1. Serve an appropriate portion of meat.
Five to six ounces of meat per day is enough to meet the average adult’s protein needs, but a restaurant steak can weigh as much as 16 ounces! A standard serving of meat is just 3 ounces cooked, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
Follow these tips for perfectly portioned servings of meat:
- Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half to make 2 servings each.
- Cut beef tenderloin filets in half crosswise to create 2 steaks.
- Choose 4-ounce boneless center-cut pork chops.
- Make 4 burger patties using 1 pound lean ground sirloin.
Bonus Tip: Choose lean cuts of meat, like center-cut or loin meats, skinless poultry and fish and seafood for the lowest calorie load.
2. Pile on the vegetables.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we all need to eat more vegetables, and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in filling fiber. Start a meal by filling half your plate with vegetables rather than filling up on carbohydrates and meat. You’ll feel full while consuming significantly less calories.
Bonus Tip: Add flavor to vegetables by using fresh or dried herbs and citrus zest or juice, which don’t add additional calories.
3. Switch to low-fat dairy.
Choose skim or 1% milk as your default, and go for low-fat yogurt, sour cream and cheese. Switch out heavy cream in soups and sauces for low-fat evaporated milk.
Bonus Tip: Instead of using low-fat cheeses (which sometimes don’t melt well and are often less flavorful), you may choose to use more flavorful, full-fat cheese in smaller amounts. For example, a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan or a thin slice of fresh mozzarella may be more satisfying than a larger amount of low-fat cheese.
4. Choose fats wisely.
Instead of using butter to cook meat and vegetables, cook in a nonstick pan coated with cooking spray, or use a minimal amount of oil. Heat the pan first; then add oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat. You’ll use less oil to coat the pan. Instead of frying, try oven frying. Dip meat or vegetables in egg, and coat in panko breadcrumbs. Spray with cooking spray, and bake to cut calories and fat significantly.
Bonus Tip: While all fats (oils and butter included) contain the same amount of calories and total fat per tablespoon, the distribution of fats varies significantly. Choose fats that contain less saturated fat, including canola and olive oil, more often, and fats that contain more saturated fat, like butter, bacon grease and coconut oil, less often for better heart health.
5. Slim down the grains.
Remember to start every meal by filling half your plate with vegetables, which contribute the least calories to your meal. Then fill one-quarter of the plate with grains. A standard serving of cooked rice, pasta or other grains is just 1/2 cup cooked. You can bulk up pasta and other grain dishes by adding sautéed, roasted or fresh chopped vegetables, which add bulk without adding a ton of calories. For breads, note that one serving is just 1 slice of bread, 1/2 English muffin or 1 small (6-inch) tortilla. Try eating sandwiches and burgers open-faced, and choose small tortillas to trim calories.
Bonus Tip: Choose whole grains, like whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats and quinoa, which are higher in fiber to help keep you full longer.
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