In my last post, I gave you a little push to work out for the new you in 2011, but as I mentioned before, weight loss is simply calories-in vs calories-out. I thought the best advice I could give on dieting would be how to cut calories in a healthy, effective, and sustainable way. Even for those of you who don’t feel the need to “lose weight”, but still want to get in shape and toned up- changing your diet habits and burning some extra calories will be a huge help!
Portion Control- The most important factor in cutting calories is eating less. Many people don’t realize what actual serving sizes look like. A serving of pasta and rice is 1/2 cup, a serving of bread is 1 regular slice or 2 reduced calorie slices, a serving of starchy vegetables is 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes, peas, or corn or 1 small potato, and a serving of meat is 3oz, or about the size of a deck of cards for those of you without a food scale. For the average sized woman, choose 1-2 of starch or grain and 1 serving of lean meat like chicken or fish. Don’t forget your green veggies!
Balance– The most effective balance for weight loss and control is 50% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 30% fat. This may seem difficult to monitor, but there a couple ways of simplifying it. The way I do it is just to think about all my meals for the day ahead of time. For example, I make sure to get some protein at each meal (milk with my cereal, nuts on my salad, chicken with pasta, etc). I also plan on eating a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich if I plan on having pasta as my main ingredient for dinner. You can also log onto myfitnesspal.com, which can count for you, or you can use the “plate method”. The plate method divides the plate into 3 parts: 1/2 the plate would be green or non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 of the plate meat, and 1/4 of the plate a starch or grain. (The plate method may seem like there is less than 50% carbohydrate, but keep in mind that vegetables and fruit also contain some carbs.)
Substitute- A great way to cut out calories is to substitue for low-fat versions of certain food items or condiments. Aside from choosing lean meats like chicken and fish instead of steak and hamburgers, you can also choose things like low-fat mayonnaise or light butter. I personally like Smart Balance Light butter and my family likes Olivio. Another great food to substitute is ice cream- it is my absolute favorite food and if you get a good brand you can’t even tell the difference! Lately I’ve been love-love-loving Turkey Hill; they have amazing flavors like Skinny Minty and Extreme Cookies and Cream. Substituting is a great way to cut calories- as long as you don’t have the mindset that you can eat more when you use these, so make sure to pay attention to the serving sizes! That’s the same reason why many people will try to tell you that diet soda makes you gain weight- it only will if you drink diet soda and then think “well i guess i can double up on dessert!” Trust me, if you’re just substituting your regular soda or other sugary drink with a diet version, and not eating more, it WILL help you lose.
Snack!- Many people try to avoid snacking but if you choose healthy snacks, it can actually help you lose weight. This is because it prevents you from becoming overly hungry for your next meal which ultimately keeps you from overeating. Choose a healthy carb like whole grain bread or crackers or a piece of fruit, and pair it with a healthy protein like nuts, peanut butter, or low-fat cottage cheese. This helps pick up your energy and keep you satisfied and full longer. Stick to 1 healthy snack between breakfast and lunch and 1 between lunch and dinner. If it fits into your healthy plan, go ahead and have a small low-cal dessert after dinner like the low-fat ice cream I mentioned before!
These tips should help get you started! Keep in mind that change doesn’t happen over-night. Make these changes 1 or 2 at a time, along with gradually increasing your physical activity, to make your lifestyle a healthy one that you can sustain for the rest of your life!