Here are some surprising truths about how to lose weight and keep it off.
Weight Loss: 5 Things You May Not Know
Credit: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindy Shapiro

Are you one of millions of Americans who resolved that this year will be the year for weight loss that really works? Not just another quick fix, not just another resolution that disappears somewhere in the month of February. Maybe the problem is not what you know about weight loss–every magazine is full of tips and tricks to lose weight. Maybe the problem is what you DON'T know!

1. You know that skipping breakfast is a problem, but did you know that meal timing is important throughout the rest of the day, too? Your body's fuel tank can hold about four hours of fuel at one time, so make sure you eat a meal or a snack every four hours to keep your fuel gauge from hitting empty. That means planning a daily afternoon snack of both protein and carbohydrates to prevent your body from chemically driving you to crave fats and sugars by dinner time. This habit will keep your energy level balanced and prevent overfilling your tank which inevitably leads to filling up your fat stores.

2. You know that white bread, potatoes and pasta should be avoided if you really want to lose weight, right? Think again! Did you know that if you eat lean proteins and heart healthy fats with even white bread, potatoes and pasta, it slows down how fast those easy-to-digest carbohydrates break down? Those infamous "white carbs" aren't so bad after all if consumed in moderation as a part of a balanced meal with lean protein, vegetables, fruits and heart-healthy fats.

3. You know that exercise is important–it burns calories and helps keep your moods stable. But did you know that regular exercise can actually change your own taste preferences from high-fat health traps to more low-fat favorites? Studies show that 12 weeks of regular exercise literally changes your desire for higher fat foods. Fatty foods actually produce endorphins, a natural feel-good chemical that is easy to get hooked on. But exercise produces even more of these, so you don't need the high-fat fix to feel good anymore.

4. You know that drinking water is important because it helps fill you up so you eat fewer calories. True, maybe, but water also gives your muscles its natural ability to contract, and a muscle that contracts is a muscle at work. A muscle at work means energy burned! Water also keeps the kidneys working properly which prevents your liver from having to help out. That way, the liver can do its job of breaking down stored body fat. Drinking water is a win-win situation!

5. You know that weight loss that stays off means regular exercise must stay ON–on your weekly planner and checked off when done. But did you know that getting enough sleep is just as important? Studies show that people who sleep four hours or less are almost three time more likely to become obese. Lack of sleep lowers a hormone called leptin that suppresses your appetite and raises a hormone called grehlin that increases your appetite. That's worth a good night's sleep!

Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, CEDRD is a registered, licensed dietitian, spinning instructor, and certified specialist in sports nutrition and eating disorders. She is the author of Rev It Up-The Lifestyle Diet That Puts You In The Driver's Seat.