind| sea salt lacks iodine and not getting enough of this compound can lead to goiter| intellectual impairments| growth retardation| and much more. In fact| iodine deficiency is a serious health threat| especially among pregnant women| according to Boston University researchers| so don’t use sea salt exclusively in your diet.

Myth 5: Some foods| like celery| have negative calories.

Fact: When something sounds too good to be true| well| it probably is. Take “negative-calorie foods” as an example. The notion is that digesting certain foods burns more calories than those foods provide. The faulty logic of this urban legend is based on the scientifically proven thermic effect of food (TEF)| which simply means the amount of energy the body uses to digest a food. The thinking goes| if you were to eat a very low-calorie food common examples include celery| apples| and limes then you’d actually create a calorie deficit. In other words| these foods would end up costing less-than-zero calories.

Sadly| there are no negative-calorie foods. The TEF generally ranges from 10 percent to 20 percent of the calories in a food. So let’s say a celery stalk has seven calories. Even if you assume a 20 percent TEF| that means you’re still left with about five and a half calories.

Myth 6: It takes 21 days to break a bad habit (or form a new one).

Fact: Popular self-help gurus and many diet plans claim that it will take 21 days to form a new healthy habit or break a bad one. The truth is| there is no magical time frame for breaking bad habits. One study that evaluated behavior change found that creating a new habit| like eating a piece of fruit daily| took an average of 66 days. However| there were wide variations anywhere from 18 days to 254 days. The authors found the adaptation time was a function of how hard the new behavior is as well as the individual. If you’re trying something new| like daily exercise| give yourself time to make it a routine. It may not happen overnight ¡ª or even in 21 days!

Myth 7: Muscle can turn to fat ( . . . and vice versa).

Fact: You’ll often hear someone at the gym say something like| “Since my injury| my muscles have turned to mush.” But this isn’t the case because muscle and fat tissues are entirely different| and therefore they can never transform from one to the other. It’s the equivalent of saying you can turn water into wine or lead into gold.

What really happens when you stop exercising is that your muscle mass declines. And how you gain fat tissue is when you eat more calories than you burn off| which is much easier to do when you’re not exercising. And likewise| when you up your exercise routine| you’ll add lean tissue and might start burning excess body fat| but your fat didn’t turn into muscle.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

7 Myths Nutritionists Wish You’d Stop Believing

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, but dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite For Health, is here to shed light on seven nutritional myths that could mess with your weight-loss efforts and your health.

The Internet is like the Wild West when it comes to nutrition information: anything goes. Websites are rife with less-than-accurate nutrition facts, which only fuels food myths and adds to consumers’ confusion about which picks are the healthiest. At best, you can hope there’s a kernel of truth in what you’re reading, but more often than not, there’s no scientific basis for these myths. Below are seven of the most popular nutrition myths and the real deal on each.

Related: Look For These 46 Ways Added Sugar Can Appear on Your Food Label

Myth 1: You need to detox your body with a juice cleanse.

Fact: From celebrities to personal trainers, there’s no shortage of so-called experts advocating fasts or juice cleanses to detox. If you Google “detox,” you’ll get nearly 64 million results for diet programs and treatments that are supposed to help “flush out your system,” “remove toxic substances from the body,” “give your GI tract a rest,” or “speed up your metabolism” and “enhance your overall health.” But despite all the hype and popularity, there’s little proof that fasting or following a deprivation diet for several days actually delivers on any of the above promises.

While an occasional short fast or a day of following a “juice diet” won’t cause harm for most healthy people, it will likely leave you feeling cranky and hungry. If you really want to be and feel your best, eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, get adequate sleep, and don’t drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Myth 2: Diet sodas make you gain weight.

Fact: While you may have read that diet beverages make you gain weight, a recent clinical trial found just the opposite. In the 12-week study, published in the journal Obesity, dieters who drank diet beverages lost 13 pounds on average ¡ª 44 percent more than subjects drinking water only, who lost an average of nine pounds. What’s more, the diet-soda drinkers reported feeling more satisfied. This study adds to a substantial body of research demonstrating that low-calorie sweeteners and the diet beverages that contain them do not hinder but can in fact help with weight loss. Two peer-reviewed studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of North Carolina in 2012 and 2013 randomly assigned subjects to drink either water or diet beverages (without making any other changes to their diet). After six months, the diet-beverage group had a greater likelihood of reaching a meaningful amount of weight loss ¡ª five percent of one’s body weight ¡ª compared to the control group. These studies reinforce that if you’re trying to lose weight, diet beverages may help you peel off pounds, as they can help you achieve and maintain a lower-calorie eating plan.

Myth 3: Canola oil is made from rapeseed plants, which are toxic.

Fact: Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of canola plants ¡ª not rapeseed plants, which are, in fact, harmful. Rapeseed oil contains high levels of erucic acid, which is linked to heart disease and therefore is not allowed to be sold in the US. While the two plants are cousins, they’re distinctly different in their composition. In the 1960s, farmers used breeding methods to help eliminate the erucic acid from canola plants, and canola oil is now regulated to contain negligible amounts of the compound, ensuring that canola oil is 100 percent safe. In fact, it also happens to be one of the healthiest oils (behind olive oil) because it has less saturated fat and more heart-protective omega-3s than other vegetable oils. Canola oil is just seven percent saturated fat compared to olive oil, which is 15 percent saturated fat.

Related: Confused About Added Sugars? Read a Nutritionist’s Advice on the Matter

Myth 4: Sea salt has less sodium than table salt and is mineral-rich.

Fact: Run-of-the-mill Morton table salt and gourmet Himalayan sea salt contain essentially the same amount of sodium per teaspoon ¡ª 2,300 milligrams. As for minerals, neither contains enough of any mineral to make it a clear winner over the other. For instance, a teaspoon of table salt has just 1 mg calcium compared to 12 mg in sea salt. Since 12 mg is just one percent of your daily needs, it’s not a very healthy way to get calcium into your diet.

Most people believe that sea salt tastes better and, in some cases, you may be able to use less of it (and therefore reduce your sodium intake), but it is by no means a lower-sodium and more mineral-rich option. Keep in mind, sea salt lacks iodine ¡ª and not getting enough of this compound can lead to goiter, intellectual impairments, growth retardation, and much more. In fact, iodine deficiency is a serious health threat, especially among pregnant women, according to Boston University researchers, so don’t use sea salt exclusively in your diet.

Myth 5: Some foods, like celery, have negative calories.

Fact: When something sounds too good to be true, well, it probably is. Take “negative-calorie foods” as an example. The notion is that digesting certain foods burns more calories than those foods provide. The faulty logic of this urban legend is based on the scientifically proven thermic effect of food (TEF), which simply means the amount of energy the body uses to digest a food. The thinking goes, if you were to eat a very low-calorie food ¡ª common examples include celery, apples, and limes ¡ª then you’d actually create a calorie deficit. In other words, these foods would end up costing less-than-zero calories.

Sadly, there are no negative-calorie foods. The TEF generally ranges from 10 percent to 20 percent of the calories in a food. So let’s say a celery stalk has seven calories. Even if you assume a 20 percent TEF, that means you’re still left with about five and a half calories.

Myth 6: It takes 21 days to break a bad habit (or form a new one).

Fact: Popular self-help gurus and many diet plans claim that it will take 21 days to form a new healthy habit ¡ª or break a bad one. The truth is, there is no magical time frame for breaking bad habits. One study that evaluated behavior change found that creating a new habit, like eating a piece of fruit daily, took an average of 66 days. However, there were wide variations ¡ª anywhere from 18 days to 254 days. The authors found the adaptation time was a function of how hard the new behavior is as well as the individual. If you’re trying something new, like daily exercise, give yourself time to make it a routine. It may not happen overnight ¡ª or even in 21 days!

Myth 7: Muscle can turn to fat ( . . . and vice versa).

Fact: You’ll often hear someone at the gym say something like, “Since my injury, my muscles have turned to mush.” But this isn’t the case because muscle and fat tissues are entirely different, and therefore they can never transform from one to the other. It’s the equivalent of saying you can turn water into wine or lead into gold.

What really happens when you stop exercising is that your muscle mass declines. And how you gain fat tissue is when you eat more calories than you burn off, which is much easier to do when you’re not exercising. And likewise, when you up your exercise routine, you’ll add lean tissue and might start burning excess body fat, but your fat didn’t turn into muscle.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

This Is the Diet to Go on If You Want to Lose Weight (According to Harvard Researchers)

If you want to lose weight| what’s on your plate is often more important than the minutes you spend in the gym. And if you want to see the most change| a new study from Harvard says you should be cutting carbs| not fat.

Related: Low-Carb Dinner Recipes You’ll Want to Add to Your Rotation

For the study| published in PLoS One| researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed 53 randomized trials of over 68|000 patients who had been assigned to either low-fat or low-carb diets. They found that low-carb diets were consistently better at helping patients lose weight than low-fat diets; the participants on the low-carb diets lost 2.5 pounds more than those on low-fat diets| with the average weight loss among all groups at about six pounds.

This latest study on the weight-loss benefits of a low-carb diet adds further evidence that if you want to lose weight| ditching bread ¡ª not olive oil ¡ª can help you see success. Another recent study| for example| showed that dieters who ate fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates per day lost about eight pounds more than dieters who were put on a low-fat diet. Other studies have shown that high-carb diets may be the real heart-disease culprit| not saturated fat. All in all| this new review is a good reminder that if you want to lose weight| you should choose a diet rich in healthy fats| lean proteins| and fresh produce. Of course| not all fats are created equal ¡ª find out which healthy fats you should be incorporating into your diet here.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts

This Is the Diet to Go on If You Want to Lose Weight (According to Harvard Researchers)

If you want to lose weight, what’s on your plate is often more important than the minutes you spend in the gym. And if you want to see the most change, a new study from Harvard says you should be cutting carbs, not fat.

Related: Low-Carb Dinner Recipes You’ll Want to Add to Your Rotation

For the study, published in PLoS One, researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed 53 randomized trials of over 68,000 patients who had been assigned to either low-fat or low-carb diets. They found that low-carb diets were consistently better at helping patients lose weight than low-fat diets; the participants on the low-carb diets lost 2.5 pounds more than those on low-fat diets, with the average weight loss among all groups at about six pounds.

This latest study on the weight-loss benefits of a low-carb diet adds further evidence that if you want to lose weight, ditching bread ¡ª not olive oil ¡ª can help you see success. Another recent study, for example, showed that dieters who ate fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates per day lost about eight pounds more than dieters who were put on a low-fat diet. Other studies have shown that high-carb diets may be the real heart-disease culprit, not saturated fat. All in all, this new review is a good reminder that if you want to lose weight, you should choose a diet rich in healthy fats, lean proteins, and fresh produce. Of course, not all fats are created equal ¡ª find out which healthy fats you should be incorporating into your diet here.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts