Six Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Calories Each Day

Oct 2, 2013

It's Wellness Wednesday!

You know you’re supposed to limit your daily calorie intake. But how do you make the most out of those calories to fill you up and provide the nutrients your body needs? Overall, you should focus on calorie-dense foods, where each bite packs a serious calorie punch and keeps you fuller longer. Think veggies, fruits and beans.

These tips could help shave off an unnecessary 100 calories each day (which adds up to 10 pounds per year!).

  1. Eat foods with the lowest calorie density first. Save the most calorically dense foods for last. Studies show that if you start out your meal with a low-calorie-dense vegetable salad or soup, you'll eat fewer total calories for that meal. For example, start dinner with a big veggie salad and then move on to carbs, protein, grains, etc.
  2. Dilute calorically dense foods with calorically light ones. If you know you're going to eat a calorie-dense food (tortilla chips), think about what you can have with it to lower the total calorie density of the snack (or meal). For example, if you add bean dip and salad, each scoop will fill you up faster and longer, so you could end up eating fewer calories than you would have if you just ate chips alone.
  3. Cheat smart. If you're craving something high in calories (and not the best for you), try to pair it with low-calorie-dense foods. If you're craving guacamole, try adding it as a topping on a veggie salad—the total calorie density will be a lot lower than if you piled it on chips.
  4. Know your priorities. Your best food choices are high in water, low in fat and high in fiber. Eat your water! Water-rich foods like fresh fruit are filling but not fattening. Compared to dried fruit, fresh fruit averages only 300 calories per pound, while dried fruits can have up to 1,300 calories per pound.
  5. Don't eat when you're not hungry. Researchers found that if you eat a snack when you're not hungry, that snack provides little satiety (sense of fullness) compared to eating that same snack when you're hungry.
  6. Don't drink your calories. Calories from liquids don't curb your appetite as well as the same number of calories from solid food. Be careful of smoothies that might sound healthy but could contain added sugar.