Blog Posts by SHAPE magazine

  • 11 Nutrition Myths that Cause Weight Gain

    by Jessica Smith for

    Our experts set the record straight on common myths to help you lose the weight--for good!

    These common nutrition myths may be sabotaging your weight-loss progress!These common nutrition myths may be sabotaging your weight-loss progress!1. Going vegan is a healthy way to lose weight.

    "While various research shows that vegetarians and vegans, on average, consume fewer calories and less fat than omnivores (a 2009 Oxford study found that vegetarians weigh 3 to 20 percent less than their meat-eating counterparts, and a National Cancer Institute study found that subjects who consumed four ounces or more of red meat weekly were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than those who ate less), these numbers may be misleading," says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a certified nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You.

    Going vegan solely for weight loss can backfire, big time. If you aren't vigilant with a vegan diet, it's easy to lack in vital nutrients, vitamins, and proteins, which give you energy and help keep your metabolism stoked. Many first-time vegans may also find themselves reaching for more

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  • 7 Times Food Really is the Answer

    by Cristina Goyanes for

    Stuffing your face can be bad, but here are seven instances in which it actually helpsStuffing your face can be bad, but here are seven instances in which it actually helpsYou know that stuffing your face can often lead to a vicious cycle of overeating, weight gain, and guilt, so in most cases it does more harm than good. But in certain situations, noshing can actually help. When life bites, here's how and when to bite back--in a healthy manner.

    1. You're in a funk

    Eat: Sweet potatoes

    When you're feeling low, resist the urge to reach for chips or candy, and bake an orange tater instead. "Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious sources of carbohydrates, and when you consume carbs, they create an instant surge in serotonin, a feel-good chemical that lifts mood," says Lyssie Lakatos, R.D., co-author of The Secret To Skinny. And thanks to the fiber in the tubers, the carbs will enter your blood stream at a more gradual rate, helping keep your energy level stable. Read: You won't crash later and revert to being a grumpy pants, as can happen after a peanut butter cup binge.

    2. You can't sleep
    Eat: Hummus

    This Middle Eastern dip

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  • No, the Thigh Gap's Not Really Possible. Here's Why

    by Cristina Goyanes for

    The thigh gap-it's like the latest Hermes bag: Seemingly every woman wants it, yet not everyone can have it. But that doesn't stop women from hitting the gym or, at times, taking more drastic measures to try to turn their bodies into their "ideal" figures.

    And while working out and eating well can help you fine-tune your body, some goals can only be achieved if you're genetically blessed or have a certain bone structure. So rather than pushing yourself to your breaking point (perhaps literally), find out what's realistic for your body.

    RELATED: 10 Refreshingly Honest Celebrity Body Confessions

    Is the elusive thigh gap really possible? Maybe not.Is the elusive thigh gap really possible? Maybe not.1. Thigh gap: Seeing Victoria Secret models strut the length of a runway without a single thigh rub is enough to make you seethe with jealousy, but simmer down because for most women the only way to not have your inner thighs touch is to refashion your skeleton.

    "No dieting or fitness regimen is going to change your bone structure," say Polly de

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  • Your Top 6 Sex Questions, Answered

    by Kate Kelly and Sharon Liao for

    All your most personal sex questions, answered!All your most personal sex questions, answered!Chatting about orgasms, lagging libidos, or STDs can be intimidating. So we stepped in and did the asking. Our experts insights may reassure you, surprise you, and even inspire you to turn up the heat on your sessions in the sack.

    1. I had unsafe sex. What are the chances I really have an STD? You have good reason to be concerned: Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 19 million new cases occurring each year. Unfortunately, infections aren't detectable in your body immediately, so you'll have to wait an anxious week or so before you can see your doctor to get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea, says New York City gynecologist Carol Livoti, M.D.-and then another three to seven days for the results. "A course of antibiotics will nix these bacterial infections," says Livoti. "But if left untreated, they can cause long-term damage and harm your fertility." You should

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  • MSG: Not as Bad as We Thought?

    by Mike Roussell, SHAPE Diet Doctor, ph.D., for

    Is MSG as bad as we all thought?Is MSG as bad as we all thought?We've been told for years that MSG is this horrible thing to avoid, but is it really any worse than say, table salt? We went to SHAPE Diet Doctor Mike Roussell, ph.D., and author of The 6 Pillars of Nutrition, for the answer. Here's what he had to say.

    Monosodium glutamate is one of the most avoided food additives in our food supply. It is potentially more polarizing than trans fats. But unlike trans fats, the science behind the MSG doesn't reveal anything that will cause you to gain weight or drop dead. This may be surprising to you, so let's look a little at the history of MSG, if there are any health effects you should worry about, and how your can use the flavor-boosting properties of MSG with your own cooking.

    MSG Basics
    MSG is just a salt molecule combined with the amino acid L-glutamate. The salt molecule is used to stabilize the glutamate molecule, and the amino acid's glutamate is responsible for umami, the savory

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  • Why Exercise Isn't a Quick Fix for Insomnia

    by Charlotte Andersen for

    Will exercise cure your insomnia?Will exercise cure your insomnia?We've been told exercising can help improve sleep quality and may even be the cure for insomnia. So why were you staring at the ceiling until 3 a.m. last night (well, this morning) when you did a strength-training session yesterday at lunch? You may need to stick with that fitness routine for a while before you see snooze-time benefits, according to a new study.

    Until now, researchers haven't been sure exactly why exercisers sleep better. So Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., director of the behavioral sleep program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, analyzed a small 2010 study of 11 women that showed that aerobic exercise improved sleep over a 16-week period.

    "The results of this new study tell us that exercise is not a quick fix for insomnia and that it takes a while to improve sleep," she says, adding that many factors are at play.

    RELATED: 10 Unbelievable Diet Rules Backed by Science

    1. Consistency is key. In the study, the women

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  • The Case for a 20-Minute First Date

    by Cristina Goyanes for

    How long should a first date last? You might be surprised!How long should a first date last? You might be surprised!You know if a first date is going to Nowheresville the minute you walk in the door. But when you've already committed to a dinner, it's impossible to turn around and run like hell out. So you suck it up, have a horrible time, and leave feeling discouraged and exhausted, which makes you reluctant to want to meet anyone new ever again.

    Rather than drop out of the dating game, what you need to do is learn to play smarter. Renowned biological anthropologist and's scientific adviser Helen Fisher, Ph.D., says the trick is to keep your first dates, especially if you met online, to 20 minutes. (If it's a setup, like your bestie's brother or you already met once at a party, aim for 45 minutes to an hour max.)

    RELATED: 40 Free Date Ideas You'll Both Love

    "You size up someone physically in less than one second-too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too stuffy, too scruffy," says Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her? In that

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  • How Much Do You Really Know About Antioxidants?

    by Keri Gans, R.D.N., for

    What do you really know about antioxidants?What do you really know about antioxidants?For the last decade we as have heard repeatedly how important antioxidants are for us, and every other day we learn about another new superfood claiming magical powers-maybe because there seems to be always some emerging research in this field. But what's funny to me is that most people don't even know what an antioxidant is.

    According to a new survey for MonaVie, a nutritional products company, 92 percent of Americans cannot give an accurate description of an "antioxidant." In addition, 91 percent cannot recognize one or more sources of foods rich in antioxidants, even though 75 percent of Americans say they try to eat foods full of this nutrient.

    So what is an antioxidant?
    An antioxidant is a vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient that may protect and repair cells in the body against damage caused by free radicals. A free radical could occur for many reasons, including exposure to pollution, tobacco smoke, chemicals, or an unhealthy diet.


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  • Are GMO Food Risks Overblown?

    by Mike Roussell, SHAPE Diet Doctor, ph.D., for

    Should you really be worried about GMO food?Should you really be worried about GMO food?The topic of genetically modified foods is one that is hotly debated, but the problem is that the phrase GMO is very broad and encompasses techniques and modifications to food that you potentially should and shouldn't be concerned about. At this point in time there doesn't seem to be an overt benefit or risk to consuming GMO foods, but let's explore a little further.

    What Are the Major GMO Foods?
    According to the FDA, the big three GMO foods are soybeans, corn, and canola. But the FDA has also evaluated the safety of genetic modifications to flax, tomatoes, potatoes, cantaloupe, alfalfa, creeping bentgrass, papaya, sugar beets, wheat, squash, radicchio, and plums. The FDA lists consultations on GMO foods and what was genetically modified in the food to warrant the safety consultation on its website.

    RELATED: 7 Foods a Nutritionist Would Never Eat

    Benefits of GMO Foods
    In the mid- to late 1800s, monk Gregor Mendel, the "father

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  • CNN's "Weed" Reveals the Truth About Pot

    by Charlotte Andersen for

    New documentary sheds some light on the effects of marijuanaNew documentary sheds some light on the effects of marijuana Chances are you were too glued to Breaking Bad last night (and we don't blame you) to even notice the other drug-related show that premiered. Over on CNN, an aptly titled documentary called "Weed" explored the good and the bad when it comes to smoking pot, trying to answer the question of whether or not it should be legal everywhere.

    Coming on the tails of CNN anchorman Piers Morgan and Sanjay Gupta, M.D., admitting last week to having tried the stuff ("years and years ago!") and Washington and Colorado recently legalizing it, this documentary was riveting in its own way.

    The show opened with the story of Charlotte, a 5-year-old girl suffering from a rare form of epilepsy that causes her to have hundreds of life-threatening seizures a day. After receiving liquid drops of marijuana, the child is instantaneously cured. If I hadn't had my laptop on my lap, I might have jumped up and yelled "It's a miracle!" as her recovery was so immediate and so

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