Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cut Calories and Lose Weight in 12 Easy Steps

If you are overweight or obese, you may need to cut calories to lose weight. You could spend a lot of time measuring everything you eat to the half-cup or teaspoon, or you could weigh everything to the gram. You could even get a calorie counter and count the number of calories in everything you consume. Some people might find this process intriguing, or even fun and engaging. But do you want to get burdened with all of that, or would you rather take a simpler approach? Actually, there is a simpler way. If you want to cut calories without the hassle and lose weight fast, here are 12 easy steps to help you get started:

Cutting Calories

  1. Vegetables. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, unless you opt for starchy root vegetables. So make these the central focus of your meals. 
  2. Fruits. Most fruits are higher in calories than vegetables, but these foods pack a punch when it comes to antioxidants and other vital nutrients. Look for those fruits that are lower in calories and eat those more often. Avoid adding sugar or any sweetener to your fruits. Also, avoid fruit juices, as these tend to be higher in sugar and total calories than the natural fruit.
  3. Grains. Choose whole grains rather than refined grains. Most foods made with whole grains will give you extra fiber without unwanted calories. On the other hand, foods made from refined grains are more likely to have added fats and sugars, thus giving you more calories per serving. 
  4. Milk. Choose non-fat or low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. This move could cut the number of calories you get by 50 percent or more. 
  5. Meat. Eating beef and pork less often is a good way to cut calories from this group of food. Another strategy is to buy lean cuts of meat and trim away any visible fat. Do the same for poultry. You can lower your total calorie intake by this one simple step. Additionally, choose a method of cooking that does not require adding fat to the meat or meat dish. 
  6. Seafood. It is okay to eat seafood that is high in fat, primarily because the fat in these foods are healthy, omega-3 fats that might be otherwise hard to get. There are real health benefits to be gained from eating fatty fish (although you have to be careful about seafood that may contain high levels of mercury). Avoid frying or otherwise preparing seafood with added fat, as this lead to a significant increase in total calories. 
  7. Dried Beans and Peas. Dried beans and peas are so densely packed with fiber and nutrients they should be on the top of the list for anyone trying to lose weight. Eat these often, but avoid adding fats of any kind, including fatty meats to dishes made with beans or peas. 
  8. Nuts. Nuts are high in fat and therefore, many healthcare workers caution against eating too many nuts. Nuts are great to snack on. They offer healthy fats along with other vital nutrients, and are likely to help you stay away from snacking on high-calorie junk food. Just remember that you will be getting a few extra calories from the nuts and try not to go overboard with them. Keeping your intake of nuts to about an ounce a day is a good idea if you must restrict your calories.
  9. Water. While you cannot cut calories in unadulterated water, you can use this fluid to help curb your appetite and thus reduce the number of calories you are likely to consume. Drink water often between meals and within 30 minutes to an hour of mealtime. 
  10. Fats and Oils. Avoid adding fat or oil in cooking and at the table. Something as simple as adding one tablespoon of fat or oil could make a difference of between 100 and 150 calories, which may impact your ability to lose the weight. This might not seem like much to you, but over a period of one year, it could make the difference in whether or not you lose or gain 10 pounds. 
  11. Sugars. Avoid foods with added sugars. If you must eat those foods, eat as little as you can. Sodas and other sweetened beverages may be the biggest source of sugar in your diet, so do your best to avoid such drinks. 
  12. Alcohol. Wine is a great source of antioxidants and may protect your heart and blood vessels. According to healthcare experts, one or two drinks a day may be okay for women and men respectively. Beyond that, you could be getting more calories than you need, thus impeding your ability to lose weight. Besides, drinking can also lower your willpower and cause you to eat more than you should.

Please note: The information provided on this site is for education and general information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please see your appropriate medical authority for personalized medical attention. Also, the appearance of any product or service on this site does not constitute an endorsement, unless specifically indicated.

About Dr. Dorene E. Carter
Dr. Dorene E. Carter is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant with over 25 years of experience in nutrition education, counseling, training, consulting and writing. She is founder and CEO of CHANA Project, the Child Health and Nutrition Access Project, a nonprofit organization serving children and families. Dr. Carter received her PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley.