Calculate Caloric Intake – In order to monitor your daily food intake you must first determine how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight. To calculate that you can multiply 7 by each pound of weight. That will give you a good starting point. You should not, however, exceed over 2000 calories per day. I started my weight loss by simply subtracting 200 calories from the daily recommended allowance which started me at 1800. When I would stop having losses I would subtract another 200 calories. The lowest amount I ate was 1400-1500 per day.
Know Your Serving Size – When counting calories be sure you are eating the correct portion size. I read every label and measured everything. Each portion of meat, cereal, snacks and sides went on the scale or in a measuring cup. A 2 oz mistake can be a costly 150 calories!
Eat Lots of Fiber and Protein – These both make you feel fuller, longer. A bowl of cereal is about the same amount of calories as a bowl of Weight Control Oatmeal, but the significant amount of difference in the protein and fiber means that one will hold me over to lunch and the other will make me want to snack and end up eating more calories in the long run.
Make Each Calorie Count – When you are down to 1400 calories you really want to eat things that are not only satisfying but filling. This is when it must become a lifestyle change rather than a diet. If you simply deprive yourself to lose weight you won't sustain the weight loss. To make each calorie count make better choices. A 4 oz. Boneless, skinless, chicken breast is 132 calories where a 4 oz. Sirloin steak is 254 calories. For half the calories you can have the same amount of protein and less fat. I have found since losing weight that I really avoid red meat, pasta and pizza because I am just not willing to waste the calories on those foods. I eat much more chicken, lean ground meat or substitute ground turkey in things like chili and casseroles.
Prepare and Plan – It is almost impossible to lose weight if you eat out a lot. Preparing food at home is essential. When I crave a nice juicy cheese burger I avoid the drive-through and make it at home instead. If I use 95% lean ground meat, reduced fat cheese, FF may and lots of veggies I save myself about 200 calories and it actually tastes so much better. If you find that you must eat out plan ahead what you will do. You can look up nutritional information for every restaurant online and many calorie counting books will have some restaurant info as well. I usually order a grilled chicken sandwich with honey mustard rather than mayo when eating fast food.
Log Your Calories – Your food diary is your best friend. Think about it, if you can't remember to log your food when you are eating it do you really think you will remember how many calories you ate at the end of the day? You have to be sure you write down each food item and how many calories it contained. I would use check boxes to visually see my caloric intake for each day.
Allow for Treats and Snacks – We need to have some food we enjoy if want the weight loss to be sustainable. I allow myself a bowl of 94% FF popcorn when I watch my evening television show rather than snacking on a bottomless bag of chips. I also keep 80 calorie FF pudding on hand for a desert after a meal if I want something sweet. Find what low cal options work best for you. I found that the 100 calorie cupcakes were so good I ended up eating them more often. It's best to avoid tempting treats, even when they are low cal.
Eat Veggies – I try to eat a vegetable with every meal. I also do not count the non-starchy veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, onions, etc. in my daily count. So when I was eating 1400 calories a day I was not counting any of the broccoli I had with my dinner or the green beans I ate with lunch. You do however have to count any butter, dressing or other stuff you eat on or with these veggies. I always count my starchier veggies such as potatoes, corn, peas, etc.
Drink Plenty of Water – It is essential to drink plenty of water for good health and weight loss. Drinking water before a meal and between meals can help ease some hunger pains and keep you from snacking.
Exercise – It is just as important to burn calories as it is to eat less of them. Whenever I started to reach a plateau I would know that it was time to increase my level of exercise. I made sure that I exercised 3-5 times per week for about 30-45 minutes a day, although when I first started I only lasted about 15-20 minutes per day. The trick is to find a way to keep it fun and motivating. I also found that if I exercised at the times I was more vulnerable to snacking I would end up snacking a lot less because I never felt like eating right after a good work out.
Once you reach your goal and can start adding calories back into your diet be sure to do it slowly and make good choices about what foods you add in. You want to make sure you don't get back into bad habits. I generally still limit my snacks and sweets and continue to eat lots of fruits and veggies and leaner meats. While I am now able to indulge myself from time to time I have learned that a treat tastes a whole lot better when it remains just that, a treat.
To sum it all up all you need to really do is eat the correct amount of calories each day and exercise. If you do that right you too will reach your weight loss goal. You may not get there in a hurry but you will be able to maintain it for a lifetime.