In Person: A “Flat belly day” from Women’s Health Magazine
Editor’s Note: You there. Stop laughing. No ovaries are required to give this a shot. The two participants in this 1500 calorie day were Joe (his reactions are noted) and Sarah, who’s one half of the Full Clutch team. Disclaimer: Talk to your doctor before changing your diet and/or exercise program.
In case you slept through Health Class, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the calorie as such:
a) a unit equivalent to the large calorie expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized in the body. b) an amount of food having an energy-producing value of one large calorie
That large calorie is “the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius”. A lot of us aren’t really considering science when we put food into our mouths. We’re hungry, we eat. But calories can be sneaky little bastards, too many and your body’s nifty back up system sends those guys to the liver which converts them into fat. Great if we were still hunters and gatherers, but not so great for the lifestyle so many human beings lead now-a-days. Not only do the processed foods we’ve come to rely on usually have a higher calorie count, even if they don’t, the artificial ingredients and preservatives work against our bodies. This can slow down metabolism, which slows down our energy burning process, which leads to extra calories in our bodies that, you guessed it, will be turned to fat by our livers.
If you’re an avid calorie counter, good for you. It can be really educational to use a tool like My Fitness Pal, even if for a short amount of time, to really get a feel for what your daily diet should look like. But some of us just aren’t into the calorie counting thing. How to cut some of those calories out? An easy way is to have a pre-planned lower calorie day at least once a week. 1,500 calories seems to be the standard for a low-cal day. And including a low-cal day in your week can have additional benefits; more vitamins and nutrients in your food that day (veggies and whole foods are utilized quite a bit), higher fiber intake, and a break for your digestive system from the crap (no, the other crap) that might all too often get processed through it.
Team Dappered decided to challenge ourselves to a 1,500 calorie day to discover if the menu we chose would be tasty and filling enough to satisfy. Truth be told, it was a little challenging, but definitely doable. Here’s the lowdown on our menu, sampled from the November 2012 issue of Women’s Health Magazine (no snickering, these menus apply to both sexes, but if you are male and considering loosing weight, incorporate more protein into a lower calorie meal plan if you plan to do it daily). Joe’s thought’s on each dish follow the recipe (no comments on snacks, but they were both delicious, Joe’s afternoon snack especially).
Tofu Scramble: Sauté 4 oz crumbled soft tofu, 1/2 chopped red bell pepper, 2/3 cup chopped baby portobello mushrooms, and 1 cup chopped spinach in pan with 1 tsp. olive oil until cooked (5-7 minutes). Serve one top of 100 calorie sandwich thin or whole grain slice of toast. Sprinkle with 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella and 1/2 tsp. oregano. Total calories: 328.
Joe’s Take: Looked and felt bigger than my normal breakfast. Lot’s of flavors, but none overpowering. The oregano and mozzarella gave it a breakfast pizza feel. B+
1 large sliced apple, 2 tsp. almond butter with 3/4 tsp. cinnamon sprinkled on top. Total calories: 187.
Autumn Pumpkin mix: Toss 3/4 cup brussels sprouts and 1 cup cubed pumpkin or butternut squash with 2 tsp. olive oil, then roast at 350° for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and toss with 1 oz crumbled goat cheese, 2 Tbsp. pistachios, 1/2 sliced medium pair, 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and 2 tsp. yellow mustard. Total calories: 387.
Joe’s Take: Strong flavors, not much mass. But 2 glasses of water made up for that. Pistachios helped immensely. Very good. A-
Toss 2 cups cauliflower florets, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan, together and roast under a broiler for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Total calories: 238. *Due to this 1,500 calorie day challenge falling on a Sunday (football was on), Joe chose to drink his 238 calories in the form of beer.
Chicken with Cheesy Broccoli Soup: Steam 1 cup chopped broccoli and 1 cup chopped parsnips, then puree with 3/4 cup nonfat chicken stock and 1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sliced almonds. Bake 4 oz. chicken breast, top with 1 tsp. lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Total calories: 360.
Joe’s Take: Good, but too light. This was the one that tasted like calories were being cut. C-
Full honesty, it was tough cutting those calories down. But, doing this twice week can cut 1,000+ if you normally consume 2,000 calories or more a day. Try and track your calories for a week, just to get an idea of what you’re averaging, then figure out what you could be saving weekly, even by doing this for one day. Just don’t let this lighter day give you the excuse to overindulge the day before or after (keep it normal on those days). If you feel like 1,500 is too low, find a protein shake that has at least 15 grams of protein, 5 or more grams of fiber, and under 150 calories to supplement the day.
Thoughts from you guys? Would you ever let your significant other talk to you into this? Leave it in the comments.