Feb 11th, 2013
Author: Avadean Lewis
For some people, counting calories is the only strategy that really brings results, but it can be tedious and extremely time-consuming. If you aren’t losing weight as you’d hoped, consider carefully adding up your calories, even if it’s just for a few days. To make this exercise easier, try sticking with foods and beverages that have calorie numbers readily available, like a bag of baby carrots instead of loose ones, and sliced deli meat and Swiss cheese from packages instead of the deli. Doing a strict tally for just three to five days can provide a whole new level of awareness. For example, maybe you thought you’ve been eating less salad dressing or pasta than you really have been. Consistently underestimating by just a few hundred calories a day can keep you one full dress- or pants-size larger.
The latest dietary guidelines emphasize meeting both your nutrient and calorie needs. That’s because eating too many calories, even from nutrient-rich foods, can cause you to become or remain overweight, which increases your risk of developing nearly every chronic disease.
Calories control weight, period. Exercise more and eat the same number of calories, and you’ve cut calories; lower your fat and/or sugar intake without changing anything else, and you’ve cut calories. Sometimes people get into trouble when they think they’re cutting calories, failing to realize that, in fact, they aren’t For example, after a hard workout, you might think you deserve that extra helping of mashed potatoes, but the potatoes probably contain more calories than you burned, so you end up adding rather than cutting. Or maybe you ate a poached pear for dessert rather than ice cream but also unknowingly piled extra rice on your plate at dinner, offsetting your low-cal dessert. Through it can be tedious, conscientiously tracking calories is the single best way to decrease your intake. It’s as simple as setting a calories budget and ensuring that you don’t overspend.
- Read, read, read. When looking at nutrition facts labels, zero in on calories, and don’t forget to multiply the calories per serving size by the number of servings you actually eat. Some small packages such as vending-machine snacks may look like a single serving to you but actually contain 2.5 servings. If you eat the whole thing, you need to multiply the calories per serving by 2.5
- Compare similar foods, and stock up on lower-calorie versions. For example, cup and puffed or flake cereals are generally lower-cal than check, square, or biscuit varieties for the same portion
- choose water produce. Water itself provides no calories, so snack on grape tomatoes instead of crackers, melon or berries instead of gummi bears, and raw veggies with hummus instead of cheesy puffs. This strategy allows you to significantly slash calories without going hungry, since much of what you’re eating is calories free water.
- Eliminate or cut back on calories from beverages. If you can’t drink coffee without cream and sugar but you only need lemon in your tea, try swapping one cup of java for a mug of Earl Grey.
- Use lower-calorie condiments that provide rich flavor, such as spicy seeded mustard instead of mayo, balsamic vinegar instead of honey mustard dip, and hummus instead of mayo.