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A Trainer’s Favorite Ways to Cut Calories

“I often find that my clients who are struggling to lose weight, despite working out consistently and effectively, are only using half the equation. Nutrition actually accounts for most of your weight loss results. Below are my daily tips for reducing extra calories in your diet:

  • Drink more water. Hunger is oftentimes interpreted as thirst. My day starts with a glass of water. Carry a favorite water bottle with you everywhere you go.
  • Eat your fruit instead of drinking it. Even if your beverage of choice is 100% fruit juice, the fiber has been removed. That means all that sugar goes straight to your stores. An eight ounce glass of REAL orange juice is almost as much sugar as its weight in soda.
  • Pace yourself. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your stomach to realize it’s full. Be sure to set down the sandwich or fork once in a while. Get a drink in between bites. Finish chewing before lining up your next bite. This is especially difficult for me when I’m excited about a dish, but is necessary to keep myself from needlessly overeating.
  • Start with a smaller plate. You can always get more. As a young man eating dinner with my family I was always told, “Clean your plate.” I still do this subconsciously to this day. It oftentimes forces me to eat more than I actually want, because I always tell myself I have to finish. Eat less and enjoy some leftovers.
  • Look for nutrient dense foods, not calorically dense. Nutrient or vitamin dense foods require energy for the body to break down and have a greater satiation effect.
  • Don’t eat in front of a screen. Your brain will get lost in a video and won’t pay attention to how full your stomach may already be. This goes for snacking as well as full meals.
  • Ditch the junk food. High calorie or “processed foods” spike the body’s insulin and trick you into thinking you are still hungry despite massive caloric consumption.

Here are a few of my favorite food substitutes to cut out unnecessary calories:

  • Let’s talk about milk. I hate to say it, but even your skim milk has a lot of sugar per serving. As a chronic milk consumer, making the transition to almond milk was difficult at first. Now I’m getting far more calcium and nutrients at zero added sugar.
  • Alcohol is empty calories. My suggestions to those who will drink regardless are to choose a more expensive or even stronger beverage over excessive beer or wine. Hold a favorite scotch or martini at the bar rather than pull the ole’ college 12-pack challenge. The goal here is to drink slower, enjoy it more, and drink less calories in the long haul.
  • Check your peanut butter label. Peter Pan, Jiffy, it doesn’t matter, it’s all got to go! Your substitute: REAL peanut butter. No added sugars.
  • Ice cream: Your enemy and mine. Try this as a substitute:
    Blend a half banana and/or half avocado with 1/2 cup frozen berries and a scoop of your favorite protein powder. The sweetness is now natural and the consistency is similar to ice cream. You can thank me later.
  • Healthy snacking. We all know what a bad snack looks like. If you don’t buy them, they won’t be an option. One of my favorite snacks is hummus and vegetables. A good hummus will encourage more quality snacking of fibrous vegetables. These will fill you up quicker than any amount of cookies or chips.
  • Kick the refined carbohydrates. Unused carbs become sugar in the bloodstream Our bodies take in carbohydrates which turn into glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles. Our bodies use glucose as its main energy source before they turn to burning fat as an energy source. So, feeding ourselves less carbs and sugar will in turn assist our bodies in burning more fat.
  • Cauliflower is a wonderful rice substitute. Grate your cauliflower on a cheese box grater. Lightly poach the cauliflower “rice” in water, broth, or even coconut milk until desired consistency. Strain and enjoy.
  • Zucchini and squash noodles are excellent pasta substitutes. Use a veggie spiraler or even a carrot peeler to make “noodles” out of miscellaneous squashes. These can be enjoyed raw or lightly sautéed in oil with salt and pepper. Treat them like any other pasta and enjoy with your favorite pasta sauce.

If you keep these food items on hand in your pantry and start integrating them into your daily routine, it won’t be long before these become habits. Feel free to experiment with different recipes and ideas – and most importantly, have fun with your health!”

-Lee Clark, Ortho-Kinetics® Trainer

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