300 – 350 Calorie Breakfasts 300 - 350 Calorie Lunches
450 - 500 Calorie Dinners 50-100 Calorie Snacks
Calorie Counting - A Balancing Act
The first step in healthy eating begins with a calorie plan. You need to count your calories, know how many you're eating a day, know how many you should eat in a day, and make yourself no exceptions. However, trying to count calories, make healthy choices, and balance your meals can be a difficult task, particularly for people with a hectic lifestyle. But the extra effort you make for healthy eating will produce great rewards if you do.
Tipping The Scale: Cutting Calories
Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat as many calories as you burn, you will not gain weight. It's purely mathematical. However, if you consume less calories than your body needs; your body will burn stored fat as its fuel source. This creates an energy deficit, and the result is weight loss.
Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. Seems impossible to achieve? Consider this - If you normally consume 2,000 calories a day but cut back to 1,500, that's 3,500 calories less in one week! (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). By consuming 500 less calories each day will equal 1 pound of weight gone each week!
For helpful tips on how to cut calories from your diet, check out the collection of weight loss tips in the links above (or click here).
How many calories should you consume a day?
The next step to creating a healthy eating plan is to determine the number of calories you need per day. But it is different for everyone, depending on gender, age, height, weight, level of activity, and weight loss goals. Online calculators, like the one provided here at Shapefit.com, can help you determine your daily calorie needs. However, for most people, a 1500 calorie eating plan is healthy and safe way to lose those extra calories.
How many calories should you consume each meal?
There isn't a hard-fast rule to determine how many calories you should eat per meal. Schedules and individual eating habits vary. That's why it is important to balance your daily eating habits. It's much like budgeting your finances. You “budget” an amount out for one day, and whatever is left over from one purchase can be used to buy a more expensive item next time. It's kinda like doing shopping with your daily calories! By following a 1500 calorie per day “allowance”, here is what you should aim for:
Breakfast: 300 – 350 calories (menu ideas)
Mid-Morning Snack: 100 calories (menu ideas)
Lunch: 300 - 350 calories (menu ideas)
Mid-Say Snack: 100 calories (menu ideas)
Dinner: 450 - 500 calories (menu ideas)
Late Evening Snack: 50-100 calories (menu ideas)
Water consumption: Half of your body weight in ounces (if you weight 160 pounds, then you need to drink 80 ounces of water a day)
Plan Ahead For Success
Following a low-calorie eating plan isn't difficult if you plan accordingly.
- Create a weekly meal plan, and choose plenty of low-calorie, high fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources (click here for information on how to create a meal plan).
- Read nutrition labels.
- Find out the calories and nutritional value of unpackaged foods from online resources like the Food-O-Meter from WebMD.com
- Get a good set of measuring cups spoons, and a kitchen scale until you get used to estimating your serving sizes.
- Know what a serving size is for healthy portion control (click here for information on serving sizes and portion control).
Too Little Can Be A Bad Thing
While a low calorie eating plan does assist in losing weight, reducing your calories too much can actually be harmful to your body. Your body is designed to protect your energy storage (fat), and if your body doesn't receive enough calories, and your metabolism will kick into survival mode because it thinks you're starving. The result is slower metabolism and less calories burned. In addition, nutritional deficiencies may occur. Consuming approximately 1500 calories is healthy and safe for many people. If you're in doubt, talk with your doctor or dietitian for suggestions. It's great to lose weight but you want to do it in a healthy way!
Just Remember ...
The important thing to remember is to EAT OFTEN (every 2 1/2 -3 hours), in SMALLER portions, and to drink enough water to equal half of your body weight in ounces to fuel your body and keep it running well!