Calorie Economics Series

Step 2:  ”Balance Your Caloric Checkbook”

Let’s face it depriving yourself of stuff you’ve loved your entire life, as a method for weight loss and healthier living, is extremely difficult to maintain. In short, DEPRIVATION DIETS DON’T WORK! Cutting out a major nutrient (ie carbs) or an entire food group from your diet may not be the healthiest solution either, since you’ll need to ‘make up’ the calories by increasing other things.  For some, this can worsen existing conditions (i.e., high-fat diets worsen heart disease and protein-rich diets aggravate kidney disease).

Here’s what the medical community has learned : Calories are the Key to Weight Management.  The word management is used purposefully here because it is important that the concept of an ‘ongoing’, perhaps even ever-changing, process is at hand. It requires you to be mindful without it necessarily consuming you.  It requires upkeep and maintenance.  It’s something like your bank account.

Most people don’t have an infinite amount of discretionary funds—there’s a certain amount in the bank.  If you spend more than that amount, YOU PAY, dearly.  But as long as you stay within your limits—your budget—you’re fine.

What would happen if you started to balance your caloric intake, like you balance your bank account?  What if you determined a set total calorie amount and stuck to it (ie, 2200 calories) everyday?

Scenario:   You love German chocolate cake (and you know it’s loaded with calories!).  It’s served at a wedding reception.  You eat some.

[If you ate a small amount of your favorite thing (Calorie Economics 101 Step 1 below), you could make up for it by having a lower calorie, well-balanced vegetable-centric dinner.  In this scenario, you won’t be completely deprived of your favs and you balance your calories out so your goals aren’t forsaken.]

Now, the set total calorie amount would be different for each person, depending on your age, weight goals and current weight, gender and activity level.  For example, you would set your total amount lower if your goal is to lose weight (say 1900 cal).  This should be determined with your doctor or a registered dietician.  Note: this concept is not new!!!  So, how can you make it work for you?  With a little work up front, a firm commitment and the lesson in Calorie Economics 101, this may help you.

1. Develop a Working Knowledge of the caloric content of certain foods.

a. Know the caloric content of your favorite high-calorie indulgence.

b. Know the caloric content of foods typically in your diet.

c. Know the content of low calorie foods that you like and fill you up.

d. www.thecaloriecounter.com is a good place to find estimates.

2. Balance your Caloric Checkbook throughout the day.

a. Set a total calorie ‘budget’ goal (say 2000 calories)- keep in mind that you may need to reduce your calorie intake by about ~500 calories to lose 1 lb/week.  This does not account for daily exercise ?

b. Review Calorie Balance a few times a day- use round numbers that are easy to remember and to do the math.  No need for spreadsheets or journals.  Keep it simple.

c. Use low calorie, filling alternatives (above 1c) when you’re over budget!

3. Stay within your Caloric Budget and Maintain Variety

a. Plan your meals around vegetables and fruit- you need 7-9 servings a day.  Compare this to 15% of your calories from fish, poultry & poultry

b. Use vegetables and fruit to Balance your Caloric Checkbook. This will help you avoid missing key nutrients in your diet.

c. Commit to staying within your set calorie goal.

*Dr. Dave’s mantra: one size does not fit all.   Keep in mind many people have specific dietary requirements.  For example, people with high blood pressure, kidney problems, or diabetes have to use more discretion about the actual food choices as a rule.  Ask your doctor if trying this calorie reduction method is right for you.