Play good “D.” The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently boosted its recommendations for Vitamin D to 600 IUs per day for bone health, saying the evidence to-date doesn’t support other purported benefits. But the research is intriguing: A University of Minnesota study showed that people whose D levels are higher when they start cutting calories lose more weight than people with less of the “sunshine vitamin.” Your doctor can check to see if you’re running low on D and recommend a dosage that gets you between 40 to 60 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter); the new safe upper limit set by the IOM is 4000 IUs.
Eat yogurt. This classic diet food may have weight-shredding power beyond being low-calorie. New research suggests that the good bacteria — known as probiotics — in yogurt might help you slim down. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. found that obese people had fewer of the bacteria Bacteroidetes and more of Firmicutes than normal-weight subjects. Laboratory studies suggest that Firmicutes caused mice to take in more calories from their food than mice eating the same stuff in the same amounts. Dropping pounds seems to shift the bacterial balance in your favor: After losing weight, a group of dieters saw their Bacteroidetes levels increase. Your best bet for now: Make sure the yogurt you eat contains live cultures.
Fill up on “super fiber.” We know fiber is a weight-loss wonder — it fills you up, controls your appetite and reduces the absorption of fat. The problem is getting the 25 grams per day recommended for women ages 19 to 50 (21 grams for women 50-plus; 38 grams for men up to age 50 and 30 grams for men 50-plus). Dietitians have long been using fiber supplements to fill the gap. Some are now using PGX, a kind of “super fiber,” to address serious weight and health problems. People with prediabetes who took PGX for three weeks with meals had large drops in after-meal blood sugar and insulin levels, controlling appetite and reducing calorie intake. People who have used PGX for weight loss also report impressive success. PGX is available at some grocery stores and health food stores. Talk to your doctor before using PGX; it can affect drug absorption and may aggravate existing digestive disorders.
Obesity-proof your baby. Being at a healthy weight when you conceive may give your baby better odds of maintaining a normal weight over his or her lifetime. Researchers compared children born to obese mothers with siblings born after the mothers had successful weight-loss surgery. The children born after their mothers had lost weight were 52 percent less likely to be obese than siblings born to the same mother when she was heavy. “Children conceived after their mothers lost weight process fats and carbohydrates in a healthier way,” says Dr. John Kral of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. “Their metabolisms were made normal by their prenatal experience.”