The truly correct answer is to not worry about calories, but to eat when you are truly "hungry" (rather than have an "appetite", aka "head hunger). Most medical research nowadays have shown that there is no "minimum" number of calories you need to take in. Yes, you want to try to have calories in matching calories expended, but research has shown that the body adapts to what it can take in. Which is how virtually all species work. It's why lions (and our prehistoric ancestors) ate large meals whenever they had a successful kill, and then basically lay around and ate grass and berries and virtually calorie-free food until the next time they were "hungry" and needed to kill something for substantial nutrition. The problem with society today is that where our ancestors would kill a wooly mammoth, eat it, and then pretty much go without eating for an extended period of time, with the help of McDonalds, other fast food, and high-fructose corn syrup (which has plenty of calories and creates supresses hunger by zilch), and the like - your typical human nowadays eats the equivalent of a wooly mammoth at each meal every day.
All that said ... 3 meals forms a pretty good basis, supplemented by between meal "mini-meals", "additional meals", "snacks" is a pretty good idea. Again, don't eat just because it's "time to eat". If you're not hungry, you're actually better not eating. Not being "hungry" is your body's way of telling you it does NOT need food at the moment.
Just as a point of reference of where I'm coming from - I had lap-band surgery 4 years ago. It doesn't affect my digestion or intake of nutrients, it just limits how much I can eat at a single sitting. I walk/jog/run, uphill, on a treadmill for almost 2 hours every day - burning anywhere from 1500-2000 calories alone in that time. Then add in the calories normally burned in the other 22 hours. I probably (mathematically, according to all the guides) burn 4000+ calories a day. I typically eat 1500 calories daily. My weight, after it dropped from 320 to 170ish) has remained basically the same in the 3 years I've been doing this.
So read all the health and food guides posted by the FDA (and here on SP, etc..) with a leery eye. Medical reality, and how adaptable our bodies are, is a whole lot different from what we've been told for years and years.
"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"
"Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels."
My key to success: Follow *most* of the guidelines, *most* of the time.
That is definitely true, some calories make you feel fuller longer for sure. Years ago when I did Weight Watchers the leader pulled out a bag full of grapes and a 1/4 cup of raisins and said "these are the same amount of calories, which would you rather eat if you were trying to feel full". The answer was obvious. Food that has high water content or a lot of fiber makes me feel full longer. I like the fiberful granola bars from trader joes, they make me feel full and are only about 130 calories.
I completely agree with making healthy choices (I at least "try" to do that....although it doesn't always work), but my true belief is "a calorie is a calorie...no matter where it comes from." Now some calories make us feel fuller longer, while other don't. That's something to keep in mind when you make your choice of a snack. But ultimately, it really doesn't matter.
"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand."
- Emily Kimbrough
Fitness Minutes: (45,338) Posts: 434 3/7/12 9:04 A
I too eat a lot of calories in the form of snacks, I have just learned to make healthier choices... fruit, air popped popcorn, a serving of nuts, yogurt with some fruit or maybe a smoothie, something like that.
Losing the weight, one pound at a time.
current weight: 211.0
Fitness Minutes: (5,097) Posts: 35 3/7/12 8:00 A
Thats ok..snacks need to be healthy choices..I have an apple slicer at work..when in the mod for sweet I slice an apple and nibble..I also take in lots of little containers of fruit- strawberries , blue berries..or snap peas, celery & pb2....all yummy!
When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of this we can be sure...either God will provide something solid to stand on or...we will be taught to fly.
current weight: 190.0
Fitness Minutes: (18,074) Posts: 558 3/7/12 5:36 A
Hi! I am no expert but I know what is working well for me. I don't really snack, but I totally changed my definition of a meal and now eat 5 "meals" per day. Before I leave for work, I have a protein shake mixed with water, non-fat plain greek yogurt, spinach, frozen dark cherries and blueberries. Mid morning, I have .5 cup plain oatmeal mixed with cinnamon, and either chopped apple and walnuts or strawberries/blueberries and pumpkin seeds. Lunch is typically a lot of steamed or broiled vegetables with about 4oz of grilled chicken, an entire grapefruit and about 4 strawberries. Mid day snack is salad (spring mix) with raw peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes and about 2 tsp of balsamic viniagrette dressing I make myself. Dinner is usually light - some sort of chicken and vegetables or even maybe a bowl of high protein cereal like Kashi Go Lean (not the crunch). My snacks would be a handful of almonds (about 20) and if I really want to "cheat" I have a VitaLicious chocolate fudge vita cake (only 50 calories) or some fat free sugar free pudding. Sounds like alot of food but I work out 3-4 x per week and have met my weight goal. I had to change the way I think about food - it is nourishment for my body and if I don't eat right over time I definitely feel it. I do not look at any food as taboo - this enables me to eat a small portion of whatever I want on occasion. This way, I don't feel deprived and at this point I actually prefer eating the healthy foods listed above. I hope this doesn't overwhelm you with information. My best advice would be to start slow and make small changes one at a time that you can live with. Once that "change" has become a routine part of your diet, then move on to something else. Keep track of what you are eating with the nutrition tracker on this site. It's amazing - I had no idea what or how much I was eating. I enter my food at the beginning of the day, this way I can see the fat/calories/carbs/protein and make changes if I need to before I have over indulged. Good luck to you!
current weight: 121.0
Fitness Minutes: (5,097) Posts: 35 3/6/12 7:09 P
So I'm seeing a trend in my eating habits. By trying to stay within my caloric intake allotted for the day I find that I'm under eating on my meals and just adding a bunch of snacks to fill that hunger I get. Anyone think that's weird or it's fine as long as I stay within the "limits".
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