Four Ways to Keep Calories in Check
Just this week, I got a question from B.M, a member of the TD Fitness Family. As an airline pilot, he travels quite a bit, and you can imagine how difficult it is to maintain a healthy diet when juggling airline food with local dishes from exotic locations. His question is, “How do I keep calories in check with delicious options and a challenging travel schedule?”
Although this situation is somewhat unique, the problem is not. Like most of you, I struggle with calories too. As I thought about the question, four simple approaches for keeping calories in check came to mind:
- Limit them. Most folks cringe at this because it sounds like the traditional “you need to diet” advice. Instead, try to limit portion sizes. One way to do this when eating out is to ask for a carryout tray right after your meal comes. Put a portion of the food in the tray and stick to eating what’s left on the plate. Having a big plate of food in front of you is tempting and it’s almost a psychological requirement to finish it! (I still have scars from my parents telling me to clean my plate.)
- Change them. By this, I mean replace foods with those that are more nutrient-dense vs. calorie-dense. A good example is to replace sausage with turkey (a lean meat). Another example is replacing mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (which is GREAT by the way…my wife just made this dish a few weeks ago). The food replacement strategy is the underlying premise in programs like Weight Watchers where there’s a point value associated with different foods.
- Track them. I was recently given a good piece of leadership advice in my military role. They saying goes, “If you want people to perform, measure their output and performance. If you want people to perform well, compare their performance to others.” Well, the same holds true with calorie tracking. Sometimes all it takes is being conscious about how much you’re consuming by measuring your intake. This reference or comparison from one day to the next can be very beneficial. Compare your results to friends or family as they tracking their calories and you’ll be amazed at your motivation and progress.
- Burn them. You knew this one was coming. If you consume 2500 calories and burn 750, then your net intake is 1750. Simple math, right? So take time to exercise when you can. I know it’s tough, but as little as 10-15 minutes a day makes a difference. My wife and I recently received fitness trackers for Christmas, and it’s been very cool to see how many steps we take each day. Tracking exercise and movement is another way to motivate yourself to burn some calories.
Ultimately, a combination of all of the above strategies is the most beneficial approach to calorie control. Implement a little of each by gradually making small changes. Before you know it, you’ll see results in your waistline.
Thanks for the great question, B.M! Fly safely and thanks for following TD Fitness!