Diet Cheat Sheet: Food and Exercise Tips to Lose Weight
Diet Cheat Sheet
It's diet season. And with all the mixed messages out there, I thought a diet cheat sheet could help keep you fit and focused on your New Year's resolutions.Food and Diet
- Calorie Bargains: Find three or four lower-calorie versions of what you typically eat (three to four times per week) and make substitutions you can live with forever. Make sure you don't overindulge in the newly found Calorie Bargain -- that defeats the purpose. For example, if you eat potato chips three lunches per week, replace them with a Calorie Bargain such as air-popped popcorn.
- Be spontaneous: Learn to be flexible and creative when eating out or traveling. Come up with a list of pre-approved foods you know are low in calories so you can avoid making too many on-the-spot decisions.
- Fast food is okay: There are low-calorie options available. Learn them before arriving at the restaurant.
- Singles only: Buy single-serving snack foods; never buy in bulk.
- Read it: Check food labels and never eat anything that contains more than 15 calories without thinking about it. That includes cookies, crackers, and chips (each chip can have as many as 15 calories).
- Buy frozen and ready-to-eat: Most of us are time-pressed. Go to the supermarket and stock up on healthy, low-calorie frozen foods (e.g., Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, or Kashi), also pick up cereals (under 120 calories per cup) and low-cal soups. When you're too tired or too busy to cook, use these tasty, lean alternatives to eating out.
- Switch: From whole milk to skim, from eggs to egg whites, and from soda to water or no-calorie iced tea.
- Eat more fiber: It helps keep you full longer. Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts, cereals, legumes, and whole-grain breads and pastas.
- Calories: Calories are made up of carbs, fats, and protein. Fats are most "expensive" at 9 calories per gram. Carbs and protein are 4 calories per gram. Also, know your calorie "budget." As a quickie guide, figure 10 calories per pound for women and 11 calories per pound for men. Then multiply that by your activity level (sedentary = 1.2, lightly active = 1.35, moderately active = 1.5, very active = 1.65, extremely active = 2.0). Reduce your calorie budget to lose weight. Know the cost of a calorie and shop wisely, because every 40 calories you take in over your calorie budget will require 10 minutes of walking to burn off.
- Carbs: Learn the good carbs from the bad ones. Good: whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Bad: starchy foods such as white pasta and white rice, candy, cakes, and sugary drinks. To lose weight, eliminate or limit bad carbs. Low-carb diets are not all bad. If you can live on a low-carb diet, and it works for you, go for it. But avoid those low-carb products that are high in calories.
- Fat: It's not all bad. You need it to make you feel full and as part of your diet. Limit unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Stick to mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils.
- Protein: It can help you lose weight by keeping you full. Just make sure to limit protein sources that are bundled with saturated fat (e.g., fatty meats, cheeses, whole dairy products, and others).
- Lose it: Find out exactly how much weight you need to lose by determining your BMI (body mass index) and using that as a guide.
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