Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lose a Pound a Week

To lose a healthy pound a week you have to cut 3,500 calories. You’ve probably already figured out the math: that’s 500 calories a day! But you don’t have to deprive yourself or add an hour to your exercise routine to reach your weight loss goals. It is surprisingly easier than you think, morning, noon, or night!

Rise and Shine: At your breakfast meal, exchange your large bagel for the mini version or for something different, an English muffin to slash 220 calories.  Choose a glass of skim milk over the whole to cut 70 calories, and if meat is your thing in the morning, turkey sausage for pork sausage to cut about 125 calories.

Watch those portions. It’s so easy to eat a whole cup of cereal rather than a half-cup serving that many boxed grains are portioned for.  A measuring cup will be your confidant of assistance when learning about this portion control thing.  Measuring out one serving can save you up to 200 calories.  While seemingly "healthy," keep in mind that a cup of granola can set you back up to 600 calories, while a cup of high-fiber cereal has only about 120.  If you are like me, granola in my Greek yogurt is a routine occurrence.  Try Special K’s low fat granola -- excellently portioned at ½ cup (most are only at ¼ cup servings), contains about 190 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of fat per serving.

Lunch Break, Get a Move On:  Walk about 15-minutes during your lunch for five days and burn 500 extra calories. Or try wearing a pedometer to measure out 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles—you’ll automatically burn 500 calories without even hitting the gym.

Dining out for lunch is common, keep it simple by ordering sauces and condiments on the side, ensuring that you have control over the extra calories in your dish. Use hummus or mustard instead of mayo, and a small deli roll for sliced bread on your sandwich, and cut about 200 calories. Rather than the fries during your fast food stop, sample a salad instead to save another 300 calories for a total of 500 saved, just at lunch.

Dinner Bell’s a Ringin’:  Rather than depriving yourself of food to drop pounds, simply use smaller plates. People eat as much as is on their dish rather than the amount that their body actually needs.  If you shrink the size of your dishes by a quarter, such as going from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate, you’ll cut 500 calories without feeling deprived.

Contrary to popular wisdom, eating late at night won’t make you gain weight. Adjusting your dinner hour to a later time actually saves calories by curbing the urge to nosh in front of the TV. Enjoying your dinner meal later—but at least 2 hours before sleeping—helps prevent mindless snacking, which often happens in the evening.

Smart Diner: The difference in a restaurant size portion versus a normal portion size is 250%. Take charge of your portion distortion by leaving a quarter of your meal on your plate.  Added butter, oils or other fats can cost up to hundreds of calories alone, so leaving a few bites of any potato or noodle dish on your plate can be beneficial as well.  Be mindful of the extras, such as the bread basket and tortilla chips.  These can easily break your calorie bank, equaling more calories than an entire meal. Make a point to check out the nutrition information on its web site before heading out to dine.  According to the American Journal of Public Health, people who sought out nutrition information before selecting their meals consumed an average of 52 fewer calories by choosing smarter meal choices. Instead of having Chili’s® Steak and Portobello Fajitas for 1130 calories, you can choose Chili’s® Classic Chicken Fajitas for just 360 calories.  Wow -- a savings of almost 800 calories!  But a fajita is a fajita?  I didn’t think so either.

Amber Massey RD, LD, Registered Dietitian
Executive Health Program
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

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