Friday, January 20, 2012

Eat More. Lose Weight. No Kidding.

By Whitney Provost
I've always had a hearty appetite. When I sit down to eat, I want a big plate of food that takes some time to get through, not a tiny portion that's gulped down in a bite or two. Unfortunately, big appetites can lead to big thighs. Rather than restrict myself to a life of deprivation, I learned how to eat a lot and still lose weight.
In the past, I'd lose a few pounds by eating 250-calorie "meals" every few hours. But I was never fully satisfied and always a bit hungry. And the stricter the diet, the more likely I was to dive headlong into a binge and derail any progress. There had to be a better way.
By paying attention to my natural hunger and appetite cues, I discovered that I'm happiest eating larger meals fewer times a day. The idea is to select the highest volume of food with the least amount of calories, which basically means lots of vegetables and some fruit. Weight-loss experts have been recommending this for years. In fact, the February 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported that people who eat low-energy-density foods (high volume, low calories) not only lose weight, but are more likely to keep that weight off in the long term.

What the experts don't always tell you is that in order for your meals to be truly satisfying, they should also include some protein and healthy fats. The protein takes longer to digest than vegetables, and fat slows down the rate of digestion, so you'll feel full longer. The result? You'll naturally eat less over time and lose weight without being hungry.

Here are a few simple recipes that I make often to indulge my inner glutton without adding heft to my hips. They're tasty, filling, and very versatile.

Build a better salad

Sure, salads are the best way to fill up on fewer calories. The key is to make them hearty, and not so low in calories that you're starving an hour later.
Fill a large bowl with the greens of your choice. I prefer a combination, like romaine, spinach, and finely chopped kale. The romaine gives a satisfying crunch, while the spinach and kale are excellent sources of nutrition.
Look in your refrigerator and grab all the vegetables you can reach. If you think you don't like raw vegetables, chop them very finely or even grate them on a cheese grater (this works well for things like broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower). Once the veggies are small enough, you won't taste them. Throw them into your bowl.

Add protein, such as 5 ounces of grilled chicken or 1 cup of canned beans that you've rinsed and drained. My favorite beans are red kidney, cannellini, and garbanzo (chickpeas).
Toss in a handful (or about 1/4 cup) of nuts or seeds. I like to roast shelled, raw pumpkin seeds in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they're browned but not burned. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fat and protein, and a little goes a long way.

Make a quick dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or red-wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour half over your salad, toss, and see if that's enough dressing. If not, add the rest.

Chomp on a yummy quinoa salad

Never tried quinoa? It's a rich source of protein that's delicious in salads like this.

Prepare 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions. (This is about 1 cup of cooked quinoa).
Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand. Typical choices are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Just chop into similar-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/4 cup).

Make a dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend. Add more lemon juice if desired for a brighter flavor.

Warm up with "everything but the kitchen sink" soup

Brothy soups take a long time to eat, are perfect when you're craving something warm, and are low in calories when you make them yourself. On weekends, I take whatever vegetables are left in my fridge from the previous week and turn them into a soup that feeds me for days. There's no real recipe here, but this is how it usually goes:

Chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic, and dice a couple of carrots and celery stalks. (It's ok if you don't have all these things, it just helps to make a nice soup base.)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables soften and the onions become translucent.
Pour in 4 cups of broth (any kind) and any dried herbs or seasonings you have in your pantry. I like Italian seasoning, or a combination of chile powder, cayenne, and cumin for a Latin-inspired flavor, enough to equal about a tablespoon total. If you're feeling fancy, toss in a bay leaf (optional). Bring to a simmer.
While the broth is simmering, chop any vegetables you have left in your refrigerator and add them to the pot. Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are a texture you like. I like mine to have a little crunch.

For protein, add some cooked chicken or a can of beans to the pot.
Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning by adding more herbs or some salt. A squirt of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten and intensify the flavor of your soup, too.
Want a thicker soup? Puree it in batches in a blender until it's smooth. Then add your protein or beans. You can divide this into individual servings (my batches usually yield 4–5 portions) and refrigerate or freeze until you're ready to eat.

These are my go-to recipes that allow me to eat a lot, stay full, and lose weight. Once you get the idea, start to experiment with your own recipes until you hit on the flavors that make you happy.

 Thanks for taking a look at my blog, I hope you have found some helpful tips and information here. I am more than happy to answer any of your questions, and help you out any way I can. I offer FREE online fitness and nutrition coaching as a way to help others out and to 'pay it forward'.  Click on Free Coaching to set me up as your online fitness and nutrition coach, and then send me a quick email so we can start getting you on track to meet your goals!

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