Hi Friends and Happy Tuesday!
A couple of years ago if someone asked me how to lose weight I would have started them on a calorie counting website and called it a day (in fact I did this a couple times for friends and family, sorry!) Boy have I learned a lot since becoming a Dietitian! I’ve written a few times about my calorie counting experiences (Part One, Two and Three) and I know that many of my readers liked the posts. I realized what I haven’t written about is my weight managements strategies without calorie counting. I have a few simple almost rules that I incorporate every single day which help me keep calories in check without feeling restricted or having to actually count. While I still think it’s important to have an idea of what foods are higher and lower calories, I no longer think calorie counting is necessary to reach your weight goal or maintain it.
Since I won’t have time this week to recap all my meals from last week, I included some of them in this post.
My Top 5 Weight Loss (Maintenance) Tips
1. Focus on Vegetables
Vegetables are a filling way to add volume to your meal without calories. I’m the kind of person that likes to see A LOT of food on my plate and vegetables are a sneaky way to trick my eyes and my stomach. I almost always try to make the base of my meal vegetables or have them on the side. One obvious example is a salad, but another example is stir-fry. Most people usually base their meal with rice, I start mine with vegetables and add a smaller portion of rice on top depending on how hungry I am. I also pack veggies into quiches (like in my Shaved Brussel Sprout and Spinach Quiche or my Leek and Asparagus Frittata), casseroles (for example Cauliflower Pizza Casserole), muffins (Blueberry Zucchini Muffins and Carrot Cake Quinoa Muffins) and even smoothies (Tropical Carrot Protein Smoothie or Pumpkin Green Smoothie).
A few of last weeks veggie packed meals-
– Cheesey Zucchini Chicken Sausage
– Green Smoothie (similar to my sunbutter lover smoothie)
– Salad with goat cheese and chicken
– Oven “Fried” Drumstick and Broccoli
2. Eat Big Breakfasts with Protein and Healthy Fats
I used to skip breakfast or start with a sugary bowl of cereal or low fat muffin. Now, I like to start my day off with a big breakfast that includes at least 15 grams of protein and a healthy dose of good fats. I start the day feeling satisfied, energized and not restricted which helps me stay on track the rest of the day. Some of my favorites are DIY Green Chile and Cheese Frozen Breakfast Burritos, Overnight Oats, or Protein Smoothies.
– BLT Quiche (recipe coming really soon I swear!)
– Quesadilla with almond butter and banana (eaten in the car on the way to work while I was stuck in traffic)
– Yogurt and trail mix
– Spinach Omelet
3. Don’t Get Too Hungry
I try not to let myself get to the ravenous phase of hunger where I’m likely to eat whatever is in sight. Instead I pack lots of veggies and dips (recently baby carrots and laughing cow wedges) to take with me in case I get hungry in between meals. If I know I’ve got a hard workout planned or a lower calorie lunch I’ll also bring a more filling snack with me to compensate like banana/apple and nut butters. I usually snack on fruit in the morning or late afternoon to feed my sweet tooth.
– carrots and almonds
– carrots and laughing cow
– homemade protein bars with peanut butter (they were good but not quite blog worthy yet)
– protein fudge (also in the recipe development stage)
I usually eat bananas as part of a meal, but last week they were more of a snack.
4. Choose Whole Foods Most Often
Not the store! I mean I try and pick whole food options more often than convenient snacks. For example, fruit and nut butter instead of a granola bar or something like a cottage cheese/greek yogurt and berries instead of a protein shake. Of course, sometimes I’m on the go and need the convenience of granola bars and protein shakes. I just try and save them for when I’m actually out running around and choose whole food when I’m at home.
Below is an example of the weird meal I’ve ever eaten (other than the time I put cinnamon garbanzo beans in my cereal) before Orange Theory. Cottage Cheese, Plain Greek Yogurt and Vanilla Greek Yogurt plus frozen blueberries and trail mix. It wasn’t half bad, I’d actually eat it again…maybe….
5. Don’t Stuff Myself
What I really mean is practice portion control, but I think that is kind of a blanket statement that doesn’t mean much. After calorie counting I fell into an all or nothing rut. I felt like I needed to clear my plate either because I knew it had an “appropriate” amount of calories or because it was high in calories and I felt like I wouldn’t get the chance to have it again for a long time. Now, I try and eat till I’m no longer hungry or I’m 80% full. I don’t undereat or overly stuff myself, I eat until I’m comfortable. If there are leftovers I save them until I’m hungry again. I no longer feel like I have to “clear my plate.”
Last week I was really hungry one lunch and knew my salad was just not going to cut it. I went to Whole Foods (the store) and got a wrap. I ate half of the wrap for lunch and then about 3 hours later ate the other half as part of an early dinner.