It's far too easy to tell yourself what not to eat when making changes in your diet. As you begin to make changes in your diet, it is well-known that cutting back on portions will encourage a caloric deficit, thus promoting weight loss. However, with that loss in calories (often, for some people, exceeding a 1000+ caloric deficit per day) comes hunger, irritability, mood swings, frequent drops in blood sugar and a loss in energy. While these characteristic symptoms of "dieting" may not be inviting as your jump start the New Year, it almost seems as if a prerequisite to weight loss is the constant feeling of hunger. I can see it now in an ad "if you are feeling hungry, you are doing something right in your weight loss journey!"
Of course they would never say that in an ad but if you actually tried some of the "diets" out there, or tried to maintain a strenuous training routine on meal replacement bars for breakfast and a 200 calorie cookie for lunch and a "reasonable-sized" dinner, it is inevitable that you are going to feel hungry and lose weight when you are eating only 800-1000 calories a day. If you are ok with feeling hungry and ok with weight loss, I think you will draw the line and NOT be ok with an increase risk of injury with your workouts, performance losses and ultimately de-motivation to train for the sport that you love.
Well, I have news for you. I don't believe that any person wanting to lose or maintain weight should live in a life of hunger. Perhaps you may need to get use to feeling satisfied with less food but the feeling of starvation is not on the menu with your new healthy eating habits. In my opinion, it's all about the foods you eat, not just about the calories. While most dietitians will tell you that a calorie is a calorie, when it comes to weight loss, I believe that that people still need to understand how to eat for fuel rather than just eating to not exceed x-calories on a daily basis. In my opinion, if you can feel satisfied with healthy foods, which are lower in calories than your old eating habits and you prioritize the right foods before and after training, then you will get much more out of your eating and exercise routine. Because I deal with athletes on a daily basis, I take food and exercise much more seriously than just cutting back on calories and exercising more often. Now I am not saying that all dietitians feel this way, but for athletes and exercise enthusiasts, it is important that your diet supports your training routine, in order to promote some type of fitness or performance gains.
Here's how I see it...if you can feel satisfied with your dinner and eat a small evening snack you will hopefully wake up more energized and ready to exercise for an hour on an empty stomach rather than waking up super starving and trying to get through a workout on an empty stomach..or feeling totally bloated when you wake up and putting off the workout all together. Or, if you eat a satisfying snack in the afternoon (rather than trying to cut out your calories between lunch and dinner or only eating a handful of grapes), you are better able to control your dinner portion, you don't feel the need to have a giant evening snack and the next morning, you don't feel sluggish and you are able to feel good with a small pre-training snack to get you through a high intensity workout. These are just examples but hopefully you get the point. If you can find ways to feel satisfied with your meals and snacks you will ultimately eat less at following meals and snacks thus decreasing your total calories for the day. Following your caloric deficit you won't find a decrease in energy because you will support your training routine through healthy and balanced food choices.
Let's see if we can make some changes to your current diet to help you get more out of your training and get more control from the way that you eat. Remember, we are making changes not just eliminating foods. Be slow with your changes so that you can learn what works and doesn't work for your lifestyle and exercise routine. Some changes may need to be modified to meet your caloric needs but hopefully you will learn to recognize what your body needs rather than what you think your body needs. And lastly, give it time. If you have one bad workout or feel hungry one day because you are trying a change for the first time..don't give up! Journal your food choices/quantities as well as your comments in order to find exactly what works for you.
45-60 minutes before a 60-90 minute workout or as a light snack: Instead of a sports bar at 230-250 calories 1-2 Wasa crackers w/ 1/2 tbsp natural PB at 25 calories for each cracker and 50 calories for the Peanut Butter Total: 100 calories
Comforting and sweet snack after a light dinner or healthy afternoon snack when craving sweets: Instead of 1 bowl cereal (a realistic 2 cups cereal and 1 cup skim milk) at around 225-300 calories for the cereal and 80-90 calories for the milk) Total: 315-390 calories
1 package low sugar brown sugar oatmeal + 10 fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries and 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips (all microwaved together w/ water) at 110-130 calories for the oatmeal + 10-12 calories for the berries + 17 calories for the chocolate chips. Total = 137 calories
For lunch on the go Instead of a PB&J sandwich with 2 slices whole grain bread, 2 tbsp PB, 2 tbsp jam at 120 calories per slice of bread, 190-210 calories for the PB and 50-60 calories per tbsp of jelly. Total: 530 calories or instead of Cliff Bar w/ Tall skinny starbucks latte at 240 calories for the cliff bar and 120 calories for the latte. Total = 360 calories
1 Flat out wrap w/ 1 tbsp PB, 3 ounces low fat strawberry yogurt, 1/2 medium banana sliced, 1/4 cup chopped apple, 15 raisins and 1 tbsp walnuts (chopped), 2 tbsp low fat granola and 1 tsp of cinnamon - all rolled up. W/ 1 cup light vanilla or chocolate soy milk All at 90-100 calories for the wrap, 90-100 calories for the PB, 30-45 calories for the yogurt, 30-45 calories for the banana, 15-25 calories for the apple, 23 calories for the raisins, 45-50 calories for the walnuts, 45-50 calories for the granola and 6 calories for the cinnamon. Total = 384 calories. Light soy milk at 1 cup = 80 calories