Tips for maintaining weight loss

You’ve lost the weight; congratulations! While initially losing the weight may seem like the hard part, keeping the weight off can be just as challenging sometimes. Maintaining weight is all about staying motivated, keeping good habits going, and constantly adjusting your new skills and knowledge for challenging situations. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping the weight off — for good!

1. Calculate an alarm weight.

An alarm weight is the weight at which some serious action should be taken to stop and reverse gradual weight regain before it gets out of control. A good alarm weight is 20 percent of the pounds you have lost. For example, if you started at 200 pounds and lost 20 (now 180), your alarm weight would be 184 pounds.

2. Weight plateaus are normal.

Now that you weigh less, your body may need fewer calories. To keep losing weight or to maintain your new weight you may need to further lower your daily calorie intake or increase your physical activity.

3. Keep slips in perspective.

One slip, no matter how large is not going to ruin all of your progress. Keep your slips in perspective, and get back on track at the very next possible moment, not the next day. Slips are learning experiences and can help you come up with plans and strategies that will work better than the one you tried when the slip happened the first time.

4. Continue some form of tracking.

Whether it is a weekly weigh-in, continued calorie tracking, or logging workouts, tracking is a great way to monitor progress and keep up motivation.

5. Reward yourself!

Now that you have met your initial weight-loss goal, reward yourself! Using non-food rewards to continue to motivate yourself is a great way to keep the weight off. Some examples of rewards could be a weekend trip, manicures, new shoes, a trip to the movies, etc.

6. Weigh yourself every week.

The National Weight Control Registry, an investigation of individuals who have had success at long-term successful weight-loss maintenance (who have all lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year) found that 75 percent of successful weight-loss maintainers weigh themselves at least once a week.

7. Eat breakfast every day.

The National Weight Control Registry also found that 78 percent of successful weight loss maintainers ate breakfast every day.

8. Limit screen time.

The average American watches 28 hours of TV per week, but 62 percent of people in the National Weight Control Registry, watch 10 or fewer hours per week. Instead of watching TV after work, take a walk, try a new healthy dinner recipe, or read that book you’ve been dying to finish.

9. Eat fiber!

Fiber is found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber is not digested and will help you feel fuller, longer. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber.

10. Have a team of cheerleaders and role models.

Surround yourself with people who value the same healthy lifestyle you do. Find a gym buddy, someone to swap recipes with, or even someone who will hold you accountable to your weekly weigh in.


Keeping these tips in mind, you can continue to live a happy, healthy lifestyle while maintaining the weight you worked so hard to reach!



National Childhood Obesity Month

National Childhood Obesity Month | UPMC Health Plan

September is National Childhood Obesity Month. Its focus is on improving the health of our children, the next generation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one of every five children, or about 17 percent, are faced with obesity. It’s a serious health concern for many reasons.

  • Studies have shown that children who are obese have a higher risk of becoming an obese adult.
  • Being obese as a child can lead to lifelong chronic conditions and complications like type 2 diabetes and increased risk of some cancers.
  • Children with obesity-related issues also are at a higher risk of being singled out or bullied, which can have damaging effects throughout life.

As a parent, there are some steps you can take to help reduce your child’s risk of having weight-related issues.

  • Talk to your doctor about your child’s risk factors.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of making healthy choices like limiting screen time, eating fruits and vegetables, having reasonable portions, and being active.
  • Involve your child in preparing and cooking healthy meals.
  • Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity as a family each day.
  • Rolemodel good behavior; after all, your children are always watching.
  • Involve your child in choosing healthy meals and snacks for the entire family.
  • Avoid depriving your child of their favorite foods or labeling any food as “bad.” Instead talk about the importance of balance and moderation.

How to talk to your child about a healthy lifestyle:

  • Remember to reinforce positive behaviors and talk to your child about the benefits such as the energy they have or how they feel.
  • Avoid using the word diet, fat, or any other negative words surrounding this topic.
  • Encourage your child to do things they enjoy as well as step out of their comfort zone and try new things.

Encouraging our children to live a healthy lifestyle will pay off for years to come. What suggestions do you have for parents? Share your comments below.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Weight loss tips for men

Weight Loss Tips for Men | UPMC Health Plan

Listen up, gentlemen. Summer is here, and it’s time to look great in your swimsuit. Winter is long gone, so let’s get some of that winter weight off. What is the fastest way to get the weight off? Is there a special shake or a magic pill that can melt the weight? Is there an all-in-one exercise routine that can burn the extra weight in a week? The answer to all of those questions is no. It takes a good balance of nutrition and physical activity to lose weight.

I had definitely been victimized by winter weight gain until I started signing up for different races throughout the year. This motivated me to stay in good physical shape and eat a healthy balanced diet. In fact, the race that helps keep me going through the winter months is the Pittsburgh Marathon. Preparing for that race is one of my strategies for fighting winter weight.

If you’re not a runner here are some other tips you can try for managing a healthier weight:

  1. Eat more fruit. Fruits offer a number of different nutrients that are good for the body. Fruits can also assist in managing cravings for something sweet.
  2. Eat more vegetables. Vegetables offer your body the different nutrients it needs to function, plus they will help you fill up and stay full longer. Just be careful of high-calorie dressings and dips.
  3. If you drink alcohol, reduce your intake. Alcohol contains empty calories that do not provide your body with nutrients. Cutting down is an excellent way to assist with the weight loss.
  4. Stay hydrated with water. Water is essential for proper body function. Water is not only good for us, but it also fills us up.
  5. Use a smartphone app or a notebook to track what you eat. Keeping a food log will help you learn more about your eating habits and help you improve them. A food log will also create a sense of accountability regarding how much you eat and the choices you make.
  6. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can make it difficult for your body to maintain a normal blood sugar level to prevent getting hungry. When you skip a meal, you are more likely to give in to a craving.
  7. Plan and know what you are going to order at a restaurant. There will be times when you meet a group of friends or family at a restaurant. Plan what you are going to order and stick with that decision. If it helps, try to be one of the first people to order.
  8. Build in activity on your vacation. Vacations can sometimes get in the way of our physical activity and eating routine. You want to enjoy your vacation as much as possible, but you should also plan some built-in activities. Examples include taking a walk on the beach or on the boardwalk, going kayaking or biking and much more.
  9. Have a set exercise routine for the week. Set up a good routine throughout the week. If possible, include a workout buddy to help you stay motivated to stick to your routine. Add a variety of activities to help keep you from getting bored.
  10. Avoid negative food cues and create positive food cues. Having snacks that are high in fat and calories around your desk or at your house can present unnecessary challenges. Have fruits or keep pre-cut vegetables on hand to create a positive food cue. When high-fat and high-calorie foods aren’t available, you’ll be less tempted to eat them.

The reason willpower doesn’t always work

16MKT0134 postImage - Willpower

Have you ever starting thinking about making a lifestyle change and thought, “I can do this! I have willpower to accomplish my goal!” Then days, hours, even minutes later, you notice your “willpower” dwindling? Let’s take losing weight as an example. You think to yourself, “It’s finally time to lose this weight and keep it off! No more cakes, cookies, pizza, etc.”

There is a reason it might not be so easy to say “no” or avoid your favorite foods by just using willpower. Our environment has a lot to do with how easy or how difficult reaching a goal (like losing weight) can be.

B.J. Skinner, a pioneer for behavioral psychology, emphasized how environment impacts our behavior. We have cues (positive and negative) surrounding us all the time. Use those cues to B.Y.O.E (Build Your Own Environment). It is much easier to succeed when we have a plan in place and a positive environment surrounding us. Review the “Use Your Cues: How to Replace Unhealthy Habits” post for more information.

Skinner suggests that the key to success is not how strong your willpower is, but how you reward yourself after reaching small goals. When you take a deeper look at your behavior, ask yourself whether it is much harder to wait for a larger reward — like losing a few pounds in a few weeks — versus a small reward now — like a bag of your favorite potato chips after a stressful day. That larger reward, like losing weight, is not as “certain” as the smaller reward right now.

It is also important to note that “willpower” works better when an outside consequence is present. Think of a deadline at work. We are able to complete the work more diligently when there is a concrete consequence. It’s different with making a lifestyle change. The larger consequence is less “known.” Health is much less concrete than a deadline at work. That’s why sometimes it’s easier to “give in” to the extra snacks or treats.

So what do you do?

  1. B.Y.O.E. or build an environment that allows you to succeed. It includes positive cues and rewarding yourself frequently after meeting a small goal. For instance, buying your favorite magazine after tracking food choices for two days straight. These small goals will lead to a larger reward (like losing weight) but keep you motivated throughout.
  2. Write it down. The most important part is to follow through with your small reward. This will boost self-reinforcement and self-discipline. Make sure the nonfood reward feels satisfying or is something that you will look forward to.
  3. Tell someone. It will provide accountability and serve as a consequence if you don’t follow through with the small goal.

Weight loss basics- tips to keep you on track

16MKT0078 postImage - Weight Loss Basics

By Linda Dansevicus

It has been a few months since we made those New Year’s resolutions. As we settle into routines, it can be difficult to stay dedicated to losing weight. When it comes to staying motivated and continuing to lose weight, stick to the basics.

It can be easy to “buy in” to all the fad diets or programs that require a lot of money or include lots of restrictions. Remember, there are no shortcuts! It’s important to focus on energy balance, physical activity, and problem solving when losing weight.

Here are some reminder strategies:

Create a calorie deficit

When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to consume less calories than we use. We are using calories throughout the day for our organs to work, blood to pump, etc. It’s important to replenish those calories with whole foods and record daily calorie totals in order to create a deficit.

Track calories and fat grams.

Apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt! are great tools for tracking calorie amounts and fat grams. Make sure to include all food choices and pay attention to serving size on the nutrition fact label. Calories and fat grams will depend on how much of a food you consume.

Get moving.

Physical activity is an important component of weight loss, but it is very difficult to “out run” calories from high-calorie, high-fat eating. For instance, running 1 mile burns about 100 calories (depending on weight, gender, etc.).

Physical activity is the best predictor of managing a healthy weight long-term, but it’s important to stick to calorie goals without “adding” calories back in for physical activity. Getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week helps reduce the risk for chronic conditions and improves quality of life.

Plan healthy meals and snacks

In addition to recording our food choices, planning and preparation are important components to help stay on track during the day. It’s easy to get off track during a stressful day or a busy schedule. Planning healthy snacks and meals makes food choices one less
 “hassle.” Use ChooseMyPlate for helpful information regarding a balanced diet. For meals, try to recreate the ChooseMyPlate diagram. Make half of your plate fruits or vegetables, one quarter lean protein, and one quarter whole grains. When planning snacks, think about each food group to have on hand. It is best to get our calories from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Websites like and the American Heart Association provide helpful recipes and snack options for creative ideas. You can also download our free meal planning worksheet to organize choices, here.

Stay motivated.

It can be difficult to stay on track with planning and physical activity from week to week. Keep in mind, your progress and food choice does not have to be perfect! Finding healthy substitutes for the foods you love and getting back on track immediately after a slip-up are some great ways to continue seeing results. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I will just start again tomorrow, since I had a high calorie choice for lunch.” Instead, go for a quick walk at work or choose a lighter meal for dinner that night.


Managing weight is a long-term lifestyle change. It’s important to have a good support system, whether that be a friend, family member, partner, coworker, pet, etc. Having someone in your corner can be a great tool for problem solving and staying motivated to reach your goals. In addition, think of some non-food rewards, like a magazine, downloading a new song, etc., to look forward to after meeting your food tracking or physical activity goals.

Managing weight is a lifestyle change that can alleviate health conditions and improve quality of life. When it comes to losing weight, remember, there are no shortcuts. Go back to the basics with managing food choices, staying creative, tracking progress, and preparing for slips.


Health Coaches are available if you are a UPMC Health Plan member. Give us a call at 1-855-395-8762 to help set realistic goals and stay on track with our structured lifestyle programs. Text message reminders are also available and provide healthy tips to help keep you motivated to stay on track. Text the keyword “lose” to 876247 for daily or weekly tips.

Power through a weight loss or fitness plateau

16MKT0115 postImage - Power through a weight loss or fitness plateau

You’ve been doing great with your new weight loss and fitness plan, and you have been dropping pounds and feeling great. But then it just stopped. Sound familiar? Have you hit what you think might be a plateau? The great news is this period of stagnation doesn’t have to last long, and with a few considerations your weight may be back on the decline in no time!

Stalled results can happen for a number of reasons, but overall it happens because your body has adapted to the changes you have made, and it may be time for new or different approach. Here are our tips for tackling a weight-loss or fitness plateau.

Weight loss motivation tips

1. Reevaluate your tracking.

The biggest part of having success in any lifestyle change you make is paying attention to details — all of them — especially tracking. Studies show that people who log their calories and activity are more successful than those who don’t. So if this has fallen off, pick it up again.

2. Cut additional calories.

If you started out losing weight by making a small change, you may be ready to commit to making bigger ones. If you weren’t tracking calories to begin with, start now. Next, slowly reduce your calorie ranges. It’s important though to not go fewer than 1,200 calories per day, so call your MyHealth health coach for guidelines to safely get started.

3. Ramp up your activity.

Activity plays a role in losing weight, so it’s important to monitor its time, type, and intensity. If you started off strong, it may be time to add additional minutes or increase the intensity by adding intervals. If you are just focused on cardiovascular activity, you may want to consider adding in strength training to help to start to build muscle mass.

Fitness motivation tips

1. Try new activities.

Routine can be the enemy! To rise above a fitness plateau, you will need to vary the intensity and type of activity so your body doesn’t adapt to doing the same thing over and over again. Remember to always keep it fun.

2. Add in strength training.

Strength training is an important element in a physical activity program. Building lean muscle mass is just as important as improving cardiovascular fitness, so if this has been neglected, call your MyHealth health coach for tips to safely get started with strength training.

3. Don’t overdo it.

Overtraining can lead to plateaus as well as injury. It’s important to take an honest look at your routine and evaluate if you are giving your body the essential time between workouts that it needs to recover.

General motivation tips

1. Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated plays an important role in both fitness and weight loss. The body uses water to maintain its temperature, lubricate the joints, remove waste, and much more. For most people water is best for hydration, but some foods such as fruits and vegetables also have high percentage of water.

2. Get a full night’s sleep.

A Harvard Sleep Study found middle-aged women who reported sleeping five hours or less per night were 32-percent more likely to gain 33 pounds or more than women who slept at least seven hours. Sleep is also essential in fitness as well, because the body needs adequate time between workouts to rest and repair for the next session. Losing sleep can impact all areas of health and wellness.

3. Manage Stress.

Stress can be both good and bad. It can be a positive force that helps us perform well, but it can also be a negative force that becomes chronic and leads to serious health conditions. Managing stress can help prevent stress eating — which is often connected to weight gain — and it can also leave you feeling energetic and ready to tackle your next workout.


When dealing with a plateau, it’s important to remember not to get discouraged. It’s normal for progress to eventually slow and even stall. The great news is that you now understand some of the factors that go into a plateau, and now you can decide how to adjust and get back on track!

Weight Loss after 50

16MKT0090 postImage -Weight Loss After 50

By Ellen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN

You may have heard that 50 is the new 30, but now that 50 is in your rearview mirror, you are finding that you are not losing weight like you did in your 30s.

As we age, we often lose muscle mass, and if we have less muscle and more fat, our metabolic rate slows. Staying active, eating right, and managing our stress can help us reach our weight loss goals.

Here are a few tips to help with your weight loss goals:

Understand the risks.

Weight that builds under the abdominal wall is hard on your health, as it is correlated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and can lead to diabetes.

Be clear on why you want to lose weight.

Studies find that writing down your goal can increase your chance of success. Use this to create a positive cue and place your goal in a visible spot in your kitchen, closet, or gym shoes!

Talk to your family and friends.

Going out to eat and attending events that include food can be challenging enough, but having tempting foods in your house can be a major barrier. Having a conversation with your family and friends first can reduce the risk of sabotaging your efforts.

Find an exercise routine you enjoy.

Muscle loss can mean a slower metabolism. Embracing weight training exercises, which help build muscle, can help make it more likely for you to lose weight. If you find you would prefer to have something that is easier on your joints, choose water exercises, walking, or low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as yoga, cycling, or kayaking. If you have any questions about doing an exercise properly, ask an athletic professional at your gym. Asking questions can help reduce the risk of injury and help you get the most of your workout. Be sure to first check with your physician before starting any new exercise routine.

Check your diet.

A slower metabolism means looking into what you are eating. To lose weight as we age, we need to eat fewer calories than we did when we were in our 20s or 30s. You can help make small changes in your diet, such as eating a daily breakfast that includes a protein such as Greek yogurt, eggs, or black beans. You can also reduce the amount of calories from added sugar in your diet by reducing desserts or sugar-sweetened beverages, eating fewer fried foods, or eating at restaurants less often.

Spice it up.

Try new foods and recipes, but understand that just because a recipe is healthier does not mean it is calorie-free! Try using quinoa instead of rice or plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in your meals.

Keep a healthy attitude.

As we get older, we may find we have more responsibilities both at work and at home. Sleeping more and finding ways to manage stress can help to reduce the risk of indulging in high-calorie foods and can help reduce the risk of other health problems.

Find support.

Having a friend to go to the gym with or someone who will try a new recipe can help with your chances of weight loss. You can also call a health coach to work on weight loss, better nutrition, improving your physical activity routine, or managing stress by calling 1-866-778-6073!


To achieve weight loss in your 50s, every exercise matters and every calorie counts. Creating a lifestyle that can help you work toward your weight loss goal can also help prevent against disease. If you want to know more about how to be successful at social gatherings, the importance of hydration, and meal planning, read about these weight loss 101 tips and more.

Weight loss resources for success

16MKT0080 postImage -Weight Loss Resources for Success

Losing and managing your weight can be difficult. With so much information out there and so many resources, how can you know what to choose? Where do you even start? And how can you continue to maintain the progress you have made over the long haul? Well, we hear you and we know that it can be a challenge, but with the right tools and resources at your fingertips and thinking about items you already use in a different way, you can be successful. Here are a few of our top weight-loss resources for success:

Your UPMC Health Plan Health Coach

If you have any questions or need help with your lifestyle change, contact one of our lifestyle health coaches. They can help you come up with a clear goal, create a plan to get there, make a lasting change, stay motivated, overcome obstacles and barriers, and so much more. To get started call a coach at 1-800-807-0751; Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or log into MyHealth OnLine to chat with a coach.

UPMC MyHealth OnLine

MyHealth OnLine is where UPMC Health Plan members can go for everyday practical tips, tools, and strategies for better health. MyHealth OnLine helps you stay motivated, stay in control of your goals, access important health education information and shared decision tools, and save money by using MyHealth rewards to find discounts at local business that encourage a healthy lifestyle. If you haven’t started your account, it only takes a few minutes. Click here to get started.

WebMD Food and Activity Tracker 

This interactive resource allows you to create a personalized weight loss goal based upon your weight and activity level. You can then create a plan, log your eating and activity, and even connect to resources to support your goals.

Your Smart Phone

Do you have a smart phone? Great! Then good health is just a fingertip away. All you need to do is download applications that track your goals like a calorie tracker, an activity counter, and a general health record.

Your TV “On Demand”

Did you know that one of the biggest reasons many of us skip exercise is because of lack of time? It’s true — followed by lack of knowledge about what to do. The great news is that your TV can be a tool and timesaver. Check with your cable provider to see your “on demand” options like cardio blast, yoga, and boot camp. Many are led by leading industry experts and get you through a session in less than 30 minutes!

Your Doctor

Getting started losing weight can seem overwhelming, especially if you have medical conditions. The great news is that you doctor can prescribe Prescription for Wellness, which is a free offering if you have UPMC Health Plan insurance. This program can help you determine where to start and then connect you with your own personal health coach.

Wearable Tracking Devices

Wearable devices collect personal data of all kinds and can be very beneficial when setting and reaching goals related to weight loss. Some trackers are simple, and some are very complex, so knowing what you want to track when shopping for one is very important. Common tracking capabilities include activity, food, sleep, and stress. They pair with your smartphone also allowing on-demand feedback and updates on progress.

The Library

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers a wealth of tools and resources for health and wellness ranging from books to DVDs and special programs and classes. Most public libraries offer similar resources for free or a small fee. Rather than purchasing a book or an exercise DVD, consider borrowing one instead.

Your Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

The Internet can be very useful in researching and finding tools to help support weight loss. Sites such as Eating Well, Choose MyPlate, and Eat Right are all excellent places to get started. The CDC also has a list of resources for managing weight.

So how will you use these tools and resources to get started today? Which ones are you already having success with? Share in the comments below to start the conversation and share advice with others!

Exercising with your baby

16MKT0070 postImage - Exercises to do with your baby

As a health coach, I often hear from my members that it is very difficult to fit physical activity into an already busy day. It’s hard to set aside the time to travel to the gym, spend the time there, spend the money for a membership, and go on a regular basis. As a new mom, I completely agree! Not to mention, I don’t want to spend one more minute away from my daughter than I absolutely have to.

One way to still fit in physical activity is to do it at home and include your baby! That little one aided in helping gain the pounds so why not help to get them off! First, I must mention that every woman MUST be cleared by her doctor before exercising after giving birth. Specifically discuss the type of activity you plan to do with your doctor. The exercises below are recommended to do with babies who have strong head and neck control. ALWAYS keep in mind the safety of your baby and yourself. Begin slowly. I thought lugging that extra weight around for nine months would make me stronger, but boy was I wrong! Try for ten repetitions of each exercise. As the days and weeks go on, gradually increase to 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.

1. Squats

Exercising with your baby- Squats | UPMC Health Plan


Begin with a wide base of support, your feet should be at least shoulder width apart and toes pointing forward. Hold baby in a comfortable position against your chest. As you squat down, keep your head and chest up and maintain a tight core. Your knees should never pass forward of your toes.

2. Planks

Exercising with your baby- Plank | UPMC Health Plan

Place baby at the top of the mat. Place your elbows on either side of baby’s feet shoulder width apart and your toes at the other end of the mat. Raise yourself and hold this position. Keep an eye on your baby and maintain a horizontal line from your back to your legs. Do not let your hips sag or peak. Do not place baby directly under you to prevent falling onto baby.

3. Bicep curl to shoulder press

Exercising with your baby- Bicep Curl | UPMC Health Plan

Begin with baby at your hips, raise baby to your chin then lift baby up. During the bicep curl your elbows should remain close to your body. As you then lift your baby, do not lose your posture — your arms are the only thing moving through the motion.

4. Push ups

Exercising with your baby- Push Ups | UPMC Health Plan

Place baby at the top of the mat and position your hands shoulder width apart on either side of baby’s feet. You may do a push up with knees bent or straight. Maintain a tight core and do not let your hips sag or peak. Do not place baby directly under you to prevent falling onto baby.

5. Chest press

Exercising with your baby- Chest Press | UPMC Health Plan

Lying on your back, place baby on your chest facing you. Keep your elbows close to your body and raise baby up as your extend your arms. Do not lock out your elbows. Lower baby back to starting position.

Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place baby in your lap with his or her back against your legs for support. Keep your hands on either side of your baby for additional support. Raise your shoulders off the ground and keep your chin extended. Return to your starting position.

6. Mountain climbers

Exercising with your baby- Mountain Climbers | UPMC Health Plan

Place baby at the top of the mat and position your hands shoulder width apart on either side of baby’s feet. Place your toes at the other end of the mat and push yourself up so that your arms are extended but not locked. Hold this position and raise your right knee toward your chest then return it to the starting position. Maintain a tight core. Do not let your hips sag or peak. Repeat the motion between your right and left knees. Do not place baby directly under you to prevent falling onto baby.



  • If your baby is anything like mine, you may have to get creative to keep the little one’s attention on the mat. I sing, make silly sounds, or have a toy handy to give to her!
  • When your baby is on the mat, it’s also a great time for some tummy time!
  • Don’t exercise with baby right after feeding. This can result in a very messy workout!


Weight loss myths busted

Weight Loss Myths Busted | UPMC Health Plan

Myth 1: All carbs are bad.

Truth: Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. There are three types of carbs; starches, sugars, and fiber. Starches are complex carbs and include foods like potatoes, corn, breads and cereals, and other grain products. Whole grains contain vitamins and minerals and also contain fiber. Sugars are simple carbs and include things like honey, agave, fruit and 100% fruit juice, milk, yogurt, and cheese. Fiber is a type of carb the body cannot digest and is found in fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Fiber can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It can also help you feel fuller on fewer calories.

Tip: Aim to make half of your grains whole grains and look for the term “100 percent whole grain” on the food label.

Myth 2: There are “negative calorie” foods.

Truth: All foods have calories. While it is true that the body uses energy to digest food, there is no study that has ever demonstrated, regardless of the dietary makeup of the food, that more calories are used to digest a food than the number of calories the food contains.

Tip: While no foods have negative calories, there are lists of low calorie snacks available. Check this list out for some low calorie snack options

Myth 3: You should avoid eating in the evenings or close to bedtime.

Truth: Eating at night has always been viewed as a habit that leads to weight gain. Generally speaking, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of when you eat it. What leads to weight gain is simply eating more calories than you burn. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weight Control Information Network website, “it does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.”

Tip: When eating late, pay extra attention to portions. It is easy to over eat snacks late at night. Measure out one serving and put it in a bowl. Put the rest away to avoid going back for more.

Myth 4: You should always choose the low fat versions of foods.

Truth: If your goal is to lose weight, “fat free” and “low fat” foods aren’t a magic-bullet solution. Here is what these terms actually mean:

  • “Fat-free” foods must have less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving.
  • “Low-fat” foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving.
  • “Reduced-fat” foods must have at least 25% less fat than regular versions of those foods.
  • “Light” foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat.

Sometimes manufacturers add in other ingredients like sugar, salt, and thickeners to maintain the flavor of the product, which can add calories. In addition, if the original product is extremely high fat, while it’s true the low-fat version may be a better option that the original, it still may not be a healthy choice when trying to lose weight.

Tip: Always read the food label of these foods to check calories, type of fat, and added ingredients!

Myth 5: Skipping meals will help me lose weight.

Truth: Skipping meals may help you lose weight initially, but that strategy will fail in the long run. Skipping meals may cause you to feel extra hungry later in the day and cause you to overeat during the meals you do eat. Instead, you should aim for a long-term meal plan that includes three to six meals or healthy snacks a day, consisting of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.

Tip: Try keeping healthy snacks in your desk or car so they are available in case you forget to pack a lunch or breakfast and are tempted to skip a meal. Veggies, fruits, or whole grain crackers are great options!


If you’re looking to reach a healthier weight ask your doctor about a prescription for wellness, or call 1-855-395-8762 to speak directly to a health coach to get started.