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Healthy eating and exercise for life
Live Chat with Dr. John Foreyt on “Losing Weight and Weight Control”

Moderator: Good afternoon everyone! I'm Beth Hubrich, director of health and nutrition for, and I'll be the Moderator for this Live Chat. is pleased to welcome Dr. John Foreyt to our Live Chat this afternoon! As a brief introduction, Dr. Foreyt is currently a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas. He also is the Director of the DeBakey Heart Center's Behavioral Medicine Research Center and is a Clinical Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Houston. He has published extensively in the areas of diet modification, cardiovascular risk reduction, eating disorders, and obesity. Dr. Foreyt is co-author of the bestselling book, "The Living Heart Diet" and author of well over a dozen other books, including "Living Without Dieting." He has served on the National Institute of Health's National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity as well as the American Obesity Association's Advisory Council.

Moderator: Dr. Foreyt, we'd like to start the Chat by asking you about how to start losing weight. Where should be people start, especially if they've tried lots of other "diets" in the past that haven't worked?

Dr. Foreyt: Start slowly. Look at the calorie level you’re eating today and make small changes. You can also use a food diary and find out how many calories you are eating. Then try to cut 100 calories of food, and add 100 calories of physical activity. That's 20 pounds of weight loss in one year with just simple changes.

Doris: I'm worried about regaining the weight I have lost. Do you have some hints for keeping it off?

Dr. Foreyt: Eat breakfast, exercise every day, keep a food diary and weigh regularly. These things help people keep weight off. They also eat a low-fat diet, which means about 24% of calories from fat. Usually people regain weight due to emotional eating, so watch out for stress, tension, boredom, etc.

Dr. Foreyt: They also regain weight due to social situations such as eating out and letting people be in charge of their eating.

Lin: I'm good with tracking my calories for a period of time and then I lose my enthusiasm. How can I get back to tracking my calories?

Dr. Foreyt: Lin, tracking is important. To get back to tracking your calories, try tracking one time meal at a time, such as dinner. Find out what motivated you initially to track your calories and try to get back to that. And, remember how important it is. It really works.

Ben: Why is eating breakfast important to maintaining my current weight?

Dr. Foreyt: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's also a marker, it shows you can manage your day. It's important for metabolism as breakfast helps to regulate metabolism. It's also important psychologically because it shows you have your life in order. You're taking time for yourself. Data shows that 90% of people who maintain weight loss, eat breakfast.

Eileen: What would constitute an ideal breakfast to get my metabolism up?

Dr. Foreyt: A combination of protein and carbohydrates. For example, a whole grain bagel (watch the size) with peanut butter. Orange juice and milk are also good additions for breakfast.

Jana: So it's okay to have carbs in the morning?

Dr. Foreyt: Carbs are fine in the morning. Remember, the bottom rung of the pyramid is breads and cereals. And, we're talking about complex carbs -- not simple sugars.

Moderator: People have heard a lot about cutting carbs out of their diet? What's your opinion on carbohydrates and losing weight?

Dr. Foreyt: Calories are calories. Whether they come from fat, protein or carbohydrate -- cutting calories is what matters. A good diet is one that is a well balanced eating plan. Calories are really the key.

Paul: Sorry to change the subject, but, do you recommend people take a daily multi-vitamin when they are dieting?

Dr. Foreyt: Yes -- a multivitamin will not hurt and can help make up for anything missing in your diet.

Becky: I sit at a desk for most of the day. Should I worry about when I eat my calories, i.e. right before or after I exercise?

Dr. Foreyt: When you eat your calories doesn't matter. People need to find out what works for them. Everyone's schedule is different. The important thing is to get the exercise. Exercise is critical. It's also the number one predictor of maintaining weight loss.

Moderator: Dr. Foreyt, What about plateaus? Are they normal and how can people get over them?

Dr. Foreyt: Plateaus are normal. People lose about 5-10% of weight and then plateau. First, congratulate yourself and then stick with your healthier eating habits. It is normal to experience plateaus -- both physiologically and psychological. Plateaus differ in length, but if you stick with it, you will lose weight. Plateaus usually occur within 4-6 months. Upping exercise may help get over it.

Dr. Foreyt: Although many patients see 5-10% of weight loss as a failure -- it is a success. It can have a lot of impact on your health. Losing 10-20 pounds is a success, it doesn't have to be 50-100 pounds.

Ben: Sounds familiar - pretty much my experience....I am just struggling to maintain my weight as is for now.

Dr. Foreyt: Ben, struggling to maintain weight is a success! Don't think of it as failure. Congratulate yourself! If you want to start losing, maybe upping your exercise would help.

Lin: Why are the last 10 pounds so hard to take off?

Ben: Good question, Lin!

Dr. Foreyt: Lin, the last 10 pounds are always the hardest. The body changes. Remember, you don't always have to strive to be the weight you were at 16. Bodies change as they age. Be sure to look at yourself as a success, not a failure for losing up to those last 10 pounds.

Moderator: What are things people can do to keep from feeling discouraged?

Dr. Foreyt: Focus on health, not weight. God made all shapes and sizes. We may not all be able to be skinny, but we can be healthy. Focus on quality of life. Focus on eating healthy and getting exercise. Basically, change your focus from just weight to health.

Moderator: From your perspective, what are some of the best ways to lose weight INITIALLY if you have a lot to lose?

Dr. Foreyt: If you need to lose a little or a lot -- the strategies are the same. Use a food diary, Start cutting your calories and gradually start being physically active. Even if you have a lot to lose, start slow. Habit is habit -- so start slowly and work up.

Tara: How much exercise is starting slowly? How do you know what is the right amount?

Dr. Foreyt: Starting slow is 10 minutes. Gradually build to one hour a day -- but you can do that with 10 minutes here and there. And, you can talk with your doctor if you need to. Another great idea is a step counter. Gradually build to 10,000 steps. 10,000 steps is equal to five miles or the equivalent of burning 500 calories.

Dr. Foreyt: Remember, one mile will burn 100 calories.

Mary: One mile is a 100 calories? Is that walking? jogging? or does it matter?

Dr. Foreyt: It doesn't matter. One mile walking is 100 calories or one mile jogging is 100 miles. The reason is because it takes you longer to walk the mile. So, it really doesn't matter. You burn almost the same amount of calories. So, do what you like -- do what works for you.

Jesse: I spend about 10 hours a day in front of a desk - how important is it to get exercise EVERY day....can I just change my diet on days I don't exercise?

Dr. Foreyt: Get as much exercise as you can. Try to exercise every day. If not, change your diet accordingly. Eat a little less on the days you don't exercise. However, the goal is to get exercise everyday. People who maintain body weight get an hour of activity a day. Exercise is not only about losing weight -- it's also about health. We're trying to achieve metabolic fitness.

Dr. Foreyt: But, it's important to be realistic. A lot of people find that 5 days a week is ok for them.

Tara: I have heard that you can eat too few calories...Can eating too few calories be that bad?

Dr. Foreyt: Sure -- to get the right balance you do need to get about 1,400 calories.

Lisa: I've heard that I should limit the amount of fat in my daily diet, but what % of daily calories and/or # of fat grams is ideal?

Dr. Foreyt: Lisa, a healthy eating plan is about 24%. That's what data the data shows. Too low-fat may increase triglycerides. Too much fat will increase your weight. So about 24% is a good number.

Sarah: Dr. Foreyt, what is your take on ephedra?

Dr. Foreyt: It can be very dangerous, Sarah. Stay away from it.

Sarah: Is it ok for some people and not for others...or just dangerous all together?

Dr. Foreyt: Look on the label to see if it contains ephedra and if so, stay away. In my opinion it is dangerous all together.

Lisa: I've heard that approximately one pound of muscle burns approximately 10 lbs. of fat per year, but how long does it take to build one additional pound of muscle? And how many days of weight training is required to build one additional pound of muscle?

Dr. Foreyt: Everyone is different, Lisa. It varies based on body shape, size, and age.

Moderator: Dr. Foreyt, we can't thank you enough for your time this afternoon and for your insightful comments and advice. We are also very grateful for your guidance and counsel as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board. Again, thank you all, best wishes and have a great afternoon!

Dr. Foreyt: Thanks for coming to the chat. These were all excellent questions. Have a great day!

Note: This transcript covers the actual discussions that took place during the Live Chat but only includes active participants in the discussion. Many others participated in the Chat but simply did not pose questions. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next Expert Live Chat, which will be announced on the Members homepage.