What is a healthy rate to lose weight?

The question isn’t whether the risk of death from weight loss is low, but whether we’re willing to pay for a lifetime of death risk if we eat the kind of food that doesn’t allow us to lose weight.

In my recent book, The Case Against Sugar, I have been making this point, suggesting that the real way to reduce your weight is not to reduce your calories, but to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. And a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association adds to the evidence that we need to do far more than restrict our calorie intake in the U.S. to reduce the health risks.

The study found that people who eat less than half of their calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fat were also at the greatest risk of cardiovascular disease. However, while the group who ate a lot of protein (over 2,000 calories) did significantly better in reducing their blood pressure, those who consumed less than 3,000 calories every day reduced their blood pressure by about two and a half times greater than those who consumed the least.

And as the food researchers have found, if you consume an ample amount of fiber, many of the health benefits of vegetables and fruit begin to show up in the blood. “It turns out that dietary fiber is the big deal because it keeps blood pressure low — it makes blood pressure go down,” says study author Dr. Timothy Suthi, director of the obesity clinic at the University of Chicago College of Medicine. Fiber also helps control cholesterol, making it one of the most effective ways to lower your risk of heart disease.

This new study also suggests that dietary fiber could be part of a strategy for fighting obesity and other weight problems. If you get your fiber in the form of whole grains, vegetables rich in fiber, fruits and berries, legumes and nuts, the effect of dietary fiber may be very dramatic on weight control, Suthi said.

These findings come as obesity rates are continuing to rise, and obesity is now in the top four health problems in the U.S. Most overweight Americans carry the disease for life because they’re likely to have metabolic changes related to obesity that are difficult to prevent. But even for those who have been healthy throughout their lives, obesity is a disease that can severely harm your health.

For people who haven’t been overweight for long, the new study suggests a great diet may be one of the best ways to help bring them back down to a healthy weight.

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