Believe it or not, a weight-loss program that overly restricts calories will set you up for failure, as will a skipped meal. There is a point at which cutting calories will work against weight loss because consuming too few calories (or too few meals) leads to increased appetite and low satiety as your body prevents starvation. You will find it hard to implement your healthy eating goals when you’re feeling hungry and dissatisfied. And you will suffer from cravings, ultimately causing you to fall into under-eating and over-eating cycles.
Your body will make a choice: lose body fat or lose muscle. An inadequately fueled body will choose to drop calorie-burning muscle rather than fat. Excessive loss of lean muscle mass leads to weight loss without improvement of body composition or health. This leaves you frustrated and ever-battling your weight.
Ever think that there could be a more pleasurable and successful way to manage your weight? There is…and it’s simple: eat high-volume foods more often.
Create an eating plan to control your calories and make sure you’re eating balanced meals and snacks. A consistent eating pattern will control your energy level, appetite, cravings, blood glucose and insulin levels. Plus--eating regular meals and snacks help you practice portion control and fuel your resting metabolism.
Be Aware of Your Personal Needs
Be aware of your personal needs. Your resting metabolic rate can be roughly estimated by multiplying your body weight (in pounds) by 10. This is the minimum number of calories that your body needs to lose weight. Consuming fewer calories than your resting metabolism is counteractive. Your total daily needs are your resting metabolic rate plus the calories burned in everyday living and in exercise. Divide your calories evenly throughout the day so that you fuel your body every three to five hours.
- For example, a 145-pound woman’s resting metabolic rate is roughly 1450 calories. Factor in calories of everyday living and exercise, and she needs about 2000 calories to maintain her weight. 1450 calories is her minimum and 2000 calories is her maximum.
Breakfast Is KEY
Start the day with a well-balanced breakfast that includes a lean protein-rich food along with whole grains and veggies or fruit. High-quality protein at breakfast will help control your appetite all day. Breakfast starts your metabolic engine and is associated with successful maintenance of weight loss. Without it, you are prone to overeating later in the day. Even when mornings are rushed, choose one of these tasty, quick breakfast ideas.
- Poached omega-3 enriched egg, on sprouted grain toast with tomato slices drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil (to save time, use a pre-cooked hardboiled egg)
- Low-fat cottage cheese with berries, sprinkled with ground flaxseeds on 100 percent whole grain crackers
- Smoothie made with frozen berries, frozen mangos, silken organic tofu, low-fat plain yogurt and cinnamon (place in the fridge the night before)
- Egg whites scrambled with broccoli, nitrate-free chicken sausage and feta, stuffed into a whole grain pita
- Hot oatmeal or quinoa with apples, cinnamon and pecans (make a large batch to reheat throughout the week)
A well-timed snack will prevent that late afternoon crash and overeating at meal time. Plan to snack. Keep healthy options accessible to avoid the candy dish. Healthy but high-calorie snacks such as nuts and dried fruit should be consumed in small amounts. Prepare these snacks ahead of time so that they are ready when you need them.
- Jicama and low-fat ricotta cheese mixed with basil and oregano
- A small apple with almond butter
- Low-fat plain yogurt with granola and berries, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon
- Snack baggie of dried blueberries, walnuts and bran flakes
- Cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper hummus
Eat More to Consume Less
Nourish your body with quality foods that you can eat more of such as foods that are high in volume, but low in calories. This will help to fill your plate and your stomach without overdoing the calories. Load half of your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits and one-quarter of your plate with whole grains, starchy veggies or legumes. The other quarter is for a moderate portion of higher calorie protein-rich foods. Use this concept to cut calories and create balanced meals. For example:
- Add minestrone soup to a half turkey sandwich at lunch.
- Add a sliced apple to your afternoon snack to eat fewer crackers and cheese.
- Add a colorful salad to dinner and eat half your entrée
Calorie restriction and skipping meals may seem like the clear path to weight loss, and you may lose weight using these strategies, but your weight loss will be slow and frustrating. More importantly, you will lose valuable muscle mass and ultimately you are sure to regain the weight you have lost. Fuel your metabolism and nourish your body with high-quality, nutrient-dense foods to stop battling your weight and lose fat forever.