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This is a book about bargains. We look for bargains in clothing, electronics, food, and travel -- to name just a few. We go to discount price clubs, cut coupons, and wait until things go on sale so that we can get more for less. We want to spend wisely and know that we're getting the most for our money.
What if we were as cost conscious about our calorie consumption as we are about our spending?
Unfortunately, we have a finite number of calories in our bodys' budget, just as we have limited funds in our pocketbooks. So how can we be sure that we're making good use of the foods we consume? The answer: Look for Calorie Bargains. These are foods that are relatively low in calories and high in nutrients, but still taste great and satisfy your strongest temptations. You use these "cheaper" foods to replace others you eat regularly that are more calorically "expensive." But remember, if it doesn't satiate you, a Calorie Bargain can easily turn into a Calorie Rip-off, because you'll end up eating more of it, consuming more calories, and gaining more weight.
You can find your own Calorie Bargains using these three easy steps:
STEP 1: Think of a food that you typically eat each day. It might be a guilty pleasure or simply a high-calorie food you think might be worth replacing -- if you had a good substitute.
Example: The food I eat now that I'm willing to change: Lay's regular potato chips, 150 calories per serving.
The serving size I would eat in a typical sitting (be honest!): three servings, about four handfuls.
Total calories: 150 X 3 = 450 calories.
STEP 2: Now try to think of a substitute for that food. It'sgot to be something you think you might like, and it's got to have fewer calories.
Example: My potential Calorie Bargain: air-popped popcorn, 25 calories per serving. Serving size I would eat in a typical sitting (be honest!): three servings, about four handfuls.
Total calories: 25 X 3 = 75 calories.
You just saved a whopping 375 calories. So if you normally eat chips three times a week, and you replace them with popcorn, you could lose as much as 15 pounds in a year!
STEP 3: Make sure you can live with the food choice you just made, and that you will not overindulge to make up for the fact that you're eating a food that is lower in calories and higher in nutrient density. If you consume more of the Calorie Bargain than you did of the substituted food, you will defeat the purpose.
Learn to Get Good ValueYou have to learn to know a good thing when you see it. Understanding value in food is important, and it's important to think before you eat. Again, remember, Calorie Bargains are only to be used to replace something that you are already eating on a regular basis. A Calorie Bargain should never be added to your existing diet; it is only a replacement for higher fat and higher calorie foods. And if it doesn't satiate you, you'll end up eating more food, consuming more calories, gaining more weight, and losing that Calorie Bargain. So be careful. Experiment, negotiate, and keep track of your failures and successes.Your initial goal should be to reduce your calorie intake by 100 to 200 calories a day for maintenance, and about 250 to 400 calories per day for weight loss. This means you should substitute at least 20 percent of your current diet with Calorie Bargains for weight loss and 10 percent of your current diet for weight maintenance. As you become a skilled detective, however, you'll be able to find even bigger bargains.
Here's one of mine. I used to eat chips, cookies, and ice cream, averaging about 600 calories in an evening. Now I substitute pan popcorn. I don't love air-popped corn, so I started experimenting and found a way to use regular kernels, a skillet, and cooking spray. Put the kernels in a deep pot lightly coated with vegetable cooking spray, cover, and turn on the heat.Make sure to open the lid slightly from time to time to release the steam. Shake the pot during cooking. After a number of burned batches, I was finally able to get it right: 5 cups (popped) equals 150 calories. Calorie savings: about 450.
Celebrity Calorie BargainsI've spent years finding Calorie Bargains for myself and getting tips on others from readers, so I began to wonder what health "celebrities" do to create the Calorie Bargains that help them stay fit. Here are a few notables:Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, lost more than 100 pounds and made healthy living a priority for his administration. Used to eat premium ice cream: 2 cups, 550 calories.Calorie Bargain: Yarnell's Guilt Free "CarbAware" ice cream made with Splenda. "You can't tell the difference between this and regular premium ice cream, which it has replaced in my diet. Yarnell's is amazingly good, and it's what we serve at the governor's mansion. Guests are shocked to find out it's a sugar-free, low-fat, low-carb product." Breakdown: 2 cups, 250 calories.Calorie savings: 300.Bobby Flay, chef/restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality. Used to eat: "When I was younger, I loved eating breakfast sandwiches consisting of fried eggs, bacon, and cheese every morning on my way to work." Breakdown: 440 calories.Calorie Bargain: "Now I prepare healthy smoothies for breakfast or yogurt with fresh fruit." Breakdown: 16-ounce low-calorie smoothie (no sugar), about 150 calories; low-fat yogurt with fruit, 220 calories.Calorie savings: about 250.Denise Austin, fitness expert, author, fitness DVD personality (star of more than forty exercise videos and DVDs). Used to eat: baked potato (100 calories) with 2 tablespoons of sour cream (about 120 calories) and 1 tablespoon butter (60 calories) for a total of 280 calories. Frappuccino and whipped cream at Starbucks, 390 calories.Calorie Bargain: "I've replaced the sour cream and butter with two tablespoons of salsa for thirty calories. And you can make your own coffee treat with a lot less calories. Use ice cubes, a half cup of skim milk (about fifty calories), and a half cup of decaf coffee. Froth it up and blend it."Calorie savings: 150 for the potato extras; 340 for the coffee drink.Copyright © 2007 by Charles Stuart Platkin