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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts

Eat Smart, Part 4

Posted: June 08, 2006

So how much is too much? Protein? Carbs? Fat? There are so many diets, you might as well have one more to chew on. Actually, the best diet is no diet—it’s eating right. Balanced meals in the right amount.

First of all, it’s a good idea for you to count calories for awhile. You need to know what the real energy value, and energy cost of food is.

After you eat something, and then get on the treadmill to try to burn it off, you’ll be amazed at how long and how hard you have to work to get rid of just 300-400 calories. That’ll make you think twice before putting those _________________ (fill in the blank) in your mouth next time.

It’s also a real help if you know the approximate values of foods, so you can keep your meal portions about the right size. This will go a long way toward helping you lose weight, if that’s your goal.

Medium size women need around 400 calorie meals for breakfast, lunch and supper, and 2-3 snacks around 150 calories. Men need around 500-600 calorie meals, and 300 calorie snacks to lose weight.

So for meals, if your protein serving (fish, chicken, lean beef) is about the size of your palm, it will be about 3-4 oz for women, and 5-6 oz for men. That’s around 200 calories for women and 300 calories for men. Sorry guys, you’re just not going to lose weight eating that 16 oz Big Daddy Porterhouse special!

Your starch should be about 100 calories for women. Examples would be half a baked sweet potato, or half a cup of baked beans or whole grain pasta. Men can have a little more.

That leaves about 100 calories for fruits & greens. A great example is a medium mixed salad with all kinds of different greens: Iceberg lettuce, spinach lettuce, carrots, cucumber, onions, red pepper, green pepper, tomatoes, and 2 tbsp low fat dressing.

Once you have a few weeks under your belt, you’ll have a pretty good feel for everything, and it’s much easier to know how much to serve. That’s right—serve it in those amounts! Chow down and then walk away. It’s enough, and if you’re eating all your meals and snacks, you’ll be satisfied.

If you’re eating balanced meals (Protein, Starch, Fruits & Greens), and taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, you don’t really need to count anything, other than hitting your daily target.

For me (active, 44 years old, 185 lbs & around 10% body fat), if I stay at 2400 calories a day, I’ll cut some fat. If I stay around 3000 calories, I’ll maintain. That’s good to know. So, how much do you need? Have you thought about it?