Weight loss and weight maintenance are top concerns for most of us, but there are so many rumors and fads out there that it's hard to keep track of what really works. We've sorted through the claims by talking to registered dietitians and doctors and reading the most recent studies to give you trustworthy answers to top weight loss questions, including:

How do I conquer a food craving?

Should I cut carbs to lose weight?

Is it true that eating after 8 p.m. makes you put on pounds?

How often should I weigh myself?

Get all the answers here.

1. Is it okay to eat after 8 p.m.?
It is definitely okay to eat after 8 p.m. There is no magic hour after which anything you put in your mouth will suddenly cause you to gain weight! It’s not when you eat, but what you eat later in the day that can cause your body to store fat. If you’re hungry after sundown or haven’t yet had your dinner, eat! Just make this a lighter meal, like a fresh, leafy green salad with some chopped chicken. It will be much easier to sleep if your body isn’t trying to digest a heavy, high-calorie meal. If you’re snacking mindlessly in front of the TV all night, that’s when you’ll notice the scale going up.

2. Is it expensive to eat clean?
Eating clean is doable on a budget. Here’s how:
  1. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.
  2. Don’t fall for overpriced pre-cut, packaged produce or “100 calorie” snack packs. Instead, make your own. Divide nuts or chopped veggies into containers so they’re more convenient.
  3. Purchase only what you think you will use and try splitting items with a clean-eating friend. For example, one week you get the bundle of mixed greens while your friend gets the container of strawberries – divide them and share!
When shopping for groceries, consider what the cost of your health will be in the future if you don’t eat clean and exercise today.
3. Diet programs often say you should eat more slowly. Does this really help with weight loss?
It's not clear from studies whether eating slowly helps people eat less food. "It's worth a try, however, to slow down and tune in to knowing when the food has satisfied you -- especially if you are a fast eater," says Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., author of Thin for Life, Eating Thin for Life and Thin for Life Daybook (Houghton Mifflin Co.). As with any strategy, if it doesn't help, you can abandon it.

4. How do I figure out how many calories I should be eating?
If you're healthy and you exercise moderately two or three days a week, you can figure out your calorie intake by multiplying your ideal body weight (IBW) by 14.
If you're trying to lose pounds, your IBW is your goal weight; for maintenance, your IBW is your current weight. For instance, if you weigh 135 pounds and you want to maintain that, you need about 1,890 (135 x 14) calories per day. This is a very rough calculation; for a more accurate assessment, have your metabolic rate tested by a fitness professional.

5. Why is it harder to lose weight each time you gain it back?
 "Because no matter how you drop pounds -- whether it's through dieting, exercise, or a combination of both -- you will inevitably lose some muscle, and that slows down your basal metabolic rate," explains Jackie Newgent, R.D., a New York City based nutrition consultant. Strength training with weights throughout your weight loss period can help preserve a lot but not necessarily all of it. "Then, when you regain the weight, you'll most likely put on more fat than muscle, which reduces your percentage of lean body mass, leaving you with a slower metabolism than you had prior to the weight loss."
It's the well studied yo yo effect, and the only solution is to maintain your new weight with as much determination and diligence as it took to drop the pounds in the first place. In fact, some experts now contend that keeping your weight consistent -- even if you're carrying around a few extra pounds -- may be more important to preserving your long term health than slimming down. Chronic yo yo dieting throughout your life can cause damage to your heart.

6. How do I control my portion sizes?
Many of us underestimate how much we are eating. Here’s how you can start to accurately measure your portion sizes.
  1. Break out the measuring cups, tablespoons, and even consider purchasing a kitchen scale.
  2. Be diligent in measuring and weighing out everything, such as brown rice, almonds, meat and cereal, until you get a sense of what a proper serving looks like.
  3. If you’re dining out, a general rule of thumb is to keep the starch and protein sources to a quarter of your plate, and load up the other half with non-starchy veggies.
  4. Log what you eat until you get into a healthy eating routine. Whether it’s on plain old paper or in a smartphone app, you may be less likely to go back for extras if you have to own up and record it!
And many more as we speak..
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