We’re all on a calorie budget...too many calories and we will eventually break the waistline bank...too few calories and we will eventually break the metabolism bank. Make sure you are not eating less than 1200 calories if you’re a woman or 1500 calories if you’re a man. Please note that those are not calorie recommendations but rather, they are bare minimums which you should not eat below...you likely need more. It is better to base your calorie intake off formulas that use your BMR and activity level to estimate your needs. There are numerous calculators online. Here’s a website that has a calculator and explanation: http://bmi-calories.com/calorie-intake-calculator.html
If you choose to eat below your calorie needs, you may lose weight initially, but after a sustained time of under eating, it will catch up to you. Your metabolism will eventually begin to slow and instead of losing weight, your body will fight to hold on to every bit of weight you have in order to preserve itself in its perceived state of starvation. Do not under eat.
Now to address another key factor...choose nutrient dense, filling foods over less filling, calorie rich foods. Your processed and packaged foods are likely to be your calorie rich but less filling foods that are taking up space in your calorie bank without giving you much if any nutritional return, leaving you filling unsatisfied and hungry in the long run. Get more bang for your bite: go for nutrient dense foods that promote satiety and yield big portions for few calories. Protein and fiber promote satiety. Protein is a big game changer in maintaining healthy weight. Protein changes the levels of several weight regulating hormones. In order for your brain to determine when and how much to eat, it processes multiple different types of information. Some of the most important signals to the brain are hormones that change in response to feeding. A higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin, while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Another important factor of protein intake: protein helps prevent muscle loss and metabolic slowdown. When you lose weight, muscle mass tends to be reduced as well, especially if inadequate amounts of protein are being consumed. Eating plenty of protein can reduce muscle loss, which should help keep your metabolic rate higher as you lose body fat. Strength training is another major factor that can reduce muscle loss and metabolic slowdown when losing weight. For this reason, a higher protein intake and heavy strength training are two incredibly important components of an effective fat loss plan. How much protein do you need? Aiming for protein at 30% of total calories seems to be very effective for weight loss. You can also aim for a certain number based on your weight. For example, aiming for 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of LEAN mass is a common recommendation (1.5 - 2.2 grams per kilogram). You can determine your pounds of lean mass from your Inbody report or via calculations if you know your body fat% from other methods. It is best to spread your protein intake throughout the day by eating protein with every meal. Note: I’m not advocating over consuming ridiculous amounts of protein...I’m advocating getting ENOUGH. If you use a food logging app like MyFitnessPal, you can check your daily amounts of protein, carbs and fats you consumed for the day, but you need not obsess over grams or percentages to be healthy. Keep it simple and just do this: eat a lean protein, healthy carb, and healthy fat at each meal and you should have no problem meeting your requirements for all 3 macronutrients if you eat 3 solid meals per day with 1-2 healthy snacks in between.
Now...back to the topic of replacing those high cal, nutrient poor foods with more filling, lower cal nutrient dense foods...here’s your challenge: let’s make an effort this week to see what we can replace in our food logs to improve satiety and nutrition. Example: replacing crackers with a crisp fruit or crunchy veggies dipped in Greek Yogurt. Here are just a few examples of nutrient dense foods that’ll keep you full and won’t break the calorie bank.
Examples of Nutrient Dense, Filling, Low Cal Foods:
Eggs—Eggs are one of the few foods that are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself. Make them even more filling by adding veggies to an egg scramble. Is cholesterol a concern? A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating one egg a day was not associated with an increase in heart risks. Limit yourself to 1 yolk per day...if you want to add volume, you can add egg whites. Yes, carton egg whites are okay, just purchase the kind that are pure egg whites without coloring or other ingredients added.
Greek Yogurt (plain): Greek yogurt, which is strained to remove liquid whey, contains double the protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Top yogurt with fibrous foods like raspberries (4 grams of fiber per half cup).
Apples: Apples are one of the few fruits that contain pectin, which naturally slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness, according to a study in Gastroenterology. I eat an apple everyday. Add apple chunks to oatmeal or salad, or slices to a turkey-on-whole-wheat sandwich.
Non-Starchy Veggies—Zero calorie foods are too good to be true, but veggies like cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, celery, broccoli, and cabbage come pretty close. Fill up on these!
Whole Grains—100 percent whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. The filling fiber in oats helps balance blood sugar levels. Look up some “overnight oats” recipes or crockpot steel oats recipes.
Legumes—Legumes provide the perfect combo of weight loss ingredients: fiber, complex carbs, and lots of antioxidants and nutrients. Try chickpeas, black beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, fava beans, red kidney beans and edamame. Try them in soups, salads and wraps.
There are many other examples...these are only a few, but the idea is to get us thinking about the quality of the foods we are spending our calorie dollars on...get more bang for your bite and optimize nutrition. Before you bite, ask yourself, what is this doing for my body and my goals?