Top 5 Lifestyle Changes People are Making to Achieve Weight Loss

With obesity rates on the rise, more and more Americans are making efforts to manage their weight through lifestyle changes. The Harris Poll conducted an online consumer survey in November 2016 for the Calorie Control Council of over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older to learn what changes in lifestyle people have made to achieve their weight loss goals.  A variety of methods are being utilized by people attempting to manage their weight.

The most prevalent change that people have made is to consume more water.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans reported that they drink more water to help achieve weight management goals.  Drinking water can help manage weight for a few reasons.  Water itself can curb appetite by filling up your stomach.  Also, thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so drinking water may satiate what you perceived as hunger but was really thirst.  Lastly, when selecting what beverage to consume, water is often used to replace higher calorie drinks which will reduce overall calorie intake.

Fifty-five percent of Americans said that they exercise and are more active. To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. Exercising in combination with calorie reduction is an extremely effective way to lose and manage your weight. When choosing what type of exercise to do, I favor combining cardio with weight-strengthening exercises to build muscle and endurance.  Building muscle can increase your metabolism, which makes it easier to lose weight and burn calories.

Forty-seven percent of Americans stated that they eat smaller portions to control their weight.  Portion size is often overestimated. A typical sized dinner plate is too large and will lead to taking portions that are too large.  To give you some examples, one serving of grains is half a cup of cooked brown rice or whole grain pasta. That is roughly the size of your clenched fist.  The typical serving size of a meat or fish is 3 ounces, which is the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards.

Just over one quarter of Americans (28%) said that they use reduced-sugar or sugar free products. Substituting sugar-sweetened drinks and regular sodas for low calorie sweetened beverages can really make an impact on total daily calorie consumption. Swapping out sugar-sweetened foods or snacks like sugary, flavored yogurt for low calorie sweetened foods will help you achieve your weight management goals.

Weighing yourself more frequently is a good measure to take to keep an eye on your overall weight trends. Twenty-seven percent of Americans reported that they weigh themselves more often to help them reach their weight management goals. Keeping an eye on your weight once a week is a way to mark your progress and keep any upward rises in weight in check.

Overall, this survey demonstrates that effective methods are being utilized to lose weight.

Survey Method
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Calorie Control Council from November 16-18, 2016 among 2,074 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Stan Samples at the Calorie Control Council,

Keri Peterson, MD is a medical contributor and columnist for Women’s Health and a frequent guest on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News and CNN. Based in New York City, Dr. Peterson has been in private practice since 1999 and holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center. With a BA from Cornell University and a Medical Degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Peterson is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association, and serves as a medical advisor for the Calorie Control Council.

Using Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners in a “Transition Diet”

Making an extreme dietary change makes great headlines, clickbait, and party conversation. 

I prefer the real world of small changes.  Call them “baby steps” if you like.  I prefer baby steps when dealing with lifestyle changes because baby steps are easier to make, and they are less taxing and stressful, to both our bodies and our emotions. 

Best thing about making baby steps?  Behavior research has long shown that making small, gradual changes to be the most lasting and permanent.  Ask any registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) who provides dietary counseling or medical nutrition therapy.  We always look for a “win-win”, and making small dietary changes is both easier and more permanent: a win-win.

Making small, gradual dietary changes also takes longer.  Progress is less dramatic, but I will swap “dramatic” for “permanent” any day.  Does it take more persistence and patience?  I would say it “teaches” patience and persistence.

When I hear someone say they are going to “cut out all the added sugars from my diet,” the first thing I want to ask is, “How long are you going to give yourself to do that?”   It does not have to be done suddenly, especially since doing it suddenly may produce failed results.  Transitioning to your dietary goals more gradually may take longer, but there is no need to rush and IU want them to enjoy the journey.

Where LCS fit into transitional diets

The single largest source of added sugars in our diets is from beverages: soda, flavored waters, iced tea, fruit-flavored drinks, etc.  These beverages don’t provide much nutrition, just calories.  You may want to switch over to just water as your primary beverage.  That’s great and I’m a huge fan of drinking water.  If you don’t drink much water, it’s time to start.

Replacing added sugar however, can start immediately, and may have to, in those newly diagnosed with diabetes or someone who is seriously overweight.  It’s unrealistic to expect someone to go “all-water” immediately, especially when there are other calorie-free options. 

Drinks with LCS, whether carbonated, non-carbonated, or hot or iced tea or coffee, also count toward your hydration, and can be considered “water-alternatives.”  Here’s why:

  • They all have no calories and are sugar-free.
  • They are hydrating.
  • They are TOOLS for reducing total added sugars in your diet.

It is still good to drink water, but know that these are alternatives that can help make the transition to drinking more water much easier and more enjoyable. 

Variety: The Sweetness of Life

You do not have to be living with diabetes or be overweight to enjoy the benefits of beverages with LCS.  Even people who have transitioned to drinking more water and unsweetened beverages like variety sometimes.  A drink with a LCS brings that variety without any added calories.

Those with Diabetes and anyone trying to lose weight or reduce their daily calories deserve to have access to as wide a variety of tools as possible to help them achieve their goals. 

Concerned that beverages with LCS will hamper your efforts to eat a better diet or make it harder to steer away from sweets?  No worries, according to the conclusions of the C.H.O.I.C.E. (Choosing Healthy Options Consciously Everyday) study.  This study looked at groups that replaced their sugar-sweetened drinks with either water or diet beverages for six months.  Compared to the all-water drinkers, the group using diet beverages showed:

  • Greater reduction in consumption of caloric drinks.
  • Ate FEWER desserts than the water group.
  • No evidence that the diet beverages increased a preference for sweet foods or drinks.

Bottom Line Takeaways:

  • It’s great to drink water as your primary beverage. 
  • Water isn’t the only way to get water or to hydrate. 
  • Replacing your sugar-sweetened drinks with both water and some drinks sweetened with LCS may make your diet more palatable and enjoyable, and leave you feeling less deprived. 

Feeling less deprived may even help you avoid high-calorie snacks and desserts a little more.  Use all the tools you can to make your transition diet as easy to follow as possible.

Keith Ayoob, EdD, RDN, FADN, is an Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a pediatric nutritionist and registered dietitian, Dr. Ayoob is also a past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dr. Ayoob is a consultant with the Calorie Control Council Advisory Board and the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), GSI is supported by PureCircle Ltd, a global leader in purified stevia leaf extract production.

Hidden Calories — Spotting Them So You Can Avoid Them

April 8, 2019 — After filling their dinner plates with too much food, people are often quick to confess that their eyes were bigger than their stomach.  However, problems lie not only in our perception of portion sizes, but also in what our eyes don’t always see – hidden calories in foods and beverages. These are seemingly negligible bites and sips consumed throughout the day that can add up to hundreds of excess calories. Over time, hidden calories can add up to several pounds and have a serious impact on health. Here are some of the most common sources of hidden calories, many of which can be avoided or replaced with lower-calorie alternatives.

  • Gourmet Coffee Drinks – While that daily caramel latte is slowly emptying your wallet, it may also be slowly adding on to your waistline. Unless you request otherwise, coffee shop beverages are typically made with whole milk. In addition, people often forget to take into consideration the addition of flavored syrups – just one pump of flavored syrup packs approximately 20 calories and five grams of sugar! If you can’t fathom facing your work day without your daily coffee indulgence, opt for a smaller serving size, low- or no-fat milk, and ask for sugar-free syrups. You might even consider taking sweetening into your own hands by grabbing some packets of low-calorie sweeteners as you run out the door!
  • Snacks to “Hold You Over” – It’s 4 o’clock. You had a salad for lunch and your stomach feels empty, yet you still need to power through several more hours of work. We’ve all been there. The problem is, while those snacks you reach for to “hold you over” until dinner seem harmless, they can pack in as many calories as a small meal. Many protein bars contain more than 250 calories, and 4 ounces (i.e., handful) of trail mix adds about 260 calories. Thankfully, there are many convenient snacks that pack in the protein and fiber necessary to keep you going until your next meal, but don’t contain too many calories. Look for low calorie sweeteners on the label, for the sweet taste without the calories that come with sugar.
  • Smoothies – While some smoothies contain mostly fruit and water or juice, most include additional syrups or sweeteners. If you’re out, consider whether the large amount of liquid calories will actually keep you full and opt for a sugar-free drink or water to control your calorie intake. Better yet, if it’s specifically a smoothie you’re craving, try making one at home. Many of us own blenders, and it’s easy to purchase calorie-free sweeteners and syrups online and in some stores.
  • Sauces – When counting calories, people usually look at the core components of what is on their plates. They don’t usually take into consideration the hefty squeeze from the ketchup bottle on the table, or the extra side of barbecue sauce that takes grilled meats from good to great. It’s important to realize that these condiments contribute calories as well. At the same time, recognize that the key to maintaining a balanced diet isn’t just about controlling calories, it’s also about enjoying the foods you eat and how they make you feel. If you want to lay on your favorite sauce, go for it. Just look for ways to save calories elsewhere, such as low- or no-calorie beverages, smaller portion sizes or skipping dessert.