Tips for 'spending' your 1400 calories
Does it matter what I eat as long as I stay under 1400 calories?
Using a food diary is a proven way to lose weight - you can choose the foods that you enjoy but get a better understanding of how those favourite foods fit within a calorie controlled diet. Some dieters choose to fill up on higher fat, higher calorie foods, but just eating less of them, while others base their food choices around lower calorie foods such as salads, fruit and veg.
But which is right - and does it really matter what you eat, as long as you stay within your calorie allowance?
The simple truth
A calorie deficit is a calorie deficit however you look at it - having less calories than you need will eventually lead to weight loss. How you get there, and whether you succeed however may well be affected by what you choose to eat and drink.
Let's look at some of the finer points of why it really does matter what you eat:
- Controlling hunger
Using up half your calorie allowance on a burger and chips at lunchtime is fine once in a while, but remember that you still have the rest of day left. Although you might feel full up straight after your meal, will you be hungry later? Using up less calories with a healthier option could mean feeling fuller for longer... and less temptation to pick later.
- Nutrient density
The wider the range of foods you eat, the better the variety of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fats etc) you'll get. Choosing wholegrain pasta, with a veggie sauce and sprinkled with cheese means you'll be getting fibre, starchy carbs, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fat, protein... the list goes on. Substitute for a high fat, high calorie meal such as fish and chips, and your nutrient density (the amount of nutrients per calorie) is more limited.
- Good digestion
Junk foods tend to be high in fat and calories, and lacking in other important nutrients such as fibre. Keeping a good balance will help to support healthy digestion - important for weight loss, and general wellbeing. Bloating (a common complaint particularly in women) can be exacerbated when digestion isn't running smoothly.
- Sugar highs and lows
Having a lot of sugary foods in your diet can mean fluctuation in blood sugar levels. Hunger and appetite control can be a struggle without a more constant supply of sugar into the body, potentially leading to more intense food cravings. Aiming for starchy carbs such as wholegrain pasta, jacket potatoes and wholegrain pasta is a healthier option.
- A slippery slope...
Skipping meals, and filling up on chocolate, crisps, wine or other treats might seem a good idea (it's less calories right?) but actually this can be the start of falling off the diet wagon. Missing meals can mean you get the munchies, and chances are you'll opt for higher fat, higher calorie foods. The brain is actually programmed to 'survive' and will crave these calorie laden foods to make sure it's getting enough energy.
- Energy boost
Weight loss is much more likely when you combine a calorie controlled diet with an exercise program. Choosing foods that give sustained energy such as starchy carbs and protein rich foods will help you to have the right energy levels to keep up the activity. Sugary foods might give you a quick energy burst, but they won't entice you to the gym after work!
So the answer is, yes it does matter what you choose to eat if you want to lose weight sensibly, stick to your diet plan, keep the weight off and stay as healthy as you can be.
Treats can be part of your diet (and should be!) but along with all the good stuff too within your calorie allowance. Stick with it and you'll soon be seeing the results you want. Good luck!