How Calorie Cutting Can Help
Perhaps one of the most essential tools for controlling weight for a lifetime is understanding and becoming aware of the calories within your food. Although calorie counting may seem a taboo practice of the past, it can actually play a crucial role in losing or monitoring weight and size without abiding by a strict diet. Controlling the calories in a diet enables you to eat portions of whatever foods you want (without eliminating entire food groups or weighing foods), while abiding by the timely formula for losing weight: "calories in versus calories out." This equation simply means that by eating fewer calories throughout the day (and burning more via physical activity), anyone can lose or maintain weight.
Monitor Your Intake
The first steps to creating a low-calorie diet are simply to read the nutrition facts of the foods you are eating. For the first week, strive to write down the calorie content of any of the foods you typically ingest. Many products and foods list the calorie content directly on the packaging, although it is important to check for portion sizing because it is easy to eat much larger portions (and therefore many more calories) than intended. If your foods do not list the calories, such as items like bread and fruit, then try researching the calorie content online from a notable source like www.calorieking.com. Calorie counting websites or books can be helpful in the beginning of a low-calorie plan, because researching or looking up the caloric numbers of the foods you are eating will help you become aware of your own habits.
Hit the Right Number
After you understand the calories ingested in your daily diet, try checking to make sure you are not eating too many or too few calories for personal lifestyle or weight goals. The calorie calculator at www.freedieting.com lets you access the ideal number of calories per day that you need, based upon age, size, activity levels and weight loss or maintenance goals. After you have established how many calories you need per day, it is time to start putting a plan into action by tracking your daily tally of calories and tweaking your diet accordingly.
Get Creative With Calories
There are enough low-calorie foods on the market that a diet could almost be created entirely from these products. Try purchasing pre-portioned versions of your favorite goodies, microwavable meals and pizzas or calorie-controlled treats that can help you enjoy your favorite foods while still losing weight. On the other hand, it is important to add fresh produce, low-fat dairy and lean protein to any diet, so make sure to supplement all low-calorie products with natural foods. For example, try microwaving a low-calorie lasagna dish but prepare a small fresh salad on the side, or eat a fresh tangerine or mango with a low-calorie nutrition bar.
Memorize and Repeat
If you want to learn how to cook and create entire meals from low-calorie foods, try researching the recipes and ideas at www.hungrygirl.com, which are created from low-calorie mainstays like sugar-free gelatin (10 calories per cup) or rice cakes (30 calories per cake.) The more you read about the calories in your food, the easier it is to remember an exact number without having to research the item beforehand?and the easier it is to enjoy and maintain a low-calorie lifestyle.
About this Author
Bailey Vincent Clark is a certified personal trainer, nutritional adviser and dance teacher. She writes as a nutrition and fitness columnist for nationwide Gannett newspapers and for healthy lifestyle publications. Clark also teaches as adjunct college faculty in fitness and nutrition in her area
Find more at http://www.livestrong.com/healthy-foods/.