Simple advice to reduce calories

You should never have to do without foods you love. Otherwise, you will never stick with any plan to lose weight. If you're like most people, though, a lot of the dishes on your list of favourites are dietary disasters, loaded with fat and calories. An insurmountable problem? Hardly. Here's some advice on finding low calorie options to your favourite foods.

Simple advice to reduce calories

Cut the fat

The biggest solution is to cut the fat. It has more than twice the calories of carbs or protein. It also helps to keep portions small and fill up with plenty of vegetables. Fat gets more credit for taste than it deserves. In many cases, it's texture you want — creamy, meaty, crunchy — not the fat itself. In other cases, fat is mere baggage — an ingredient that happens to come with some foods, such as dairy products and certain cuts of meat, but not others. By paring the worst offenders among your recipes of much of their fat and throwing in a few other key calorie-saving changes, you can still get great taste.

How to make that burger and fries better for you

Stop thinking of good-tasting food as a stumbling block. If you love macaroni and cheese or chicken wings, you don't have to deprive yourself. There are lower-calorie versions that will let you indulge — in moderation, of course — without the guilt. Just use the following culinary "special effects."

  • Substitute leaner meats for fattier ones, such as white-meat poultry for dark, lean ground turkey for ground beef, or pork tenderloins for ribs.
  • Bake or broil instead of frying in oil, which saturates whatever you're cooking, especially if the food is breaded.
  • Remove skin from poultry, trim visible fat from meat and throw out the egg yolks. Why worry about hidden fat when the fat you can see — and remove — does most of the harm?
  • Buy low-fat or sugar-free products. If you haven't recently tried low-fat or fat-free foods — especially cheese — try them again. They've gotten much better. If one brand doesn't taste good to you, try another. And you'll always save calories by replacing whole milk with fat-free or using naturally lower-fat cheeses such as mozzarella instead of higher-fat ones such as cheddar.
  • Mix higher-fat meats, cheeses and other foods with lower-fat versions if you don't want to make wholesale substitutions. Cutting a few calories at every meal will add up to real calorie savings. Cut 3,500 calories and you'll have lost 450 grams (1 pound) of fat.

Going on a diet doesn't mean stopping yourself from eating what you really like. Just make wise substitutions and it will be a lot easier to stay true to your calorie watching.

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