While I’m not a huge proponent for counting calories, it’s certainly a great step to take if you are a newbie to healthy eating. It helps you figure out accurate portion sizing and gives you a rough idea of what you should eat day-to-day. This is especially true if you make sure everything you put in your body is wholesome (meaning not refined and only 1 ingredient) and not try to “cheat” your healthy lifestyle by making chocolate bars and junk “fit” into your allotted daily calories on a regular basis.

In addition, if you’ve noticed that you’ve come to a plateau, it’s also a great idea to reassess just how much you’re eating because, as we know, nutrition is the most important factor in weight loss. Sometimes we think that our healthy salads and oatmeal mason jars are what will lead us to a lean physique but fail to take into account all the extra mix-ins and how those can add up and stall weight loss.

While I would definitely say to reach for a whole avocado over a handful of jelly beans (which actually has more calories than the latter), you need to take the numbers into account when creating your meals. If you look at the nutritional info on some salads, they can reach up to an alarming 600-800 calories – especially after you factor in the dressing.

While counting each and every calorie is the opposite of fun and can become obsessive for some, there are certainly alternative ways to cut the calories in your diet without even realizing it or spending precious time on an app (unless that’s your style).

Below are some methods I use for when I want to lean down, decrease bloating and feel better in my clothing – while staying sane, of course. Half the effort and double the results? You have to try these!

1. Don’t Drink Your Calories.

This is my rule, first and foremost. Don’t reach for fruit juices and definitely don’t opt for soda (even diet), if you want to lean down. These are all chock-full of sugar and calories. Even the calorie-free Diet Coke is filled with artificial sweeteners which will spike your insulin levels and trigger cravings and fat-storage. If you’re really antsing for a carbonated beverage or something with a little more flavor than just water, I prefer freshly pressed juiced with greens and one fruit of your choice (like kale and veggies with apple for added sweetness)  or, my favorite, kombucha. This fermented tea is  like a healthy soda, super low in calories and sugar and adds good bacteria to your gut.

Sidenote: Keep in mind that this means saying no to drinking alcohol!

2. Ditch The Condiments.

Some people swear by condiments to keep them sane, but I think most of them are either high in calories or high in sodium, both of which will make numbers on the scale creep up or give you a feeling of “puffiness”. Your best bet is to season your foods with spices and herbs. For example, before putting your chicken breast in the oven, why not drizzle with lemon and garlic, or maybe dust a generous helping of paprika and cayenne to spice it up? When it comes to oil, make sure you are measuring that out to a serving size, too. Oftentimes, veggie stir frys can pack on the kcals thanks to that overly generous helping of 3 TBSP + of coconut oil. Stick to 1 TBSP of your preferred oil if you must – even when drizzling over salad. In times of need, try drizzling fresh lemon juice instead.

3. Portion Your Meals Using Your Hands.

This is one of the best tricks in the book. Instead of getting your measuring cups out every time you want to make yourself something or fretting about your food at a restaurant, just use your hand for reference. For example, did you know that a 4 oz chicken breast is roughly the size of your palm? Or that a serving size of peanut butter is two thumbs and that pasta’s serving size is your fist? Take a look at infographics like this to get more insight.

4. Stop When You’re Satisfied, Not Full.

A big mistake people make is eating until they’re stuffed and their stomach is virtually distended. This is unnecessary, especially when taking into account the portion sizes of today. It’s best to stop when you feel satisfied and content as this will also help relieve bloating and slash calories as well.

5. Eat A Protein-Rich Breakfast

We’ve already discussed the importance of a properly-balanced breakfast, but we will reiterate it now. Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. If you skip it, you are more likely to snack on junk because you are beyond ravenous before lunch even comes around. Make sure your breakfast is protein rich – as this helps with satiety – and probably the most carb-heavy of the day. A good option would be greek yogurt topped with half a banana, berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds and your choice of nut butter ( I prefer almond). This is rich in protein and healthy fats making this simple meal incredibly filling!

6. Ditch “Addicting Foods”.

For 21 days at least, plan to do a mini “reset”. It’s nothing fancy, but totally try ditching the sugar and the salty junk. Some studies have shown that things like chips and cookies are as addictive as illegal drugs. This means that once you have one cookie, you know how that insane urge to eat the whole row slowly creeps up? It’s not just you, it’s been scientifically proven. By eliminating these foods, you will slowly eliminate your cravings for them as well as eliminating the empty calories you consume from them as well.

7. Fill Up On Greens First and Foremost.

I make sure to get my greens in at every meal. Leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and (fun fact) this helps your body feel fuller than when you’re eating junk food calories, even if the food is far less dense. At breakfast I will either include veggies in an omelette or make a fresh pressed green juice with spirulina at home, at lunch I will have a salad and dinner is usually a cup full of roasted veggies. This fills me up quickly and efficiently, cutting back on calories from other unnecessary carbohydrate sources like bread or pasta.

8. Indulge Your Cravings.

This may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re craving chocolate a couple times a week, just go for it! However, it’s important to indulge the right way. Don’t use this as an excuse to have a high-calorie dessert everyday, but if you’re craving a piece of dark chocolate (or another healthy dessert alternative), make sure to eat a square or two. If you could just as easily be satisfied by eating an apple, your are hungry and should eat either an apple or something with protein. If an apple will not do and you need something sweet or savory, eat it! Prolonging your craving will only make your cravings intensify. Satisfy your sweet tooth if you must so that a small craving doesn’t become a massive binge – saving calories.

9. Drink Water Throughout The Day

Think you’re hungry? Sometimes your body is simply trying to tell you to drink some water! Oftentimes we reach for snacks in times of thirst, but by reaching for some H20, you may be surprised by just how satisfied you feel. This is why it’s also recommended to have a glass before your meals. You should aim for around 2-3 liters a day depending on your activity levels.

10. Cook At Home.

Finally, my greatest advice is to prepare your meals at home so you know exactly what’s in your food! I was really struggling to lose a couple of pounds, when I realized that the majority of my meals were eaten or odered out. Of course, I always got the healthier options of protein and veggies or “health bowls”, but I wasn’t taking into consideration all the hidden oil, sodium, sugar, etc. that’s typically snuck into these foods. Cooking at home streamlines ingredients which, in turn, streamlines calorie counts and your waist!

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Do you have any tricks to cut calories?




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