Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Small Meals Throughout the Day

Tonight I wanted to share some more on calories. As I've said before, in general, women need 1800-2200 calories a day. If you eat less than that, your body will start to store fat, fearing that you might stop feeding it at any time.

I've written that pregnant women need 300 extra calories a day. But that is only true if you are eating within the 1800-2200 calorie range already. If you are eating 3,000 calories a day, you don't need an extra 300. You don't want to cut back, or your body might think you are starving it and somehow lash out to protect itself. You don't want your body on the defense while you're pregnant.

If you are breastfeeding, you need to eat at least 1800 calories a day to produce an adequate milk supply. If you want to lose weight AND breastfeed, aim to lose one pound a week. Now, if you are eating 3,000 calories a day, that means that you need to be careful to cut out and burn through exercise ONLY 500 calories a day. More than that could drastically reduce your milk supply.

If you aren't a mommy yet, aren't pregnant yet, or aren't breastfeeding, you should still aim to eat 1800 calories a day. If you want your weight loss to be lasting, sustainable weight loss, you want to slowly cut calories consumed through food and slowly add in calories burned through exercise.

If you are one of the women who has lost weight in the past by drastically cutting back on the number of calories you eat and need to add calories in to reach the 1800-2200 calorie point, you also need to do it gradually. Otherwise, you will just put on a lot of weight.

So - how do we choose what we are going to eat to get these calories? Well, I have read that you should eat six small meals a day. The article on stress and weight gain from the previous post suggested five. For the six small meals a day plan, you need to eat six 300 calorie meals at regular intervals throughout your day. Or maybe you want to eat three 400 calorie meals and three 200 calorie snacks. Whatever your preference, find what balance works with your weight, your needs, your levels of hunger throughout the day, etc. THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD HURRY OUT AND START EATING 1800 CALORIES STARTING TOMORROW. Again, gradually cut back and work into it. If you eat around 3000 calories a day (the average in 2003 was 3770 for most Americans), you want to just start cutting 500 calories a day, aiming for 1 pound a week weight loss. Then see how your body handles that and cut back a few more.

To help in this process, we are going to add a new sidebar item: A sample menu for six meals a day. Dinner will be up to you, since dinner is usually something you eat with your family. BUT, since we're giving you great recipe ideas, dinner shouldn't be a problem; and cooking dinner means leftovers for lunches or other small meals throughout the day.

As a general rule, each of our six meals will include a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. We'll also try to throw some guiltless snacks in there and some dessert options -- but remember, you have your FREE DAY, so whatever you decide to throw in or leave out from our menus, you're bound to LOVE what you eat all week long and get a little bit of EVERYTHING YOU WANT!!!!


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