One pound at a time, one tablespoon at a time
When it comes to weight loss, don’t discount the small things. Though drastic measures may be tempting in moments of desperation, lasting weight loss can be yours with a few tweaks here and there. Don’t get me wrong–weight loss almost always requires due diligence and commitment. But! If you are a clever one, you might just be able to lose a few pounds without too much heartache. But like I said, it’s about the small things.
Remember that to lose one pound in one week, you must create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day; that is to say, you must be eating 500 calories LESS THAN what you need to maintain your weight. So, if you hold your own at 2200 calories, you would need to consume about 1700 calories per day to lose one pound over the course of a week. While you can certainly track your calories throughout the day and follow a specific calorie plan appropriate for your weight loss goals, you can also come at it from the other direction and cut calories from what you typically eat. This works especially well if you have been maintaining your weight for the past couple months or more. After all, if your weight has been steady, this means you have been eating the right amount of calories to match your body’s needs.
Whenever looking for calories to cut, I like to start with the easy targets–calories that won’t be sorely missed. Here are a few ideas to try this week:
- Choose your beverages wisely. Liquid calories can pack in a lot of calories without filling you up. Common culprits are regular soda, energy drinks, juice, alcohol, and coffee drinks. Aside from milk (are you getting your 3 servings of dairy per day?), try to limit the number of calories you’re drinking. While you certainly don’t have to eliminate all of your favorite drinks, most of the above contain 150 calories or more in a typical serving. Cutting out just one (or two!) would get you well on your way to that 500 calorie target.
- Look out for added fats. Salads are an obvious offender here. Though the innocent greens are low-calorie and rich in nutrients, they become quite the calorie bomb once hosed down with salad dressing, whether you go for creamy Ranch or an olive oil vinaigrette. To cut down, order that dressing on the side and limit yourself to 2 tablespoons. You’ll likely save yourself at least 150 calories if not much more (many restaurants ladle on 1/2 cup of dressing–that’s 600 calories!). Other added fats to watch are butter, oil, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese (a medium-fat protein), nuts and peanut butter (high-fat proteins)–just to name a few. One trick to try: skip 3 tablespoons of fat per day. This might be some of the oil you cook with, mayo on your sandwich, or using less salad dressing at dinner. Though the difference in volume is minimal, you’ll save around 300 calories!
- Start every meal with a fruit and/or vegetable serving. Studies have shown that people who begin their meals with a veggie-loaded, broth-based soup or a salad splashed with low-calorie dressing eat 15% fewer calories over the course of their meal than those who don’t partake in such an appetizer. Eating an apple before meals has been shown to have similar benefits. Why? Not only do you begin to physically fill up your stomach with lower calorie foods, but your brain also has more time to recognize that food is going down the hatch and that your hunger is being satisfied. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for the ole’ noodle to register that satisfaction, so beginning with a low-calorie starter will ultimately help you eat less while still feeling like you’ve had enough.