Dec 242014
 

DTS

One of the issues I’ve been having with “dieting” lately is feeling deprived. I don’t mean the “I’m denying myself food” kind of deprived. More of the, I’m not eating smart and it’s leaving me feeling unsatisfied and hungry. I wrote about this a little while ago and talked about eating more protein and healthy fats. While I do that most of the time, I find that Monday-Friday I pack my food with calories in mind. I have breakfast at home, then bring a morning snack to work (usually fruit) then I have a low calorie lunch and if it’s a gym day I have an afternoon snack.

This has left me feeling low-energy, cranky, irritable, moody AND HUNGRY. I think Michael got sick of hearing me complain about being hungry all the time so he asked me if I’d be willing to try eating “his diet” for awhile. I said maybe. I feel pretty stuck in my ways, honestly. Eating low calorie foods. I’ve gone back to eating soup or Lean Cuisine type lunches at work that never really stick with me too long. BUT they were portion controlled and I knew how many calories I was eating. Besides, it worked for me 8 years ago, right?!? So why isn’t it working now?

Probably because I’m used to eating more. After I reached goal weight and spent 6.5 years in maintenance mode, I was used to eating a little bit more. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, really. Maybe lose that fluctuation I saw but it was never more than 5 pounds.

Also, my activity level is way different NOW than it was 8 years ago when I first started working out AND of course doing 30 minutes of swimming was going to shock my body into losing a lot of weight because it wasn’t used to activity like that. Now? After 8 years of having a fairly intense workout regiment, my body is used to this. So losing is harder.

It’s not that I was unwilling to give Michael’s ideas a try, it’s really just that I can’t let go of the calorie counting. IT WORKED. For a long time. It’s easy, I know how to do it. It’s become a habit that is part of my normal every day routine. He was asking me to ignore counting calories for awhile while I just focused on eating a high protein, healthy diet of whole foods.

Sounds good in theory right?! But ignoring calories is how I gained 15 pounds on my honeymoon. That and the daily pina coladas and Bloody Mary’s… ;)

Anyways, I decided to give it a try. I was definitely in a food rut so it couldn’t hurt, right? Plus I was tired of feeling tired, hungry, cranky and unsatisfied during the week from a too-low calorie intake. (Which would inevitably lead to me eating crap at work.)

1XMAS

Breakfasts

I picked up some ground chicken at the store. It came in a tube, like the breakfast sausages (think Jimmy Dean sausage). It was made of chicken thigh and breast meat and didn’t have a bunch of weird ingredients in it. I cooked it up in a skillet with grapeseed oil and some chopped onions. It cooked up exactly like lean ground turkey meat. The color, consistency and taste was pretty close to turkey, too.

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The package of ground chicken had 4 servings in it, each serving 140 calories. I was getting a little more like 5 or 5.5 servings out of what I cooked up. I added some of the ground chicken to two scrambled eggs and topped it with hot sauce. It was a low calorie, high protein and VERY filling breakfast.

CALORIES: 365 total (that number includes my cup of coffee with creamer in it).

Lunches

So during the week I had two different kinds of lunches: the gym days and non-gym days. Non-gym days didn’t have carbs. An example of a lunch for non-gym days was lettuce with low-calorie dressing and a fillet of blackened salmon. (Salmon blackening below, the ground chicken for breakfasts on the right.)

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CALORIES: Around 400 calories (for the salad, salmon and dressing).

Gym days: Michael made me this crazy delicious salad for gym days. It was quinoa, chickpeas, kale, carrots and chicken with pesto. Having carbs on gym days was required. This was the second week of food prep:

diet
Carrots, blanched kale, chopped red cabbage, chopped pickled beets. The quinoa was cooking, the chicken was baking. The second week Michael skipped the chickpeas and added raw spinach to the salad and I added some raw peppers. It’s a delicious salad!

Dinners

This hasn’t changed much. A protein and a vegetable.

One dinner Michael made was a burger with a piece of bacon on top of a bed of lettuce with a fried egg on top, topped with some hot sauce. Talk about protein! It was absolutely delicious and filling, despite lacking any carbs.

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Snacks

I was still sticking with the fruit for snacks at work. Pre-gym snacks were either pre-packaged servings of hummus from Costco (they are 150 calories) with veggies or plain Greek yogurt with some fruit in it.

Desserts

This is where I fall short. The sugar. I am trying REALLY hard not to indulge in candy at work and trying to skip the desserts at home. Protein shakes are dessert on gym days. This is also beneficial for days I lift weights. :)

Will it Work?

I’m on week 2 of this diet, with a few slip-ups due to the holidays and parties. I am trying not to beat myself up over that because for most of the week I was doing well and sticking with it. I was also limiting my sugar successfully! That’s a huge thing for me. Right now I am just trying to get through the next two weeks of holiday foods and festivities and hopefully I’ll start to see some real progress in January.

Anyways, I wanted to share some of the foods I’ve been eating lately because it’s been really delicious and satisfying. So much more so than frozen meals…

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Nov 112014
 

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

veggie-protein

A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

eggs

Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

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The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?

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