May 132015
 

I want to preface this post with sort of a disclaimer. When I was losing 100 pounds I reduced my calories a lot, but never this low. Going from eating 5,000+ calories a day to under 2,000 calories a day is a pretty big jump. It was a drastic change for my lifestyle and my body. But it was a healthy drastic change.

I got used to eating around 2,000 calories a day and for the year and a half that I was losing weight I was striving to eating between 1600-1800 calories a day. Sometimes I ate back the calories I burned in the gym, sometimes I didn’t and created a bigger deficit. I was writing it down by hand in a journal and just adding my calories that way. It worked for me.

Fast forward a few years after maintaining my weight, I started using an iPhone app to track my calories. I maintained the 110 pound weight loss for 6 years. What I was doing was working. Now here comes the disclaimer. I firmly believe that eating 1200 calories a day is the most bottom number you can consume before it becomes dangerous. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist and you should definitely talk to a professional before doing something drastic.

I can’t say I’m excited about reducing my calories so much because of that. I don’t want to screw up my metabolism, or cause secondary issues (like immune problems or injury–which can happen if you don’t eat enough calories). As a result of these potential issues, I’m not going to be doing this super-low calorie diet for an extended period of time. My HOPE is that doing it for a week or two, maybe 3 tops will jump-start my body into losing weight.

The nutritionist I spoke to suggested I experiment with caloric intake–higher calories AND lower calories–and see what helps. Sometimes your body just gets STUCK and you need to wake it back up. Here is the food diary I have for the first week of trying this.
1

Day One

Breakfast: My breakfasts are usually pretty good and I don’t feel the need to change them up too much. What I’m doing has worked for the most part and keeps me full for a long time. Breakfast this day was 2 fried eggs, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, black coffee with creamer, and an EmergenC drink. Calories: 342

Snack: String Cheese, hot mint tea. Calories: 80

Lunch: I wasn’t quite prepared for lunches this week so the first day of the “diet” (i.e. lower calorie days) wasn’t the best. I kind of threw things together at the last minute. Lunch was a Chocolate Whey protein shake, medium sized banana, and sugar snap peas. Calories: 256

Dinner: Michael was famished after biking to work and needed a lot more calories than I did. I ended up having some leftover rice, a veggie burger, and steamed broccoli with Goddess Dressing. Calories: 530

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Dessert: For dessert I had some chocolate pudding. Calories: 180

Total Calories for the day: 1456

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It was a pretty good food day, even being a little higher than 1300.

2

Day Two

This is a gym day and I wanted to eat a little bit more calories on this day in order to work out and not hurt myself.

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, 1 English Muffin toasted with cinnamon and splenda, black coffee with creamer, unsweetened iced tea. Calories: 362

Snack: Apple. Calories: 70

Lunch: I had some Carrot Ginger Soup, snap peas, raw red and orange peppers with a little salad dressing for dipping. Calories: 220

Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with sliced strawberries. Calories: 110

Dinner: I was doing really well and then it was Cinco de Mayo…I got home from the gym and Michael had made guacamole (which I love and have a hard time resisting). Dinner was 4 ounces of grilled flank steak on top of a salad with sauteed peppers and onions. I had some guacamole and chips, and topped it with a little sour cream. Calories: 790

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Total Calories for the day: 1622. A little higher than I wanted to shoot for but still less than what was my old “norm”.

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Calories burned: I did the elliptical at the gym and burned 374 calories.

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3

Day Three

Breakfast: Trader Joe’s oatmeal with some brown sugar and dried coconut, coffee with creamer, unsweetened iced tea. Calories: 308

Snack: Apple. Calories: 70

Lunch: Carrot Ginger Soup and a chocolate protein shake. Calories: 240

Snack: Trader Joe’s Cottage cheese. Calories: 90

Dinner: Salad with raw yellow and orange peppers, carrots, 5 ounces of baked chicken breast, Gorgonzola cheese and Buffalo Sauce. Calories: 433

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Dessert: Plain Greek yogurt with sliced strawberries, chocolate chips and dried coconut flakes. Calories: 182

WED3

Total Calories for the day: 1424

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Calories burned: 604

day-4

Day Four

This day was not my best day. I did well until I got home from swimming. I was so freaking hungry I ended up snacking on some tortilla chips while I was cooking dinner. I ended up going over my calories for the day. I’m disappointed but I’m trying not to let it derail me.

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, cottage cheese, coffee with creamer and plain iced tea. Calories: 342

Snack: Apple. Calories: 80

Lunch: Carrot Ginger Soup, sugar snap peas and a string cheese. Calories: 231

Snack: Plain Greek yogurt, sliced strawberries, dried coconut flakes.  Calories: 135

Dinner: Spicy bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut, couscous and steamed broccoli with Goddess Dressing. Calories: 730

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Calories burned: Went swimming and burned around 300 calories.

Dessert: Fun sized peanut butter snickers. Calories: 130

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Total Calories for the day: 1725. Too many! Went over my calories today. :(

Day-5

Day Five

Breakfast: English muffin with cinnamon and a little splenda, cantaloupe, half a serving of cottage cheese and coffee with creamer. Calories: 300

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Lunch: Steamed broccoli with Goddess dressing, leftover couscous, and Trader Joe’s Chicken Shui Mai. Calories: 388

This day is incomplete because I didn’t track my calories for dinner. It was Mother’s Day.

Calories burned: Went for a run and burned 443 calories. Then did yard work and burned a little over 200. 645 calories. 

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day-6

Day Six

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, English muffin with cinnamon and splenda, unsweetened iced tea, coffee with creamer. Calories: 338

Snack: Cantaloupe.  Calories: 56

Lunch: Salad with dressing and two slices of turkey deli meat, celery and baby carrots with guacamole. Calories: 249

Dinner: Couscous, spicy bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut, steamed and sauteed Brussels sprouts. Calories: 600

Dessert: strawberries and some chocolate. Calories: 120

Total Calories for the day: 1472

Calories burned: Around 80

The verdict: This first week I lost 1 pound! Stay tuned for next week!

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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.

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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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