Mini Mikkipedia - Calories count, how not to count your calories and lose weight
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Hey everyone, Mikki here. You're listening to another mini Mikkipedia on a Monday. And this Monday, I thought it could be timely to go over a few strategies that you can put into place to help you cut calories without actually tracking. Now, I actually love tracking and I have gotten into a real habit of it. I find it super simple to do for me. And it was really useful, particularly earlier this year with my
bone break to ensure that I was getting enough and in general when I'm in my heavy running blocks as well. Equally, tracking is a super helpful skill to implement when you're trying to improve body composition and lose weight. But I know it's not for everyone. If you are wanting to try and streamline your diet a little bit and cut back on those calories without necessarily tracking.
Sometimes you can actually just step back and think big picture. What can I do in my diet to help lose weight without actually tracking calories? So I've got like 10 tips here. I've obviously talked a little bit earlier on about how to track food and why it's important to track food and things like that. I believe that episode came out sort of late January. So double check in with that one if you are interested in tracking. But if you're not, then
Here are some simple strategies that you can implement. Now, I'm sure that you'll be familiar with some of these tips, but I just wanted to give you 10 simple strategies that if these were things you were currently, you were doing, but aren't currently, or that you hadn't really thought about before, that you could just put into place. And look, here in New Zealand, we're in the depths of winter, it's very easy to sort of just settle down on the couch and watch Netflix until September.
However, I think it's a much better idea to get a head start on that sort of spring reset by doing it now, or even just putting in these little strategies, and then you might want to do something else a little bit more aggressive come springtime, or however you want to play it. Anyway, let's get on to these strategies. First one, super simple, limit your liquid calories. Now I don't need to tell you that calories coming from fruit juice,
or from soft drinks, obviously provide a lot more energy with a lot less satiety. Like there is a difference between eating 100 calories versus drinking 100 calories. But during winter, like I think it's much easier to sort of forget about these other places where calories can come in with your liquids. For example,
milky coffees, like we tend to have a lot more hot drinks during winter than what we might do in summer and if you are up to like two or three lattes or flat whites a day that can contribute significant calories that you might not even really be thinking about. Similarly juices like green juices or carrot and beetroot juice does bring again some significant calories. I remember being shocked looking at my carrot beetroot juice one day seeing that it had 50 grams of actual
though there was no fruit juice in the actual product. So these are things that we don't often think about. And a really simple strategy might be, and I think I've mentioned this before, is instead of getting a latte or a flat white, switch that to a long black with a splash of milk or a little bit of cream. Be mindful that you just want a little bit of cream and not a ton of it because for every tablespoon of cream is 50 calories, but that can go...
a long way to saving you significant calories over a week, which is where you want to be aiming towards without necessarily feeling like you are depriving yourself or going without. It's super easy to underestimate these, so have a think about these milk based coffees or other types of green juices you might be having to see whether or not you can make changes there. The second tip is opting for low fat varieties.
there is a lot of debate on the nutritional merits of low fat versus full fat food. And that is not going anywhere. And certainly from a heart health perspective, we know that full fat products, dairy products, particularly that doesn't appear to be any negative impact on cardiovascular health and in fact might even be protective. However, for you with your body composition goals, it does come down to calories. And
There is a difference between full fat Greek yogurt and low fat plain yogurt, a significant difference. So look at where you can save calories on these low fat varieties, and it's gonna make a big difference to your overall calorie budget. So swapping out that Greek yogurt for low fat plain yogurt, swapping out or reducing or halving the amount of cheese that you have, so you're having slightly less.
Changing the dressings that you have from say a full fat mayo to maybe having half the amount you might normally have and then adding some apple cider vinegar or something else to thin it out so you've still got some of that flavor but you've got less of those fat calories. People do say that you know full fat foods might be slightly more filling but you can eat a higher volume of low fat foods for the same calorie count and if you're a volume eater then comfortably switching to low
can actually save you calories in the long run, and that's sort of where you wanna get to. Decreasing snacking is the next one, and you will be familiar with why this is, but the idea that frequent small meals boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss, I know you probably know that this is misleading. Now look, I'm not opposed to snacking for everyone, at all actually, but snacking works much better if you know what's going in and therefore you can account for it.
So if you're someone who is tracking calories, then you can plan for a mid afternoon or mid morning snack and know that you're still coming in within that calorie budget, if you've done it appropriately. But if you don't track calories, this does then add in an additional eating opportunity that you probably don't really need. Frequent snacking can lead to overeating, particularly because the things we snack on are generally higher carbohydrate options that then
can muck with your blood sugar regulation. Instead, if you focus on having slightly bigger meals that have a decent protein hit, and you guys know that I suggest sort of 30 to 40 grams of protein in any one sitting, that also has good volume coming from vegetables, you'll be far less likely to want to snack, and you'll end up saving calories in the long run.
Snacking as well can be somewhat mindless. So sometimes, and a lot of the times, we snack because we're used to snacking, not because we are actually particularly hungry. So it can be another way to curb this mindless eating and manage your hunger better. The last thing I'll say about that is because we're used to snacking, we snack, and then we go into that next meal not feeling particularly hungry, but we eat it anyway. So that's another way.
how snacking can lead to overeating. So your first thing to do there is, without changing anything else, just drop out those snacks. If necessary, up the protein in your meals to help get you through that period where you would otherwise have food. And I would also add that your body gets used to food at a certain time of day as well. Like you can sort of entrain your circadian rhythm, if you like, or your hormonal response.
by food, it's one of our peripheral circadian clocks are actually entrained by food and exercise. And this just means that if you do feel hungry for the first week or two, it's because your body's typically expecting food and it's not because you need it. So embrace a little bit of hunger and drop out that snack. Now, the fourth thing I wanna bring up is substituting those starches with vegetables. It's not that you can never eat carbs again, but
The way that we eat carbs, particularly in New Zealand, is they seem to be the hero on the plate. It's, you know, when you're having a stir fry, it's a big thing of rice and a small amount of that sauce. Same thing with a pasta meal, or with spaghetti bolognese, that kind of thing. They add significant calories and not a lot else, actually. So to manage satiety while we reduce our calories, instead of just getting rid of half of the start on your plate, swap it out for vegetables
broccoli, cauliflower, other green leafy vegetables, things like this, things which increase the volume on your plate without upping those calories. And this isn't to suggest eliminating carbohydrates entirely unless of course you do have a metabolic health issue that warrants it. But making these substitutions means that you'll end up being satisfied on far less of the starch. And the starch is the thing in the meal which can really
add calories without a lot else. You know, some of those simple swaps would be swede or cauliflower mash instead of potato mash, cauliflower rice instead of rice, you know, it's not quite rice, but you know, using carrots or zucchini noodles as opposed to pasta noodles. You've also got the cognac noodles, which cognac is a sort of vegetable, which is in fact mostly resistant starch and
and that's about it. So you can absolutely use them instead of pasta or rice as well. So there are lots of different things that you can add in instead. And particularly if you're doing a family meal, then you can still have the sort of mainstay of the meal, but it's just swapping out that stuff for these other options on your plate. So it doesn't have to be a different meal. And I know this is something which a lot of people, an objection that a lot of people have with following a weight loss diet.
is that they don't want to be cooking separate meals for the family. Typically there's no need to cook separate meals and if anything the family meal is almost the least of the concerns when it comes to your own diet. Generally speaking it's breakfast and lunch where there's a real difference there. Now the fifth thing I want to mention is be mindful of cooking oils. Now this often isn't mentioned in a lot of food diaries that I talk to people about.
or when people are considering the fat that comes in their food. Oils like olive and coconut and avocado, I mean, they're super healthy oils to use, but they're really calorie dense as well, as all oil is. So each tablespoon of oil adds around or between 100 to 120 calories to your meal. And therefore, if you are used to cooking in a load of olive oil or using it as a dressing on salad or a drizzle on vegetables,
Whilst it is low carb, obviously, it's still contributing significant calories, or it can. And this is often, this I see as a real, as a thing that can make a real difference for some people. So instead, switch to a spray bottle. It's super easy, you use way less, and while of course the vegetables will taste different initially, so not quite as, dare I say, delicious, over time, you just get used to it, right? And you add spices, and you add a bit of salt,
just feels like it's not, you know, it's no big deal and you're not feeling deprived by using that spray oil to coat your vegetables as opposed to using or just drizzling mindlessly from a bottle. Be mindful of those cooking oils and try not to be heavy-handed. And of course, if you don't have a spray bottle, then actually just measure out the amount that you're using so you're aware of what you're doing.
Now, another thing to be mindful of is when you're eating out. Dining out can pose challenges to maintaining a diet that is favorable for fat loss. And obviously I'm not suggesting you stay at home and you're a complete hermit, particularly this time of year, even though it's easier, but you know, you've got to be sociable. There are just this myriad of high calorie options and you're not sure how the food is prepared. So not only is your resolve sort of
tempted when you head into that dining out situation. You may think you're also choosing a healthier option, but actually a lot of the time you don't even know what you're choosing. You don't necessarily need to avoid it, but if it's something you do, not necessarily socially, but just out of convenience, then consider reducing the frequency, looking at the menu online in advance, so you can sort of plan out what it is you want to have.
And also, don't be afraid to change it. Most restaurants are actually really happy if you wanna make some substitutions, things like that. And also when you do eat out, it is a good test of your discipline actually. You know, like if you are thinking, right, I don't wanna, I'm not gonna be having any of those fries or I'm not drinking tonight or something like that. Test your resolve around that stuff when you're in the moment as well. It's very easy to cave. And also,
easy at the time to do it and you sort of go oh whatever I'll just pick up tomorrow and hey look there's nothing wrong with that but if you eat out quite frequently and you're not able to reach body composition goals that you were working on then this may well be the case. And what I would also say if you are someone who tracks your diet then when you do add eat out add on an additional tablespoon of olive oil to whatever it is that you're estimating in those calories.
pretty much most places they're gonna be using more oil than you would otherwise expect them to be. And this isn't about being super rigid about your diet or anything like that, but it's actually just being smart about choices you make and not sacrificing that sort of joy of eating out, if you like. What I would also add is try to avoid the breadbasket, ask for sauces on the side of anything that comes with a sauce.
be it your meat choice or your salad, things like that. Ask for steamed veg if you can and always go for a really good hit of protein as well. Because you'll be starving if you get like just a salad with nothing, but having a meal that's based around pasta or rice will add significant calories that you might not otherwise account for. Another strategy, my seventh strategy for you is to double your protein. Now you might think that you're actually eating enough
but most people could probably still lift their game. And there is actually quite good research, or at least research, to show that eating more protein can lead to body composition improvements. Bill Campbell, who has been on the podcast before, his lab did a study where resistance-trained females increased their calories by 250 in the form of protein. And so ultimately they were eating more calories, and they had a 2% drop in body fat. This was compared to a group who,
who decreased their calories by 300 and had a 1% decrease in body fat, which really to me sort of seems like it's in the bounds of almost chance. You know, like it was a non-significant finding for that control group. So this was in fact a study that compared protein intakes, and the people in the high protein group were eating 2.5 grams per kilogram body weight of protein each day.
whereas the people in the low protein group were having 0.9 grams per kg body weight per day, which is much closer to the recommended dietary intake. Now 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram body weight in a day is not easy. And in fact, I've been setting protein macros for people, not even that high, at about two or sometimes 2.2, and they've seen real challenges in actually meeting those goals. Because a lot of time,
And again, I'm not necessarily saying that you need to count your protein calories or anything like this. This is just an example. But, you know, a lot of the times the protein that we get in our diet also has significant fat in it, actually. So you do have to be mindful of those lean protein choices when you are doing things like doubling your protein intake. Like, I wouldn't suggest you doubled your sirloin steak, for example, at dinner, because that does tend to bring additional fat calories.
Chicken breast at lunch or add in some more egg whites from those egg white part is like if you're having two eggs add half a cup of egg whites or something like that to them. You may want to add in a couple of eggs with your small can of tuna at lunch or you might want to chuck some ham alongside whatever you're having for breakfast. Now yes I'm suggesting that you eat more and it isn't magic that you will then suddenly lose weight because you're
but doubling your protein does do something to your satiety first and foremost. So if you double your protein calories at lunch, that could definitely offset a potential snack that you might be thinking of having mid-afternoon. So there's a real benefit there. The second benefit is that protein does take more calories to digest. So for every 100 calories of protein you eat, you only digest about 75 of those calories because 25% of them are used in the
process of absorbing and digesting that protein. So it's much more sort of metabolically active compared to say carbohydrate or fat. I would suggest however not to add in a protein bar for example, as a new protein source to bump up your protein just because protein bars, yes they contain as a name suggests protein and more protein than say a muesli bar but they still actually come with other added calories and not all of these calories are
acknowledged on that nutrition information panel either. So generally speaking a protein bar might have about 40% of its calories or 30% of its calories coming from protein and the remaining calories come from fat and carbs. So you want to keep it fairly protein focused. So I mentioned egg whites, chicken breast, turkey, ham, things like that. So more whole foods, more you know less processed foods, that's where you want to be getting your protein from.
My eighth tip for you is, so it's winter, we've been eating a lot of winter warming foods, which are fine, except if you are relying on sort of heavy soups that have creams or peas and legumes added, just be mindful that they don't, one, have a lot of protein in them, and two, if they're cream based, they're gonna add significant calories, but not provide a whole heparcetiety after the fact. Of course, at the time, you feel like you're getting in a good amount of
food, which is great, but they're going to leave you hungrier later. However, having a broth type soup before a meal it will actually satisfy you and provide some winter warming without a ton of those starchy or legume based foods that we typically rely on this year this time of year to be cozy. Another thing you can do is make a big veggie soup but leave out those sort of split peas and lentils and legumes if you want it to be particularly
bit of pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, leek, and use vegetable stock. And you can make a delicious Moroccan-based soup with the right herbs or something like that, which is nice and thick that you can have alongside your meat sauce. And that will really fill you up and be super cozy without a whole heap of the starch that would otherwise come from your winter warming meals. Your roast meals are great as well, and who doesn't love a roast?
Be mindful of how you cook your vegetables in this matter. And even though I know it's delicious, ideally you would cook your veggies away from the meat so they're not also swimming in the fat that comes from the meat. So you can be more mindful of what you're eating at that particular meal as well. Consider roasting veggies that aren't just potato and pumpkin and kumara, and instead, what about celery and swede and carrot, zucchini,
Why not vegetables like that, which are low starch veggies, but they still roast up pretty well actually, and it's pretty delicious. So you can get a comforting, warming sort of winter meal without all that starch that you are, that just sort of weighs you down. A lot of people I talk to complain about the sort of comforting based foods as being responsible for their weight gain, but it doesn't have to be that way. I've got two more tips for you to sort of round out the 10. My next tip is implement a no eating after dinner rule.
That's pretty simple, eh? You just have dinner, brush your teeth, done for the night. Again, you might be used to having something after dinner, so it's more of a habit-breaking exercise than anything else. But brushing your teeth can go a long way to cutting that sort of craving. And then after a couple of weeks, honestly, you won't be thinking about eating after dinner. You'll be done and dusted. And my last tip is go for a 10-minute walk after meals. This will lower your postprandial blood sugar levels.
i.e. post meal blood sugar levels, and it'll give you something to do to allow your food to digest so you don't immediately go for seconds or feel like you need dessert or anything like that, and you burn a few extra calories. Because calories matter, and finding simple solutions to cut calories without necessarily counting them, but also simple solutions to help burn calories will go a long way to helping you
improve body composition first and foremost, but then just become a more metabolically sort of flexible machine in the long run. All right team, so there is just 10 tips for you. Hopefully you found one or two when you might be like, yeah, I could sort of do that. I could do this over the next couple of months, just as I sort of kickstart to my winter wellness program. And then come September when the sun starts, hopefully shining a little bit more often and the temperature rises,
you may be ready to kick off and do something a little bit more serious, but at least you get the ball rolling with some of these things. So if you've got some tips that you employ and that you'd love to share, please don't hesitate just to DM me, send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and threads 2mikkiwilliden. You can find me over on Facebook @mikkiwillidennutrition or head to my website mikkiwilliden.com.
where I actually take the thinking out of it for you and I've got fat loss plans good to go. So you can just download those puppies, do your shopping and get your spring reset totally sorted early. All right guys, have a great week.