A diet that works -- even when it doesn't

They say a diet only works if it keeps the weight off -- and that's partially true about weight gain. After all, there's nothing worse than working hard to lose weight only to have those pounds find their way back to your belly.

But if that happens to you, don't give up too much hope -- because there's one healthy lifestyle that lets you keep many of the biggest benefits even if you regain some of the weight.

That diet is the Mediterranean Diet, the common-sense lifestyle that cuts out some of the worst processed junk and unhealthy carbs while still allowing for a wide range of delicious foods -- including whole grains and healthy fats.

In a new study, the diet helped people to lose more weight than a low-fat diet over the short term and led to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

That's not a surprise, since losing weight will almost always improve cholesterol levels.

The real surprise is that four years after the study ended, after many had given up on the diet and most had experienced some weight gain, the improvements in cholesterol remained.

That's critical, since we know that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are a major risk factor -- and keeping them down, even if you have some weight gain, can help lower your disease risk.

The study also found similar long-term benefits for the low-carbohydrate diet, and while I'm certainly on board with the idea of giving up the worst of the carbs, the diet does have a few problems: too much fat, not enough fiber, and it's so restrictive that most people can't follow it.

The Mediterranean Diet, on the other hand, allows you to keep eating healthier carbs such as whole grains while allowing more freedom to enjoy a wider range of other foods.

But no matter which diet you follow, weight gain is always frustrating. If that happens to you, don't give up.

Tighten your belt and try again.

Weight loss is a war you can win, even if you lose a few battles along the way. Some people can do it alone, but others can't -- and if you're in that boat, a holistic doctor like me can help. You can make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine by visiting markstengler.com.