If you’re focused on losing weight this winter, then chances are, you’re counting your calories. It’s easy to keep track of everything you eat and add it all up each day, but actually reducing your calorie intake is something else altogether. No worries! I can help. Here are my top ten ways to reduce your daily calorie intake.
1 Figure out How Many You Need
The first thing you need to figure out is how many calories you actually need reach day. There’s a fantastic, easy-to-use calculator at mypyramid.gov that can help. It takes into account your age, sex, height, and current weight, along with your level of activity. Once you plug in all of these factors, the calculator will give you a personalized diet plan, and as part of your plan, it will tell you how many calories you can consume each day (along with how many of those can come from junk food).
2 Know the Numbers
Did you know that the different types of macronutrients have different numbers of calories? It’s true! Protein and carbs contain 4 calories for each gram, alcohol contains 7 calories for each gram, and fat has a whopping 9 calories for each gram… now that you know how many calories are in each gram of fat, it makes sense that cutting fat is the best way to cut calories.
3 Keep Track
Buy a small notepad or memo book to record the foods you eat, and the corresponding calorie count. Once you keep track or a week, you can look back and see which choices were the best, and which food choices left you unhappy and embarrassed. It’s shocking how many calories you will be able to cut, once you see where your weaknesses are.
4 Be Honest
When you’re keeping track for your “test” period, make sure to be completely honest. Don’t fudge the numbers, and don’t leave out that emergency chocolate truffle you ate at mid-day!
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5 Get Help
If you’re having a hard time cutting calories, or reducing your intake, you can seek professional help, or just talk to a friend who is also dieting. It’s great to have a cheering section, as the hardest part of most diets is keeping a positive attitude.
6 Choose “smart” Calories
Sometimes food items can have the same number of calories, but the calories in one of the foods may be “smarter.” For example, choosing foods that have more fiber, or more protein, will make your body work a little harder to process them, burning as many as 15 or 20 extra calories each day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can add up, especially if you feel like you’ve hit a plateau. Also, if you’re eating foods that are higher in fiber and protein, you’ll feel fuller, faster.
7 Pitch the Cans and Boxes
This is the absolute simplest way to cut calories. Walk over to your pantry, open it, take out all of the cans and boxes of prepared foods, put them in a big paper bag, and set them aside. Anything that’s designed to sit on a store shelf in a box or a can for any amount of time is going to be loaded with sodium, fat, and therefore calories, so it will taste good. It’s also full of nasty chemicals and preservatives with names I can’t even pronounce… so let’s stop eating them!
8 Drinks Count, Too
When you’re counting calories, don’t forget to include the beverages you drink! Colas and juices have a lot, and believe it or not, so do coffee drinks! For example, a venti mocha with whipped cream from Starbuck’s has a whopping 450 calories! If you’re on a 2200-calorie diet, that’s almost one-quarter of your calories for one day right there!
9 Ditch the Drive-thru
Aside from avoiding canned and boxed prepared foods, the best thing you can do to reduce your calorie intake is to stop eating fast food. It’s terribly fattening (a double-cheeseburger, medium fries, and medium Coke from McDonald’s has 1030 calories. That’s almost HALF the calories you ought to be eating each day! Amazing…). If you can’t bear to part with your drive-thru foods, then try ordering without the cheese and mayo-based dressings. Also, try substituting French fries for something more healthful (and lower in calories), like sliced apples. Some fast food restaurants have entire menus dedicated to low-calorie eaters, like the Taco Bell Fresco Menu “Drive Thru Diet.” Yum!
10 Know Your Potions
Each morning, when I sit down to breakfast, I pour a big bowl of cereal, which, when I measured it, ended up being more than twice the normal serving size. So when I count the calories for my bowl of cereal, I have to multiply what’s on the label by 2. When you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, stick to what the producer of the food item suggest as a serving. You’ll be shocked (pleasantly) by how many fewer calories you’re consuming!
Once your body adjusts to the new number of calories you’re consuming, you’ll feel healthier and more satisfied with every passing day. And now that you know some sneaky ways to reduce your calorie intake, you’ll be shedding pounds in no time! Do you have any other ideas on how to reduce your calorie consumption? Please let me know!
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