When it comes to weight loss, there isn’t one diet that is perfect for each and every person. There are many many ways to “lose weight.” Within that, there are healthier ways of losing weight than others. But no matter what diet or weight loss plan someone is following, there is one common aspect. Calories.
More specifically, consuming fewer calories than you burn in the day to create a caloric deficit. Now, where these calories come from is what varies from diet to diet. Low Carb … low fat …. carb cycling … Intermittent fasting … all create a caloric deficit to be effective.
No one single strategy is best or can universally be suggested to all people. We are all built differently, both physically and mentally and what works for one person may not work for others. Shoot, as much as I am a big supporter of moderation and portion control plans, I realize that some people do better on more specific or strict plans.
But no matter what your plan is, there is no getting around the fact that calories are important. Calories are important and in today’s society, they are everywhere! Even foods that are marketed as “healthy” both at grocery stores and restaurants are usually jam-packed with extra calories. Don’t believe me? Google it. Look up a few of your favorite meals when you go out to eat and see the caloric total. I am guessing it is higher than you thought. Same with your food at stores … read the labels… are you shocked at how many calories can be in one item?
So … if all nutrition plans for weight loss come down to calories in vs calories out … and there are extra calories in most foods … It’s pretty easy to see that we can accidentally sabotage our own fat loss efforts without realizing it! Trust me I understand how frustrating that can be! I wasted multiple years spinning my wheels yo-yo dieting. But I learned a lot during that process, and here are the 5 tips I have for how to avoid overeating.
1) Understanding how important calories are and how the amount you consume will impact your results. Truly understanding this makes it easier to make good decisions.
2) Do not drink your calories. The common examples are soda … juices … sports drinks… But I am taking it a step further and want you to be aware of your fruit smoothies, antioxidant green drinks, and all these things that are marketed as healthy. Are they healthy from a vitamin standpoint, most likely, but in most cases the number of calories in them can bring your weight loss efforts to a screeching halt. So if you are going to have these drinks above or any drink at all, make sure you fully understand the calories you are consuming.
3) Don’t hang around the chip bowl. I say chips, but this applies to any and all finger foods, appetizers, and snacks. If you are at a social gathering, utilize the little plates they have set out to put a small portion on your plate and then walk away from the table! This will help prevent mindless snacking. The same concept applies at home. If you open a bag of popcorn … pour an appropriate amount into a small bowl, close the bag up, put it fully away in the cabinet, and then go back to watching your movie.
4) Protein and veggies first. When you are eating anything other than something you prepared and know what is exactly in it … start with eating your Protein and Veggies. This will help fill you up, making it easier to not overeat your carbohydrates like rice, bread, potatoes, etc. Carbohydrates and Fats are very easy to overeat because they are calorically dense. Meaning you can jam a lot of calories into a small serving size. The best example I know, 200 calories from Peanut Butter (fat source) is only 2 TBSP …. for that same 200 calories you could have 5ounces of Chicken or 5 cups of green beans … that is a lot more food and is much more satisfying than 200 calories of Peanut Butter. Making it easier to not overeat with calories.
5) Be careful with condiments and sauces. When it comes to calories, a little bit can go a long way! I would suggest avoiding the mayo-laden, creamy, heavier sauces, and sweeter BBQ sauces for the most part as they will typically have higher calorie amounts. You can easily sub them out for lower calorie options.
When you use those five strategies, it will make it much easier to avoid extra calories in food. In the end, weight loss always comes down to the number of calories we eat. If we want to lose weight or improve our body composition, we must accept the responsibility and learn to keep better track of our calories. Doing so will help to achieve our goals today and any goals in the future.
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavorial Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.