I’m not eating much, I’m hungry, and I’m not losing weight.

WOD – Crunch Time

10 Min AMRAP

10 Power Cleans
15 K2E
20 Abmat Situps

I’m not eating much, I’m hungry, and I’m not losing weight.

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably been in that dilemma before. What gives? It’s time to take a look at what you’re eating, rather than how much. You’ll be surprised by how many calories some “small” meals contain. Let’s compare a typical day of meals and see where you are missing out.


Let’s take a look at breakfast:

You go to Starbucks (because they’re everywhere and you just can’t avoid them, no matter what you do), and get a low-fat blueberry muffin. You think you’re doing good because 1) it’s “low-fat”, and 2) it’s blueberry (which you convince yourself counts for a serving of fruit). And you grab a skinny sugar-free latte. Because hey, it’s 1) sugar-free and you remember my yelling about sugar, and 2) it’s fat free, and everyone knows fat is bad (I hope you picked up the sarcasm there). Now, if you’re lucky and there was no line that was a 12 minute detour and cost $4.82. And that’s not a whole lot of bang for your buck. I’d be willing to bet you’re hungry well before your lunch break. And by the way, “low-fat” usually means “high-carb” (they just added more sugar to make it taste better).

Now, let’s take a look at what you could have eaten instead: 1 egg and 1 egg white, 1 oz leftover salmon, 1 cup cooked broccoli, 1/2 cup cooked onions, 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1 peach.

Breakfast Choices
Calories: 510
Fat: 2.5g
Carbs: 99g (1 whole gram of fiber…)
Sugar: 67g
Protein: 13g
Nutrition info courtesy Starbucks Corp.
and Calorie-Count.com
Calories: 290
Fat: 9g
Carbs: 36g (with 10g of fiber!)
Sugar: none added
Protein: 22g
Nutrition info courtesy FitDay.com

You say you don’t have time to cook in the morning? Try this: Have the onions cut up ahead of time (do it while you’re making dinner the night before; hint: chop them small so they cook faster). Put a pan on the stove over medium heat and throw the onions in. Use a little olive oil if you’d like. While they are cooking, grab a bag of Steamfresh broccoli and pop it in the microwave for 5 minutes. Next, scramble the eggs and leftover salmon (if you don’t have any leftovers, just add an extra egg). Measure your fruit (you can use fresh or frozen – as long as there is no sugar added) and put it in a bowl. When there are 2 minutes left for your broccoli to cook, put the eggs in the pan with the onions. When the broccoli is done, pour half the bag in a bowl (and the other half in tupperware – you can use it tomorrow!) and put the eggs on top. You’re done! You probably took longer deciding what to wear.

If you have an automatic coffee maker, you can have your (black) coffee too and everything you just cooked can fit nicely into tupperware so you can take it to-go.

After you get the routine down, it won’t take more than 6 minutes. That’s half the time you’d spend in Starbucks. And it costs less too (I’ll let you do the math). Now, you’ve got a much more balanced meal, with good fats (omega-3’s), carbohydrates with lots of fiber and nutrients (you’ve already met your Vitamin C requirement for the day), and great sources of protein to keep you focused and full until lunch.


Now, moving on to lunch

The office can be a hazardous place. Your co-workers ask you to lunch. They’re going to Subway. You think “hmmm…sandwiches, I guess that won’t ruin my diet too much.” Not wanting to look lame, you go out to lunch with them. Your next great thought is “Hey – I forgot they have wraps! I’ll get one of those – this will be a good, low-carb lunch after all.” You pick the chicken breast wrap because you figure you can’t go wrong with chicken. You get a water, but can’t resist the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at the checkout (but you “saved” carbs by getting a wrap, right?). Again, not a lot of food there. It cost you $6.77 and although they made your sandwich in an impressive sub-5-minute time, you probably ended up taking a 45 minute lunch.

What would be better? Let’s see what 4 ounces of low-sodium deli turkey, a few walnuts/pecans, some raw veggies and a piece of fruit looks like. All can be picked up from the grocery store, ready to eat, in the same time it takes Subway to make your lunch.

Lunch
Calories: 620
Fat: 20g
Carbs: 86g (only 3g fiber)
Protein: 27g
Nutrition info courtesy Subway
Calories: 360
Fat: 10g
Carbs: 41g (with 11g of fiber!)
Sugar: none added
Protein: 32g
Nutrition info courtesy FitDay.com

Much more food on the right, isn’t there? You’ll be munching at your desk for a while, but will still save time by not leaving the office. And you won’t be ravaging the office for snacks later in the day. The cost of the healthier meal rang in at $5.32, and if you bought the veggies pre-cut, it didn’t take you any time to prepare. Now, you’ve knocked out your RDA of Vitamin A, K and most of your B-complex vitamins.


Snack time…

It’s been a long day and you need an afternoon boost. You grab your Pria Bar, and considering it’s only 110 calories, are convinced it’s a good choice. It takes you about 10 seconds to eat, cost $1, and 5 minutes later your stomach has absolutely no recollection that you ate anything at all. The high carbohydrate content will spike your insulin, which will come crashing down by the time you leave work. That will, in turn, land you on the couch when you get home. So, what do you do? Cheese to the rescue! Although I’m normally not a huge proponent of cheese, in this case it leaves the Pria Bar in the dust. Pair some low-fat string cheese with grapes and celery and you’ve got yourself the pick-me-up you were looking for. Although you may spend an extra 50 cents on the healthy snack, you’ll save 75 cents by not hitting up the vending machine. The 30 extra calories are going to go a long way.

Update: Don’t look at that cheese… This is one of the only pictures I could find!!!

Snack
Calories: 110
Fat: 3.5g
Carbs: 18g (only 1g of fiber)
Sugar: 9g
Protein: 11g
Nutrition info courtesy Nestle SA
(yes, the candy bar company…surprised?)
Calories: 140
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 14g (with 4g of fiber!)
Sugar: none added
Protein: 8g
Nutrition info courtesy FitDay.com

Finally….dinner.

Let’s face it – cooking after a long day of work sucks. You’re apt to grab the quickest thing possible to prepare for dinner. Lean Cuisine, here you come! Based on the genius product name, it’s obviously a good choice, right? Not so fast. These frozen dinners are packed with mysterious ingredients and loaded with sodium to keep them from spoiling. The box touts “No Preservatives”, but the ingredient list takes up an entire side of the box. Not only that, the amount of food in those things is measly. I’m pretty sure our cat could scarf down four of them without a problem. Except she wouldn’t, because she’s smarter than that. Healthy Choice’s Sweet & Sour Chicken made it into the Top 10 Junk Foods in Disguise at Mark’s Daily Apple, but, luckily, you picked a more practical “Grilled Chicken Caesar” entree. At 240 calories you seriously need more food than this for dinner. We’re not birds, we’re humans. So we should eat like one. And don’t get me started on the taste. I picked out some chicken and one of the three pieces of broccoli in the meal and it tasted like the last time I threw up doing “Fran”.

But, what can you whip up as easily and quickly as a frozen dinner? Keep your freezer stocked with individually packaged frozen fish – salmon and tilapia are great choices. The only trick here is remembering to transfer one to the fridge in the morning so it’s thawed out for dinner. Cook the fish in a pan with some veggies (try 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, 1 cup celery and 1 cup onions along with some rosemary and thyme) and you’ll be done in no time. This may have taken a little more effort than the frozen mystery meal, but soon you’ll be making dinner in 15 minutes or less. And there’s really no contest as to which one looks (and tastes) better. I swear, there were no camera tricks or editing to make the frozen dinner look so emaciated.

Dinner
Calories: 240
Fat: 7g
Carbs: 25g (only 3g of fiber)
Protein: 18g
Nutrition info courtesy Lean Cuisine
Calories:  330
Fat: 11g
Carbs: 35g (with 6g of fiber!)
Sugar: none added
Protein: 24g
Nutrition info courtesy FitDay.com

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’ll find that eating the on the “good side” will get you about 1100 calories, which is perfect if you are on the Zone at 11 blocks. You may need to adjust to get more blocks or add extra fat. But, it’s just an example. The “bad side” yields about 1500 calories, which is not the reason these food choices are so poor. You’ll find only 8 grams of fiber, yet well over 200 grams of carbs (mostly sugars). This is bordering on suicidal and just asking for all sorts of health problems down the road. The “bad side” also has under 70 grams of protein, will struggle to support your lean muscle. Additionally, eating excess carbs will actually make you hungrier during the day, and you’ll be lured into munching on other high carb foods with no nutritional value. This will likely add at least 500 “empty” calories to your daily intake. Not real great if you’re trying to lose weight.

If you can look at these pictures and honestly say the left side looks better, I would question your sanity. The most common excuse is “I don’t have time to cook”. Adding up all of the cooking in this typical day, you can enjoy all the meals on the right with one weekly trip to the grocery store and less than 30 minutes of effort each day. Not a bad price to pay for great health!