The Open Secret to Successful Dieting

No short-cuts involved, just straight-up arithmetic.

By Robert W Lash MDJun 6, 2007 5:00 AM


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As anendocrinologist, I spend a lot of time talking about carbohydrates withpatients who are trying to manage their diet—it goes with the territory. Butlet me tell you, fat seems to get equal talk time during my office hours. Andeven when I’m not talking about fat with patients, I’m thinking about itmyself.

I’m a guywho works out six times a week, has a family history of heart disease, eatsveggies and fish, and yet I still build holidays and birthday celebrationsaround sour cream–based dips. So when the Dietary Modification Trial—a recentstudy by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)—suggested that the link betweendieting and fat intake may not be as strong as we think, I was prepared to run,not walk, to the closest Whole Foods for some full-fat onion dip.

Hey, a guycan dream... but simple science still stands to reason that if you consumemore calories than you burn, you’re going to gain weight. I agree with the WHIstudy on several fat-related issues, and a big one is that it's tough reducingfat in your diet, and no fun at all to self-report fat intake accurately. TheWHI women assigned to the low-fat group had a goal to reduce their fat intakefrom 38 percent to 20 percent, but the group only made it to 29 percent.

My bestadvice to track what you eat accurately is to measure the food and write itdown. I realize this isn’t groundbreaking or new, but it works, and you don’thave to do this forever. Keep your tracking sheet on the fridge, inside yourPDA, or in a small notebook in your purse, and tally it up at the end of theday. Track your food for a week and try a week without journaling your food,and learn from the differences.

Robert W. Lash, M.D. is an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. His clinical interests include thyroid disease, diabetes, endocrine disorders in pregnancy, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease, and medical education. A member of the LLuminari team of experts, a board certified internist and endocrinologist, Dr. Lash has an active clinical practice and is a hospitalist at the University of Michigan.

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