Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's for Lunch?

How to achieve a negative calorie deficit for the day without being hungry. That's the topic of today's discussion. Trying to plan meals that are healthy, balance, and will keep me full and give me energy to work out, yet contain about 1400-1500 calories (so that I can burn about 2000 in a day and, if I do that every day, burn an excess 3500 calories a week, which equals one less pound of body fat!)... not an easy task.

I find that if I take the time to plan what I'm going to eat for the day, and log that into FitDay, it helps me stick to my plan and know where I can add or need to drop things from my menu. Here's an example from today:

Breakfast: Smoothie: 1/2 c each plain yogurt & milk; 1 banana; 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (300 cal)
Snack #1: ½ pb&j (1 piece bread; ½ Tbsp b, ½ Tbs low-sugar jam) (160 cal)
Lunch: 1.5 cups homemade vegetable soup w/ ¼ cup diced cooked chicken (125 cal); spinach/red pepper salad with lemon-dill-yogurt dressing (40 cal)
Snack #2: orange (65 cal)
Dinner: 1 medium chicken breast, baked in a foil package with spinach, celery, onions, garlic, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil; ¼ cup (uncooked) brown rice (550 cal)
Dessert: 1 cup no-sugar-added hot chocolate (60 cal)

I used FitDay to come up with the calories in each of these foods. In addition to calories, the program also shows me how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats I am taking in, and what percentage of my total calories comes from each of those categories.

With the meal plan listed above, I see that I have planned about 1290 calories for the day, which is a little under what I’m shooting for. So where could/should I add on? Well, let's look at what I'm eating in different categories. First, I've got lost of veggies included today-- spinach, carrots, celery, tomatoes-- what with the vegetable soup, the salad, and the add-ins to the chicken packet for dinner. I'm getting lots of good vitamins. I also have a banana and an orange, further boosting the vitamins. Fruits and veggies are all-stars; they add lots of goodness with little punch to the pooch (the stomach pooch, that is). So I have a good balance of fruits and veggies.

How about protein? I have 107 g protein, which is about right. I’ve seen recommendations that active adults should have 0.4-0.6 times their weight in protein per day. If you’re actively stressing your muscles and adding weight training to your routine, you may want to bump that up to 0.8. So for me, the 0.6 - 0.8 range is 84 - 112 g protein a day. I'm right there.

I definitely don't want to add any more fat in (and since it's a weekday I steer away from calories from alcohol... save those for a weekend treat). So that leaves me with carbs. I'm trying to shoot for 60-70% of calories coming from carbs, and 20% or less from fat. Nutrition advisors keep pointing towards whole grains, fruits & veggies, and other complex or low-GI carbs-- those that will fill you up and provide slow, long-lasting energy release, as opposed to quick-release carbs (sugars, refined flours, etc) which get digested faster and cause more peaks and crashes for your blood sugar. As long as these types of carbs make up the majority of your carbs for the day, you'll keep your energy up but your blood sugar level, which will help stave off hunger and keep your metabolism slowly cooking along.

As it is, I have about 38% of my calories coming from protein, 49% from carbs, and 13% from fat. Not bad… so that tells me that if I want to add something else in, maybe it would be best to add in some complex carbs (a piece of bread, a toasted pita, or some low-fat croutons in my salad at lunch would work) in order to balance out the ratio.

Whew, that's a lot of work. Do I do this every day? No. But when I'm trying to lose some weight, like I did last spring and like I'm doing now, it seems to be the best way for me to really maintain a high awareness of what I'm eating. And once I do it for a while, it becomes habitual to eat a good balance of good things, and helps Good Carly make informed decisions to overpower the temptations that Bad Carly tries to present (like if somebody comes by with a plate of Lil' Smokies and fudge again...)

No comments: