We are obsessed with food. We think about it more than anything else. We try to manipulate it to make our bodies look, feel and perform better. It causes arguments between fitness professionals on what is the ‘best’ way to utilise it. We think of amazing ways to make bland food more appealing and how to make tasty so called ‘bad’ food ‘fit’ into our lifestyles.
This article is going to teach you how you can change your daily habits when it comes to food to allow you to eat more without increasing your daily calories.
This ‘trick’ all comes down to food volume. As a side note; I’m not going to get in to whether fats or carbs are best for reducing body fat or when to eat them as this, as always, will be a personal thing and too wide of a topic to cover now. I am going to give you a few tips that I use with both my clients and myself on how we can eat more food but not more calories.
1. Don’t drink your calories:
This is a short and simple one. Liquid calories are often easy to consume and wont fill you up. Instead of having cow’s milk in your coffee or tea have it black. Or at the very least have a tiny bit of unsweetened almond milk. This could save you 40 calories per drink. If you were to have 3 to 5 drinks a day that had milk in them this could save you 120-200 calories a day. That’s 840-1400 calories a week! Small change = big result.
Smoothies and shakes even if they are advertised as healthy can contain between 150-500 calories. Although these will taste great they won’t fill you up and you will more than likely be consuming them with actual food meaning that the calories will be higher.
What you should drink is fizzy water. Even the zero-calorie flavoured fizzy waters are fine here. Fizzy water will definitely fill you up and stop you craving more food. It obviously has the added health benefits of keeping you hydrated and so is one of my top tips of things to include in your diet.
Whilst I am on the topic of hot drinks, swapping sugar for a no calorie sweetener (such as stevia – my recommended choice) is also a great way to cut down on unnecessary calories. Be smart with your choice of beverage and you’ll reduce the number of calories you consume without having to eat less food.
2. Smart Carbohydrate Swaps:
Reading food labels and tracking your food is the best way to realise what you are eating each day. Let’s take a bagel for example. They are around 250-350 calories each before you add anything to them. That is for one bagel which more than likely won’t fill you up for a substantial period of time. If you swapped this bagel for porridge oats made with water and sweetened with zero calorie stevia sweetener, you could eat 60-90 grams of oats for the same number of calories as in the bagel. This can be split into 30-40 grams of oats per bowl and you would then be able to eat 2-3 bowls of porridge a day for the same calories as 1 bagel! Believe me this will fill you up more than that bagel. You could also spread those porridge bowls out throughout the day and eat them when you are hungry and you still won’t have eaten any more calories!
Fruit is an easy to grab snack when time is short. However, not all fruit is created equal when it comes to calories. Swapping fruits such as bananas or apples for satsumas and berries is an easy way to eat more food volume without eating more calories. A small banana or medium apple is around 80 calories at 20 grams of carbs. You could eat 4 small satsumas for the same calories. Berries are also extremely low in calories for the portion size. You are looking at around 30-40 calories per 100 grams of berries. That means you could eat 200 grams of strawberries or raspberries for the same calories that an apple or small banana would hold. Another easy swap that provides you with more substance without additional calories.
Swapping your potatoes (white and/or sweet) for squash or pumpkin can not only reduce the number of calories you eat but also increase the amount of food that you consume. Squash and pumpkin are bigger in size yet smaller in calories when compared to potatoes. They taste delicious and are also packed with nutrients. Butternut squash is also now readily available in a spaghetti form due to it being spiralised. At around 30 calories per 100 grams you could save over 120 calories per serving when compared to traditional spaghetti or pasta. These smart swaps allow you to eat more food yet not more calories.
3. Eat Your Vegetables:
These bad boys are your lifeline to eating more, feeling full and feeling healthier. Yes, vegetables are awesome because they are nutrient rich. They are even more awesome because they are so low in calories per portion and they fill you up due to being higher in fibre. Take your pick of how to implement them into your diet – add them to your main meals to bulk up the portion size or take them cut up as snacks to graze on each day. No one ever got fat by eating too many vegetables so use them to your advantage! There is also such a wide variety to choose from that you can eat a different vegetable with each meal and/or snack – what a time to be alive!
One of my favourite ‘swaps’ is to use courgetti (spiralised courgette) instead of ‘normal’ spaghetti or pasta. This can save you hundreds of calories depending on your usual spaghetti portion size. Another personal favourite is to use cauliflower rice instead of ‘normal’ rice. This swap will once again save you around 150 calories per equivalent portion. These foods allow me to bulk up my main meals and then eat my carbohydrates as and when I need/desire. I will often have a lower carbohydrate dinner and then eat a couple of bowls of porridge oats before I go to bed. I feel like I am eating lots of food YET I am not eating lots of calories. The power of vegetables is never ending!
4. Rice Cakes to the Rescue:
Never have I heard a bad word about rice cakes and peanut butter as a snack. Especially if you use a powdered peanut butter as your peanut butter of choice (PPB by Hale Naturals is my recommendation here). This bad boy has 85% less fat than ‘normal’ peanut butter and so saves you a huge number of calories. Rice cakes are around 20-30 calories per rice cake. Just in case you missed that – 20-30 calories per rice cake!!!! That my friends is a low-calorie snack that you can fit in to any nutritional plan. And if you are some kind of weirdo that doesn’t like peanut butter (we can no longer be friends if that is the case) then no worries, top your rice cakes with savoury options like a low fat low calorie cheese spread or hummus and you’re still winning. Be creative as you like with your rice cakes. Eat these instead of traditional crunchy snacks like crisps and nuts which can pack a punch in the calorie department.
5. Choose Lean Meats and Fish Instead of the Fattier Cuts:
Again, this one is self-explanatory but I will go into a little more detail for you. Fat contains 9 calories per gram. Protein contains 4 calories per gram. If you go for the leaner cuts of meat and fish (such as chicken breast, turkey breast, sirloin beef steak, ground beef with 5% fat, pork loin steaks, cod, haddock, tuna) rather than the fattier cuts of meat and fish (such as chicken thighs and legs, turkey thighs and legs, some beef steaks like rib eye, ground beef with 15-20% fat, pork chops, lamb, salmon, mackerel) then you will save on calories due to the reduced amount of fat calories and be able to eat a bigger portion of meat or fish with each meal. Reduce the fat and you reduce the calories. It will also allow you to add in additional fats to your other meals (such as avocado and nuts) and therefore allow you to eat more food over the course of a day but not more calories.
6. Keeping Fat Under Control:
This one can come down to personal preference of food choice, but generally as already listed above; fat calories are higher per gram (9 calories per gram) when compared to protein and carbohydrates (both at 4 calories per gram), this means that you could be wise to keep fat lower and eat more of the other 2 macro nutrients because you will be able to eat a larger volume of food. Fat is also very calorific when it comes to portion sizes. A tablespoon of oil or small handful of nuts can be equivalent to a 30-40-gram bowl of porridge oats made with water or 5 rice cakes. Which would fill you up more!?
Whilst we are on the subject of fats, cooking your food through frying can add ‘unseen’ or rather ‘untracked’ calories. If you use a teaspoon of cooking oil to fry your food these calories still count. They don’t magically disappear just because you can’t see them. Instead of cooking with olive oil or coconut oil you could use a 1 calorie spray oil (like frylight) which will save you a heap of calories each time you cook. Alternatively, you can bake or steam your food to reduce the calorific content of it. No added fat obviously equates to a lower number of calories.
7. To Summarise:
Use the lower calorie foods that are larger in portion size to bulk up your meals and keep you feeling fuller. Manage your fat intake to ensure that you are not eating too many calories and not enough food. Don’t drink your calories! These liquid calories will not fill you up and you will be wiser to use these calories eating real food. Whether you are dieting to lose body fat, be healthier or eating to perform better you put yourself in the best place to manage your goals if you are able to track your food intake. What gets measured gets managed after all. Use my previous blog all about calculating your calorie requirements to better understand what to eat every day: https://www.awpthub.com/how-do-i-calculate-my-macros/
As always if you have any questions about anything I have covered in the article above then please don’t hesitate to ask me.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this article.