Friday, March 13, 2009

Progress Towards AIDS Vaccine

Rutgers AIDS researchers Gail Ferstandig Arnold and Eddy Arnold may have turned a corner in their search for a HIV vaccine. In a paper just published in the Journal of Virology, the husband and wife duo and their colleagues report on their research progress.

With the support of the National Institutes of Health, the Arnolds and their team have been able to take a piece of HIV that is involved with helping the virus enter cells, put it on the surface of a common cold virus, and then immunize animals with it. They found that the animals made antibodies that can stop an unusually diverse set of HIV isolates or varieties.

Some researchers have previously been able to elicit effective antibodies, but usually only against a very limited number of HIV types. With HIV's known propensity to mutate, antibodies developed against one local strain may not recognize and combat mutant varieties elsewhere. These geographic varieties with different mutations constitute one of the great challenges to finding a broad spectrum vaccine capable of protecting against the vast array of HIV varieties.

The approach taken by the Arnolds and their colleagues has been to identify a part of the AIDS virus that is crucial to its viability - something the virus needs in order to complete its life cycle - and then target this Achilles heel.

"The part that we targeted plays a role in the ability of HIV to enter cells, and is common to most HIV varieties," Gail Ferstandig Arnold said. "That is a mechanism that would not be easy for the virus to reinvent on the fly, so it turns out to be a really helpful target."

The Arnolds are both members of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, a joint center of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Also, Gail Ferstandig Arnold is a research professor and Eddy Arnold is a professor, both in Rutgers' Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

While most vaccines are actually made from the pathogen itself, employing weakened or inactivated organisms to stimulate antibody production, HIV is just too dangerous to use as the basis for a vaccine vehicle. What the Arnolds have done is to use the relatively innocuous cold-causing rhinovirus and attach the target portion of the HIV. This must be done in a way that maintains the HIV part's shape so that when the immune system sees it, it will actually mount an immune response as it would to the real HIV.

"The idea is to trick the immune system into thinking it is acting upon HIV before the virus shows actually shows up on the scene," said Eddy Arnold.

To actually accomplish this is a big problem in engineering. The goal was to take a small piece of the HIV out of its native context, put it in a completely different system (rhinovirus), and have it look the same and act the same. Eddy Arnold likens this to taking the Rocky Mountains, putting them on India and having them look exactly right.

Using recombinant engineering, the research team developed a method to systematically test millions of varied presentations of the HIV segment with the rhinovirus. They tried millions of different variations on how to graft (or splice) one onto the other, creating what are called combinatorial libraries.

"It's like the lottery," Eddy Arnold commented. "The more tickets you buy the better chance you have of winning."

"The really exciting part is that we were able to find viruses that could elicit antibodies against a huge variety of isolates of HIV. That is an immense step and a very important step," said Gail Ferstandig Arnold.

"However, we need to be careful to not overstate things because the quantity of response is not huge, but it is significant," added Eddy Arnold. "This is actually the first demonstration of this particular Achilles heel being presented in way to generate a relevant immune response. It is probably not potent enough by itself to be the vaccine or a vaccine, but it is a proof of principle that what we are trying to do is a very sound idea."

Source: Joseph Blumberg
Rutgers University

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Energy All Day Long

Find yourself running out of energy at roughly the same time day in, day out? Have you tried everything from more coffee and No-Doz to energy bars and splashing cold water on your face? We're going to take a guess and say none of this is working. But, go figure, this is normal.

Your body clock has a way of winding itself up and down throughout the day. It needs a little kickstart at times, especially if you're crammed behind a desk for extended periods of time. Here, we cover the most common times of the day your power is sucked away and how to recover and continue on with your productive day.

7 a.m.: The Morning Fog
How is it after 8 hours (give or take) of rest and relaxation are you not bouncing off the walls and instead are barely able to form a complete sentence? Blame a little something called sleep inertia. "Sleep inertia can last for up to 2 hours, although it's most severe within the first 10 minutes of waking," says Kenneth Wright, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado. Wright and his colleagues discovered just how severe in a new study, which shows that the mental impairment caused by sleep inertia is akin to being intoxicated.

Deal with your "sleep drunk" with what Tufts University researchers have found to be the best medicine: instant oatmeal with a dose of skim milk. Studies have found that people who ate one packet of instant oatmeal with 1/2 cup of skim milk received a steady glucose infusion, which increased their alertness all morning and improved their ability to process information. Also, adding a little caffeine to the mix, say, a cup of coffee, helped combat and cure the sleep inertia.

1 p.m.: The Lunchtime Letdown
Lunches high in carbs cause your insulin levels to spike and your concentration to dip. Rapid insulin spikes rob your blood of sugar too fast, essentially stripping your brain of the fuel it needs to fire on all cylinders.

If you insist on consuming the carbs, that's fine. But pair the high-carb meal with plenty of fiber. Fiber slows your digestion and the release of insulin. So, say you've got a baked potato for lunch. You best be eating the skin off that thing. The skin packs tons of fiber called pectin, a type of fiber that slows everything down in the gastronomical tract. And when food passes more slowly through the intestines, absorption into the bloodstream proceeds in a more timed-release fashion.

3 p.m.: The Afternoon Slump
Your body is a boxing ring in the afternoon. In one corner, wearing the gold trunks, is your circadian clock, which fights to keep you awake until bedtime. And in the opposite corner, wearing the green and white trunks is your homeostatic system, which competes to make you sleepy. And every day, between approximately 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., the homeostatic system comes out with gloves blazing looking to score a KO.

But the circadian clock isn't licked yet. Give it the secret weapon of a dose of sunlight and fend off the homeostatic system longer. British researchers recently found that when people exercised and got outside in the afternoon during their workday—regardless of the duration or intensity of the movement—they were less likely to feel fatigued, and that translated into a 15 percent improvement in job performance.

6 p.m.: The Preworkout Conk-Out
It's a dilemma: you want to workout but you're too tired to do so. It's probably because after work you've neglected the most important tool for your workout: food. If you haven't eaten anything substantial since lunch, you're body is running on empty.

Before you hit the weights, prepare a snack. The ideal munch totals 250 calories and consists of 25 to 35 grams (g) carbohydrates, 10 to 15 g protein, and up to 5 g fat. Two handfuls of pretzels and two slices of cheese fits the nutritional bill. Also, hydrate! Your best bet, honestly, is to throw back a Gatorade. It will provide instant energy and a nice blood-sugar spike to get you through the workout.

8 p.m.: The Prime-Time Torpor
You've worked all day. You've put in your time. You should be able to just stretch out on your couch with some prime-time comedies and relax, half asleep, half awake, right? You may have earned this comfort, but it's going to screw your body clock up for the next day. "Going to bed a couple of hours earlier than you normally do will throw off your rhythms, while consistency can really help you feel alert during the day," says Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of the Sciences, in Philadelphia.

Instead of sprawling under the blanket with the TV glowing, turn on some music. Something upbeat and familiar will give your body a boost of energy. What you do with this newfound burst is up to you.

Shut It Off
Finally. Bed. You have been up and running around for hours on end, combatting fatigue with food, exercise, and other methods to keep you on your toes. Close your eyes, and go to sleep. Oh great, you're wide awake.

This phenomenon of not being able to sleep is actually Pavolvian. If you find yourself reading, playing Sudoku, watching late night TV, or doing anything else besides sleeping in your bed, you've trained your body to treat the space not as a sleeping spot but another rec room. So turn off the TV, put the books and games down, and just sleep. Sleep....

Source: MensHealth

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ten Essentials For Your Grocery Cart

As you trek up and down the aisles at your local grocery store, it's easy to get distracted, resulting in throwing a plethora of unhealthy items into your shopping cart. Do you really need the processed jalapeno-cheese dip just because it's on sale? Probably not. provides all of us easily-distracted shoppers a simple Top 10 list of the healthiest foods we can gather on our next excursion to the market. Next time, add these items to your shopping list:

A great source of soluble fiber, which helps reduce bad cholesterol and makes you feel full faster, Raspberries are also packed with antioxidants. However, they're not always in season. When they aren't, they can cost a bundle. No worries, though. The frozen variety are always available at a reasonable price.

Asparagus is amazing when it's roasted. Plus it's low in sugar and high in folate and vitamin C.

Skim Milk
There's no substitute for good, old milk. Sure there's a new, noticeable "soy" craze in the fridges, and they offer tempting, flavored varieties. But they are mostly sugar. It's true. Stick to the classic skim milk when you're making your lactose decisions.

Flavored Seltzer Water
Got a craving for a vitamin-fortified water? Rethink your choice when you read the label. One bottle has more calories and sugar than a can of cola. Plus the vitamins are negligible, compared with the amount of sugar you’re getting. Thos flavored seltzer waters have zero calories and contain no artificial sweeteners or added sugar.

Bulgur / Quinoa
Need a rice alternative? Well, couscous may seem the best option. But when you consider it has the same nutritional value as white pastas (penne or rigatoni), reach for bulgur or quinoa intead.

Bulgur has fewer calories and three times the fill-you-up fiber. Quinoa is high in fiber and a great source of protein (on par with a piece of chicken).

Extra-lean Ground Sirloin
Beef gets a bad wrap. With more people using ground turkey in place of it in meatloafs, meatballs, etc. However, did you know that unless you're using "lean" ground turkey, you're actually just getting a mix of white and dark meat, as well as skin, resulting in inflated calories and fat content? So fear not the lean ground sirloin! Plus, lean beef supplies a good helping of iron—almost five times more than turkey.

Red, Black, or White Beans
Thinking of making your own hummus? Rethink canned chickpeas. While they admitedly are the main ingredient in the Middle Eastern dip, using red, black, or white beans are a lower in fat and calories, higher in protein, zinc and folate option.

Whole Wheat Pasta
While whole wheat pasta contains about the same nutritional information as its relatives, white and tricolor pasta, it does contain more fiber than either. So if you have a pasta craving you just can't beat, this is your best bet.

Dried Apricots
Dried apricots contain few calories and less than 1 gram of fat (plus loads of vitamin A) per serving. Buy organic and you’ll also avoid sulphites, which can trigger migraines and even disrupt sleep.

Feta Cheese
The Greek-salad staple is a healthy bet. It has about 4 grams of saturated fat per serving, compared with 7 grams in goat cheese, and around 15 fewer calories per ounce. Sprinkle a few chunks on your white or black bean hummus? MMMMMMM!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Overcome Life's Little Annoyances

We've known for quite some time that stress can lead to an unhealthy life, weight gain, raised blood pressure, and a slew of other ailments that can take seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years off your life. Sure, overcoming the larger obstacles that lead to stress are easier to combat, as you can prepare for them, but what about the minor annoyances encountered everyday?

Men's Health has finally put together a quaint and useful, and comprehensive, list of how to deal with those smaller annoyances that all of us will undoubtably have to deal with. From sitting in gum to the cork breaking off in the bottle, here are ways to stay calm and cool when the minors seems major.

What to do when:

You Can't Fall Asleep
Make two columns on a pad of paper. On one side write down what's bothering you, and on the other write down what you'll do about it, even if it's "I'll deal with it tomorrow," says Edward O'Malley, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Now you've been productive and gotten the thoughts out of your head. Then go watch a rerun of a sitcom. You'll be distracted without becoming too engaged.

The Cork Breaks into the Bottle
Pour the wine into a decanter (a glass or ceramic pitcher will do) and the pieces will float and stick to the sides of the original bottle, says Cat Silirie, wine director at No. 9 Park restaurant in Boston. If the cork turns into dust, pour the wine through a coffee filter.

You Overcooked the Pasta
Saute it with some olive oil. It'll remove excess moisture, Kelly says. You can also throw the pasta in a baking dish, cover it with sauce and some cheese, and nuke it for 5 to 7 minutes, or use the oven for 15 minutes at 350°F.

You Forgot Her Birthday
Hop online and make a weekend reservation at a hotel, inn, or B&B, since they're open 24 hours. ( and can help with hotels.) Then make a card that looks like a coupon for the trip, says Paul Joannides, author of Guide to Great Dates. She'll actually think you're romantic.

You Can't Remember His Name
Just say, "I'm sorry, it's been one of those days. Would you tell me your name again?" says Jacqueline Whitmore, of the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Don't say you don't remember—it looks as if you don't care. You might not; just don't look that way.

Your Hair's Sticking Up in a Spot
Hit the men's room and dab a little liquid soap on the roots of the flyaway hair, says Leslie Baumann, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami school of medicine. It will coat the hair and prevent static electricity—the cause of your problem.

You Get Ink on Your Shirt
Best tip: Go straight to the dry cleaner. Can't leave work? Then put a paper towel underneath the fabric and shoot the spot with hair spray (someone in the office will have some). Then wet another paper towel and press it against the ink, Dellutri says. The ink will go into the paper towel that's underneath.

You Keep Laughing in a Meeting
Breathe deeply from your diaphragm and squeeze a pen with your fingers. The former will help you relax, and both will give you something else to focus on, says Leslie Shapiro, a behavior therapist at the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. Need something else to think about? Your grandparents making out. You're welcome.

You Have Food on Your Tie
If the spot is crusty, scrape off as much as you can with a credit card, Dellutri says. Then dab the stain with your tongue—saliva breaks down the food, as it would if you had actually gotten it into your mouth. For oil or grease stains, sprinkle baby powder on the spot; cover it with several paper towels and put a book on it, says Clare Spiegel, an image consultant in Coral Springs, Florida. The paper towels will absorb the stain.

You Eat Garlic Before a Meeting
Before you leave the restaurant, go to the bar and dip a lemon twist in a pinch of salt and chew on it, says Peter Kelly, a chef instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. The lemon oil and salt will help break down the garlic. The tequila's optional.

You Burn the Roof of Your Mouth
Stop feeling the burn by gargling with a 50-50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide. It helps dissolve dead tissue, and it's fizzy—sorry for the technical medical-speak—so it feels good, Dr. Zane says.

You Lose a Contact Lens
Put the remaining contact in whichever eye is stronger. It will take over more of the work, says Elliott Myrowitz, O.D., M.P.H., an optometrist at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. That should make you less likely to fall down a flight of steps.

You Sit on Gum on the Bus
Ice it. Once the gum hardens, scrape it off with a credit card. If ice doesn't work, put some peanut butter on the spot and let it sit for 5 minutes—the gum will come off in pieces, says Laura Dellutri, owner of America's Cleaning Connection in Kansas City, Kansas. Finish up with a damp cloth to pull up the residue. You risk an oil spot, but then, that's probably preferable to Bazooka.

You Get a Blister Under a Toenail
Hold a paper clip with tweezers or pliers; heat the end of it with a lighter until it's red hot and touch the tip to the surface of the nail so it goes through. (Nails don't have nerves, so there won't be any pain, you baby.) The blood will come out, relieving the pressure or pain, says Richard Zane, M.D., an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Ah, relief.

You Split Your Pants at Work
Take them off. Turn them inside out. (Have you closed your office door, Mr. No Pants?) Now staple along the inner seam. There's extra fabric where the stitching is, so your handiwork won't be seen and, more important, won't be felt, says Courtney Kilmartin, a makeup artist and wardrobe stylist in Boston.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Combat Fat Using Flavor

The trend of tapas and smaller dishes is growing exponetially, proving that you don't have to substitute portion size for a hearty and filling meal. As chefs across the world are able to pack more punch into tinier dishes, just a few bites of a particular plate can have you leaving the table satiated but not having to loosen your belt.

So instead of downing mountains of greasy meats and other piles of just-on-par foods, pack a lot of flavor into a smaller dish, reducing the portion and your gut. Here are a few of the concoctions some of America's top tiny-dish chefs are cooking up (recipes and ingredients included!), subbing flavor as the filler for the large portions most Americans have come to see as a "standard" size.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp
The chef: Seamus Mullen
The restaurant: Boqueria, New York City

1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red-pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
16 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a small sauté pan, heat the oil until it starts to shimmer (just below smoking temperature); add the pepper flakes, and then the garlic. As the garlic begins to brown, season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then place the shrimp in the pan with the garlic, swirling the pan gently. Sauté over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then stir in the parsley. Sauté for another minute, remove from the heat, and serve. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 249 calories, 23 grams (g) protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat (2 g saturated), less than 1 g fiber

Mini Blue-Cheese Steaks on Salad
The chef: Chris Santos
The restaurant: The Stanton Social, New York City

1 lb hanger or skirt steak, cut into 4 equal portions
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cooking oil

2 cups toasted, large, cubed pieces of baguette, crusts removed
1 bag mixed salad greens
2 pt cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup Cabrales or other soft blue cheese
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 bunch chives, chopped

2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil

Rub the steaks liberally with salt and coarse black pepper. Heat the cooking oil in an ovenproof sauté pan until it begins to smoke lightly. Add the steaks to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Turn the steaks, then place the pan in a preheated 500°F oven for 5 minutes. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow them to rest while you assemble the salad.

Toss the salad components with the vinaigrette (whisk the three ingredients) and divide among four plates. Slice the steaks thinly and place on top of the salad. Garnish with blue cheese. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 488 calories, 38 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 28 g fat (10 g saturated), 5 g fiber

Vietnamese Chicken Skewers
The chef: Michael Bao Huynh
The restaurant: Mai House,New York City

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, inner leaves only, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 jalapeño peppers, split, seeds removed
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 cup fish sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
Wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

Combine the garlic, onion, lemongrass, ginger, peppers, cilantro, fish sauce, sugar, and lime in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, then take off the stove and cool. Toss the chicken into the marinade and let it marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Skewer the chicken cubes and grill them for 3 to 4 minutes a side, until they're firm and lightly charred. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 112 calories, 16 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, less than 1 g fat (less than 1 g saturated), less than 1 g fiber

Chickpeas with Chorizo
The chef: Ken Oringer
The restaurant: Toro, Boston

1/2 large onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz Serrano ham or prosciutto, chopped
4 oz ready-to-eat Spanish chorizo, sliced in 1/4" rounds
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped frozen spinach
1 cup canned chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Sauté the onion, garlic, and bay leaf in the olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the ham and chorizo, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste and white wine and cook for 10 more minutes. Once the wine has evaporated, add the spinach and chickpeas and their liquid. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with the eggs and a drizzle of olive oil. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 438 calories, 20 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 29 g fat (7 g saturated), 5 g fiber

Braised Salmon with Soy and Ginger
The chef: Susanna Foo
The restaurant: Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine, Philadelphia

16 oz salmon fillet
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup mirin*
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp vodka
1 Tbsp butter
2 scallions (white parts only), chopped
3-4 sprigs cilantro

* Mirin is a Japanese condiment that's available in the ethnic-food sections of most supermarkets.

Cut the salmon into 1" squares. Heat the olive oil in a 12" nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the salmon cubes and ginger. Sear together for about 1 minute, then pour the mirin, soy sauce, and vodka over the salmon. Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 3 minutes, until the fish turns pale. Add the butter and turn off the heat. Spoon the salmon onto a serving plate and top with the scallion and cilantro. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 359 calories, 24 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat (5 g saturated), 1 g fiber

Complete the Meal:
Like every good meal, a small supplement may be added as an appetizer or starter. Here are a few ideas that are full of flavor but keep with the small-dish theme. Divided up by region.


Start with: 4 cups loosely packed mixed greens

1 ripe pear peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp toasted walnuts

Toss with:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

1 orange peeled and sectioned
1 carrot grated
2 scallions chopped

Toss with:
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger

1/4 cup roasted red peppers
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts quartered
2 Tbsp toasted almonds

Toss with:
1 Tbsp red- or white-wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Or if a plate of vegetable is more of your thing, go for this.


Start with: A 2-pound mix of any of the following vegetables, cut into similar-size pieces: asparagus, zucchini, carrot, onion, cherry tomato. Brown in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

2 cloves garlic chopped
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp pesto fresh or bottled (toss the vegetables in it before roasting)
Squeeze of lemon

Now that you're mouth is watering, go try one or all of these recipes for yourself!

Source: MensHealth

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Extreme Interior Design

You can design your home, outfit a new car with customized features, put a new spin on an old recipe for dinner, pick out what you wear, choose what colors with which to color, design a cell phone plan tailored for you, and even build a computer with the exact specs you're looking for. So why not be able to design your baby?

Sound crazy? Well, the owner of a fertility clinic in Los Angeles vows in 6 months picky parents will have the ability to choose their newborn's features - everything from hair and eye color to skin tone.

Known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, this technology was originally designed to pinpoint and treat diseases.

Ethics, though are now being called into question.

"What we need here is to put some regulation and oversight on this multi billion dollar business," says Marcy Darnovsky with the Center of Genetics and Society. "We have to do this carefully. This is not about policing women's reproductive rights. This is about bringing in some responsible regulation oversight to this multi billion dollar business that happens to be involved with making new people."

Having complete power over what you produce is a good feeling, no question. However, what does this mean for the future of reproduction? The owner of the Institute is the first to admit the technology isn't perfect. And for those of Scandinavian decent, you're going to most likely get the results you desire as the gene pool is less diluted.

As we become an increasingly technology and almost-futuristic-based society, new breakthroughs like this are going to become more common. But is it for better or worse?

We'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject! Comment below.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Best & Worst Advice From Top Diet Plans

A trip to your local bookstore or even a Google search for "diet plans" will yield results beyond your wildest imagination. The sheer amount of books, advice, and information on how to diet, when to diet, where to diet, why to diet, etc. can be overwhelming.

Deciphering all of the information that can, at times, seem to contradict itself is difficult. So let's take a quick look at some of the basic advice from a few top diet plans to try and clear this up. Check out the best and worst advice from:

Dr. Phil
Best Tip:
Reduce your exposure to unhealthy foods and to cues that cause you to eat. You can’t eat what isn't there!

Worst Tip:
Use exercise poles on your walk to burn more calories.
- You're not cross-country skiing so those poles aren't doing anything for you except making you look goofy. Mix up your gym routine, instead.

YOU: On a Diet
Best Tip:
Pick a range for your ideal weight instead of fixating on a particular number. You’ll feel guilt-free when faced with the small fluctuations that occur naturally day-to-day.

Worst Tip:
Eat the exact same thing for lunch—and breakfast too if you can stand it—every day.
- Isn't this what makes people go OFF of diets? Morning: Breakfast shake. Noon: Lunch shake. Evening: Dinner shake. Add variety and flavor to your diet. It's possible.

Skinny Bitch
Best Tip:
Read the ingredients. Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce.

Worst Tip:
You must eat vegan.
Really? We must go Vegan? Seems to us that a drastic diet change like that can not only be harmful to one's health, if done improperly, but may prove too difficult and see them giving up the diet altogether. Good call.

The Biggest Loser
Best Tip:
Try circuit training. The effective, total-body workouts will help you lose weight and inches, as well as boost your metabolism, strengthen your bones, and may even make you more resistant to stress.

Worst Tip:
Start your own competition à la Biggest Loser, complete with group meetings and registration fees.
- Do you really see this working? No cameramen. No producers. Charging your friends to lose weight. We're sure there will be a line forming at your door when you propose this idea. (Sarcasm noted.)

French Women Don't Get Fat
Best Tip:
Add “petit” and “peu” to your French vocabulary; you can have a little of everything if you stick to small portions.

Worst Tip:
Buy fresh flowers, or carry a sprig of lavender with you to smell as you pass the tempting aromas floating out of bakeries and restaurants.
- Lavender will keep your mouth from watering sure, but after awhile it could even cause you to start sneezing up a storm. And that's always an attractive look, right?

The Beck Diet Solution
Best Tip:
Differentiate between cravings and hunger. If you can tell the difference between wanting to eat and needing to eat, you can cut out unnecessary calories.

Worst Tip:
Just say, "Oh well."
- Hey, apathy! That's a surefire way to stay on a diet. It takes drive, motivation, and a headstrong attitude. If you're willing to mutter, "Oh well," when things get tough, you haven't got it, kid.

Suzanne Somers
Best Tip:
Implement a system of checks and balances for rewarding yourself with the treats you miss the most while dieting. For example, if you long for white bread but couldn’t care less about chocolate cake, enjoy a serving of bread before dinner and skip dessert.

Worst Tip:
If a restaurant doesn’t have whole-wheat pasta on the menu, bring your own for them to prepare.
- Oh yeah, we're sure chefs just love when patrons bring in their own food. Maybe they will prepare it, but we wouldn't bank on getting any sort of good service.

The Thrive Diet
Best Tip:
Eat less processed food. Sticking to whole, fiber-rich foods will help you lose weight.

Worst Tip:
Eat raw.
- Again, what's with these drastic changes? The raw trend came and went like Daewoo Autos.

So while there is some very valid advice floating around in the diet world, it is important to know the difference between good advice and bad advice. What it boils down to is finding a plan that is right for you, studying it, knowing it, adhering to it, and tracking the results.

Source: MSN Health