To lose weight, you need to eat more. That’s right, I said MORE. The trick is that it can’t just be more of anything, but must be healthy foods.
A lot of people dieting set a daily calorie target. That’s fine. The problem comes in when they don’t pay enough attention to what or when they eat to get there. Some may eat like normal, only skipping meals so they don’t go over. Or they just eat random mix of healthy and not so healthy that gets them to their target. As a result, they frequently get hungry which leads to overeating or binging later in the day. That’s not so good.
This is where eating healthy, real foods throughout the day comes in. They often are bulky and have protein or fiber to fill you up. These foods are packed with nutrition but not a lot of calories. As a result, you can generally eat more things in the day without going over on your calories.
For example, 1200 seems to be an amount a lot of women drop their calories down to. You can have 1200 calories of junk or 1200 calories of healthy foods. Both are 1200 calories, but your body will do much better with the healthy foods. Plus, you actually get to eat more food to get there.
Check out this sample healthy foods day (I got my calorie info at fitday.com):
Breakfast: 3/4 cup oatmeal, banana
Snack: apple and 1 slice lowfat cheddar cheese
Lunch: whole grain turkey or ham sandwich, 1 boiled egg, 1oz (large handful) roasted almonds
Snack: raw carrot with 1 tablespoon hummus
Dinner: 4 oz skinless baked chicken breast, 1/2 cup steamed mixed veggies
Total: 1238 calories.
Now check out this sample not so healthy “diet” day. Most of the calories come later in the day and it’s heavy on carbs, nearly half the calories are from carbs:
Breakfast: 1 cup Special K cereal with 2% milk
Lunch: plain garden salad no dressing and low fat, reduced calorie/sugar-free yogurt
Snack: 2 crunchy-type granola bars, 1 cup orange juice
Dinner: 1 medium chicken breast (the meat is the main part of the meal), 1/2 cup steamed mixed veggies, 1 small potato (mashed with milk but no butter)
Total: 1157 calories
So with the second day, you aren’t properly spreading your calories and have unbalanced the nutrition in favor of carbs to make up for the lack of energy early on.
You don’t have to starve or skip meals. You do need to eat smaller portions and more frequently. Since you are eating every few hours, you don’t get super hungry. At least not once you get used to the lower calorie content, and that transitional hunger would happen no matter how good or bad you ate to get your day’s calories. The first few days are the worst.
Now look at the number of items you have eaten. Let’s start with the second day. If you combine the milk and cereal into one item like most people do, you only ate 8 items all day. No wonder many dieters feel deprived. Now look at the first day. Eleven items. That’s a lot! Yet, you’ve only consumed slightly over 1200 calories. Once you get through the first few days, your body will start to adapt and adjust to the lower calories and you’ll be amazed just how many items you are eating. You could even eat half an ounce of almonds at lunch instead and have a small serving of potato with dinner for 12 items in the day for about the same calories. That’s 50 percent more items than the diet day, yet less than a 100 calorie difference.
Another good thing about the first day is that you have constant energy throughout the day because you are constantly supplying your body with fuel. There is no mid-day slump since you eat a snack of a little protein and healthy carb in the afternoon instead of a candy bar, chips, or cookies.
I had been eating a lot of junk and fast foods this summer. As a result, I gained weight quickly. I’ve tried traditional diets including skipping meals, just eating cereal, and counting calories in the past. They didn’t work. I was never satisfied and hungry a lot. Now that I’ve switched to eating more, but of the right kids of foods, I’m not hungry at all, yet have lost 3 pounds this week. My husband has had to same results and commented to me how amazing it was he was losing weight without going hungry.
So what are the right and wrong kids of foods? Cut out all sweet, fried, processed, junk, and fast foods. Most of those are pretty self explanatory except perhaps processed foods. These are things with a long ingredient list full of chemicals. They are often pre-made items in cans or boxes. However, it also includes things like crackers, most cereals, and bologna. Instead, look for things with short lists of natural ingredients (not necessarily organic, that’s another story). Switch to whole grains and lower your portion size for things like breads, cereal (oatmeal or shredded wheat is great), rice,and pasta.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and produce for meals and as snacks instead of junk or processed foods. An easy way to ensure you get enough veggies but not too many carbs or meat/protein calories is divide your plate into quarters. First fill half with fruits and/or veggies. The other quarters are for lean protein and healthy carb. Then do not have seconds except the fruit or veggies (without sauce).
If you are interested in learning more about this concept of eating more to weigh less, I’d urge you to pick up a copy of The Eat Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. Also, get a free online food journal (like fitday.com or CalorieKing.com) to help keep track of your calories and nutrition each day. I don’t ever want to go back to my old ways of eating!