What would you do for a tight, toned body? Take fat-blocking pills? Sleep in a foil suit? Get hypnotized? Have your stomach stapled? There are a lot of theories and misconceptions about how to lose fat. And whether we have excess unwanted pounds or just wish we were firmer, many of us look to quick fixes for the solution. Forget it. It's time to learn the scientific facts and make them work for you. We've got the latest information to help you get, and stay, your leanest.

Through the years, researchers have worked diligently to understand how we can lose fat. Based on their findings, scientists now say that a three-pronged approach addressing your psyche, diet and exercise is key. "Mind, mouth and muscle are all critical components to fat loss," says weight-loss specialist Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., author of Fight Fat After Forty (Viking, 2000).

There's no miracle cure; losing fat takes work. The good news is we've gathered the most recent research and consulted leading experts in order to assemble the answers and tips on the following pages -- sure to get you thinking, eating and exercising for effective, lasting fat loss. We've also got an exclusive Maximum Fat-Loss Workout, designed by researcher Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., to help you decrease fat and build muscle.

Just remember: When it comes to shedding fat, there are complex factors that come into play, including your genes, metabolism, food preferences, physical abilities and mental makeup. What works for one person may not work for everyone -- so experiment with well-researched strategies to find the best formula for you.

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