Creating an effective diet is easy. Following it religiously and making it work for you is another story – a more difficult story. Here are some ways on how you can make your diet work according to nutritionists and health professionals.
- Be prudent about portion size. Few people train themselves to distinguish between a three-ounce and a five ounce hamburger patty. Yet the larger one contains about 200 more calories. Just eating one large-size hamburger a day – but counting it as a small one — will make a difference of nearly two pounds of fat a month. A full eight-ounce glass of orange juice, instead of a small juice glass, changes the figure from 55 calories to 110. This hidden surtax on the larger portion can destroy a calorie budget as completely. as an obvious food splurge. So keep your eyes on portion size.
- Count every calorie. That means every calorie. Many people forget to take into account “small snacks,” especially if they are nibbled over a long period instead of gobbled down in one handful. A cupful of cashew nuts, unconsciously devoured while watching a football game, doesn’t seem worth thinking about. Yet it represents 785 calories! (Peanuts? 805 calories for a mere two fistfuls.)
- Cook lean. It’s surprising how much the fattening ability of food changes with different methods of preparing it. A potato contains only about 100 calories, baked or boiled. With salt and pepper, lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce, it still contains 100 calories. But add one tablespoon of butter or margarine and you’ll double the count. French-fry the potato or mash it with butter and cream and you’ve pushed the total to about 250. And with hash-brown potatoes, you’re absorbing 470 calories per cup.
- Stop leaning on protein. Millions of sensible people have been inadvertently misled into thinking that protein contains few calories, or that protein somehow “burns” fat. Actually, protein contains about 120 calories per ounce, the same as carbohydrates. Fats are more costly, about 270 calories an ounce.
The idea that protein burns fat started out as a misunderstanding of an old laboratory experiment; it showed that if a person ate only pure protein (egg white is the only thing that comes close to that), about 30 percent of the energy eaten would be dissipated as heat shortly after the meal. The problem is that if the meal contains any fat or carbohydrates – as all meals do – the “burning” effect is canceled.
- Cut down on sugar. Sugar contains four calories per gram, just like other carbohydrates. It is absorbed by the body fairly rapidly, but this makes no difference in its contribution to weight gain. The average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar per year, the equivalent of 174,600 calories, or 50 pounds of body fat, which has to be burned up somehow if it isn’t going to be accumulated as extra weight.
Finally, balance both sides of your calorie expense account. The final widespread fallacy that stands in the way of successful dieting is the belief that food intake alone determines how much you gain or lose. In fact, like your bank balance, your weight depends on how much you take out as well as how much you put in. It is far more difficult to reduce if the only muscles you ever move are the chewing muscles. It is considerably easier and far more healthful to lose weight by a combination of calorie reduction and exercise than it is by calorie cutting alone.