My grandmother use to say ‘save your pennies and build a pound’, in other words, you do not have to make big changes to cut calories. If you are to follow a few rules, you can cut a cartload of calories from just your meals.
Losing weight is not only science but also an art. If you put in the work, use the right tools and quality ingredients, you reap the rewards.
Count your Calories
I hate counting calories and feel like a hypocrite telling you this. However, during the first few months of my weight loss journey, this is exactly what I did. Studies show that those who count calories tend to be more careful with what they eat, i.e. should I have an apple with 80 calories or a small biscuit with 105 calories. Technology has made calorie counting quicker and much easier than ever before. My favourite app: ‘MyFitnessPal’. Don’t own a smartphone, well then do it the old fashion way, simply keep a food journal and write everything down.
Get Some New Kitchenware
Always wanted that shiny non-stick frying pan, well now is the time to get one. You see using a quality pan, pot or wok can help in cutting back on the amount of fat and oil that is used to whip up a meal. I recently splashed out on an ultra non-stick frying pan, which has no trouble frying an egg without oil, that’s right people, no oil.
Spray On your Oil
You can save over 100 calories by simply using a spray. My favourite ‘Frylight Olive Oil Spray’. This way there is less oil on your pan and on your plate.
Boost your Tastebuds with Herbs and Spices
Stop using all those bottled sauces, ketchup and mayonnaise and start cooking more with ingredients such as onions, garlic and the wide array of herbs and spices such as turmeric, basil, chilli… and give your food an infusion of flavours, at the same time boosting your metabolism.
Start using your oven more. Did you know you could reduce the amount of oil or fat used by simply wrapping your chicken or fish in aluminium foil and popping it in your oven? Additionally, it also helps boost natural flavour and makes the meat more tender.
Start Weighing and Measuring More
Before starting my weight loss journey, I went out and bought a kitchen weighing scale and some measuring cups and spoons. Measuring your food helps in learning about the correct serving sizes. Even I was surprised when I first weighed what I thought was 100g of chicken breast, only to find out it was over 200g. This simple mistake can derail all your hard work.
Go Natural and Whole
Eating whole and natural food is the best when it comes to calories. You see the more whole and natural your food is the more satiated you are, i.e. Apple Juice compared to an Apple. Eating a whole apple is more filling, contains more nutrients and has fewer calories. Additionally, as it is 100% natural, it does not contain all those added sugar and additives.
Go Mad with Veg
When I say go mad, I mean go mad, pile your plate with as much veg as you like, such as broccoli, cucumber, celery, bok choy, spinach, tomatoes or even a zucchini. All these contain very few calories, for example, 100g of cucumbers are only 16 calories, wow that’s low! Next time you have your meal, why don’t you fill half your plate with vegetables, this will keep you satiated and is an excellent way to increase vegetable intake whilst cutting back on calories.
Soak it Up
Fried food tastes amazing, we all know that. If you cannot resist having a fry up every now and then, then next time why don’t you place everything you fry on a sheet of paper towel. This way all that extra oil and fat is soaked up, leaving less calories that may end up on your hips or mid section.
Now I don’t mean, run around naked, although it has been proven to be beneficial in colder climates. What I mean is remove the skin from your chicken, duck or even turkey. By doing so, you can save a lot of calories and fat, i.e. a skinless roasted chicken breast has around 143 calories and the same with skin contains 193 calories. That is 50 extra calories that you could be saving.
Start with Water
This zero calorie wonder is an amazing ingredient that everyone forgets about. I have made a curry without using any oil whatsoever. Next time why don’t you start your dish with a bit off water and add all your ingredients gradually, you don’t have to fry your chicken first, just chuck it into a pot with all the other ingredients and let it simmer. Alternatively, you can even drink a glass or two of water whilst cooking, as it could help in keeping you feeling more satiated, causing you to eat fewer calories at your meal. One study found that drinking around 500 ml of water before a meal helped lower food intake, in turn lowering the amount of calories you consume. Water is also good for flushing out toxins and keeping your body well metabolised.
I am someone who loves experimenting, with food, clothes and even my workouts. My motto is ‘if you haven’t tried it, you wont know if it’s great’. So next time you head to the kitchen to make a meal, why don’t you reduce some calories by using half the recommended fat or sugar the recipe calls for, or even try substituting these ingredients for more healthier options. If you are an avid fryer and love frying just about everything you eat, why don’t you experiment with a new method of cooking such as grilling, steam frying, boiling or poaching. Also, you can adapt meals by simply eliminating any additional ingredients, for example, removing the top slice of bread from your sandwich, or stringing some cucumbers to pose as noodles. Just give it a go, if you don’t like it, try something else. As they say no harm in trying.
Love Baking, Use Paper
I love sweets and chocolate and doughnuts and macaroons and… you get the point. Ever since starting this weight loss journey, I have tried to find ways of making my favourite treats healthier, for example, swapping sugar for agave nectar (which is far sweeter than sugar, meaning you don’t need much to add sweetness), replacing cream with low fat yogurt or even going the extra mile of using parchment paper instead of lining the baking tin with butter or oil.
Slow it Right Down
Never rush to complete any task, whether it be eating, exercising or even working. When you take time to complete a task, you ensure that each step is completed to the upmost of your ability; for example, chewing your food slowly not only allows you to savour the moment, but can also help in making you feel fuller more quickly, in turn helping you eat less. If you are one of those who eat in a rush, why don’t you try putting your knife and fork down between each mouthful or counting the amount of times you chew your food. Keep in mind, eating too quickly can also cause bloating.
Say No to Drinking your Calories
Many people tend to forget about the hidden calories in drinks. Drinks such as fruit juice, a can of coke or even your favourite almond milk is jammed packed with calories. Did you know a can of coke contains over 139 calories and over 35g of sugar? Drinking all these sugary drinks is only adding unnecessary calories to your diet and worse of all, consuming sugar causes insulin spikes, where once the spikes return to normal levels, will leave you feeling hungrier than when you started. If you cannot live without soft drinks or your favourite almond milk, next time you go shopping, opt for the zero calories or unsweetened versions of your product, but do make sure to check the other ingredients.
Join the Dark-Side
When I say join the dark-side, I don’t mean go rob a bank, although it does burn calories with all the running about and anxiousness… what I mean is keep your coffee and tea black, or use darker oils such as pumpkin seed oil, which is more rich in terms of flavour, meaning you only need a pinch compared to the dollop of vegetable oil.
Don’t Go Nuts
Nuts are amazing; they taste great, have heart-healthy fats and are a good snack. However, nuts are also high in calories, a 30g serving of peanuts has a whopping 176 calories. 30g can be roughly a handful, depending on the size of your hand, so if you are to enjoy three handfuls whilst watching your favourite movie, that is a mind bending 528 calories. Next time you reach for the nuts, think twice.
Satisfy your Gut, Not your Heart
Many when preparing a meal will tend to go for easy options that they know tastes amazing or that they love dearly. If you want to eat fewer calories and feel full, you need to be extra vigilant with your food choices. Try to opt for foods rich in protein and fibre, which are both known to help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Also, opt for more bulky or chunky foods. Incorporate protein and fibre into every meal and keep yourself full.
There you go, a few of my calorie saving tips that you can incorporate into your daily lives. If you have any other great tips, why don’t you share it in the comments section below?