Mini Math Review:
Eating 3500 calories over the needs of your body will result in a gain of one pound of fat.
Similarly, eating 3500 fewer calories than your body uses will result in the loss of a pound of fat.
As an example, 700 calories a week for 5 weeks is 3500 calories. That is 100 calories a day for 5 weeks.
So, 100 extra calories a day is a one-pound gain while consuming 100 calories fewer a day, consistently, will be a one-pound loss at the end of 5 weeks.
With that in mind, progress can be made by relatively painless calorie cutting—just 100 calories a day. Chips and cookies and other processed foods are a great and obvious places to cut.
Here’s a list of 8 “healthy” places to look for those extra calories:
1. Wine: A glass with dinner may have health benefits, but has one glass become 2? Each 5-ounce glass has 120 calories. Is your pour 5 ounces? Restaurants notoriously pour more (unless you go to places like CPK where they give you a choice between 6 and 9 oz. servings).
2. Dried fruit: There is an old saying; “wetter is better”, meaning that the whole fruit is better to have than the dried version. One cup of grapes is about 60 calories and one cup of raisins is almost 500. The truth is the fruit has the same number of calories whether it’s dry or wet, but you are likely to be more satisfied with much fewer of the wetter version.
3. Similarly, juices and smoothies are high in calories and could be cut out if looking to shave off some calories in your day. In one smoothie, there could be a banana, an apple and an orange. You could drink that down in no time, but eating those three fruits in one sitting would take longer and likely be difficult to polish off. The fiber fills you up, the liquid carries the calories.
4. Olive oil: heart healthy, but packed with calories. Portion control is key here. As a reminder, one tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories.
5. Avocados: Again, heart-healthy but calorie rich. One whole avocado (a small-ish one, not one of those giants) has about 300 calories. So portion control is the answer.
6. Nuts and seeds: These are tricky. They can be great snacks because they have fiber and a bit of protein, but it’s the size that matters here. A quarter cup is a serving size, which is about 200 calories (approximately 20 almonds, for example). One cup has 800 calories. That isn’t taking into account roasted varieties—they use oil and have more calories (dry roasted generally does not use oil and has roughly the same calories as raw nuts). Nut butters are nuts with oil. Enough said.
7. Oatmeal/Granola: Steel cut oatmeal can be a great way to start your day, but if you have more than a cup and top it off with some milk, walnuts and dried cranberries, you are talking about a 500-600 calorie breakfast. As a comparison, if you use water to cook an ounce of dry oats and top with fresh blueberries it runs about 160 calories. Granola is scary, calorie-wise. It’s essentially oats with sugar and oil. A dry cup can be anywhere from 400-600 calories.
8. Salad dressings are another great place to check. Creamy, cheesy ones can cost dearly in calories (75 calories a tablespoon. One ounce is about 2 tablespoons.) Light dressings are typically half of that and fat-free dressings can run a third or less per tablespoon.
Small tweaks can move you toward your goal. Staying aware of what you’re eating can mean the difference between gain and loss.