You’ll find them in 99.99% of everything you eat and drink. They can be your greatest friends or your worst enemies. Eat fewer than you need and you lose weight. Eat more than you need and you gain weight. Yes, it is that simple.
Since calories affect everyone everyday, it’s important to understand them: what they are, what they do, and how to make them work for you instead of against you.
Some basic facts about calories:
They represent the amount of energy in the foods you eat and drink.
They are not partial to certain types of foods. A calorie from a carrot is the same as a calorie from a doughnut (although the carrot calorie is much healthier, of course!).
Different types of foods are automatically higher in calories. Take 1 gram each of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. The grams of protein and carbohydrate each contain 4 calories, while the gram of fat has 9. Yes, that’s more than double the calories gram per gram. Yikes!
One pound of fat = 3500 calories.
So how do you get calories on your side in your weight loss battle? First of all you need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs every day just to function properly—to breathe, circulate blood, adjust hormone levels, digest food, grow and repair cells, and so on. While there are several formulas to figure out your BMR, here’s an easy one:
Current body weight x 12 = BMR
150 pounds x 12 = 1,800 calories (BMR)
Simply put, if you eat more than your daily BMR, your body stores those extra calories as fat and you gain weight. If you stay below your BMR, you create a calorie deficit and you lose weight. One caution: women should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never go below 1,500. Consuming too few calories sends your body into a protective starvation mode and slows down your metabolism, and a slow metabolism doesn’t burn calories as fast and can cause other problems as well.
There are three basic ways to create a calorie deficit:
Eat fewer calories than your BMR.
Exercise, because it burns calories and builds muscle, and bigger muscles burn even more calories!
A combination of #1 and #2—the best option by far.
Here’s how this works:
If you create a daily 500-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 1 pound a week.
If you create a daily 1,000-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 2 pounds a week (remember that cutting too many calories from your diet is not good).
I know, I hear you: “But Heidi, I don’t like to count calories.” You’re not alone. Counting calories is so not fun. However, it’s really important to know what you’re taking into your body every time you open your mouth. Studies show that most people think they’ve eaten 20% fewer calories than they actually have, so trying to estimate your calorie intake is a recipe for disaster.
Until you have an opportunity to weigh and measure your food to figure what your “correct” portions look like, this simple graphic shows a safe and easy way to choose appropriate portion sizes without measuring cups or a scale. This should also help keep you from creating a calorie surplus:
Some final words of advice:
It’s important to recalculate your BMR as you lose weight.
Some calorie tracking apps add the calories you burn from exercise into your daily to-eat total, making it look like you can eat more than you actually can, and if you do eat all those calories, you won’t have a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Instead, eat the number of calories in your daily eating plan, and subtract the calories you burned to see your deficit. Remember: one pound of fat = 3500 calories, so work to eventually create a 3500 calorie deficit.
You can eat calories much faster than you can burn them, so don’t use those exercise-burned calories as permission to eat more food—“I burned 500 calories this morning, so I can eat this cupcake.” So not a good way to do it!
To learn more about our preferred and proven eating and exercise plan—Carb Cycling—check out Chris’s book, Choose More, Lose More for Life. And when you sign up for his FREE semiweekly enewsletter at chrispowell.com you’ll get a FREE printable handy food guide to help you win the calorie battle and reach your weight loss goals!
Thre is nothing more special that getting a handmade card from one of your children. Our nanny helped Cash make the cutest picture for us for Valentine’s Day featuring a big bouquet of flowers on the front. It was so adorable. And get this, she used CELERY!
Perfect for not only Valentine’s Day, you could make a card featuring this celery-inspired bouquet of happiness for Mother’s Day, Easter, Grandparent’s Day, a get well card, even a just-to-say-I-love-you card. The possibilities are endless!
Interested in helping your kids make their own? Here’s how:
Family Circle has given us yet another, amazing opportunity to share a few of our fitness secrets with the world and we are SO excited!
Chris and I have designed a week’s worth of 4-minute workouts, making getting healthy and feeling great a realistic goal for even the busiest schedule. Check out the solution to your workout woes *here*.
So when I was down and out following Ruby’s birth and my kidney stone surgeries, one of my favorite people in the world came and spoiled us rotten with THE best, veggie-packed dinner ever! We loved it so much, I had to share the recipe that Karlee discovered on Perry’s Plate Pinterest page! Enjoy!
Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
What you’ll need:
1 poblano chile, cut into matchsticks
2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, halved and slivered
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 T heat-safe oil like grapeseed or coconut
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups homemade or store bought salsa/pico de gallo
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 big handfuls)
9-10 corn tortillas, halved
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
sour cream and thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish, if desired
What you’ll do:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Lightly oil a large shallow roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet.
3. Place poblanos, red bell peppers, cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, and corn kernels onto cookie sheet. Drizzle with a high heat oil like grapeseed or avocado oil. Sprinkle the cumin and minced garlic over top. Add a generous pinch or two of salt and black pepper, then use your hands to mix everything together….
(For complete recipe directions and additional tips on adapting this yummy recipe to your personal preferences, go to Perry’s Plate.)
The holidays are finally here! While I love this season more than any other, I have to admit that the multiple gatherings and parties can make it tough for even ME to stay on track. No one wants to go into the New Year with extra baggage, right?
Not to fear, help is here!
Behold, my top 10 tips for holiday survival
Plan your meals ahead of time so when the holiday craziness sets in you’ll be prepared to make better choices.
Eat before you go to parties and gatherings, and take healthy foods. Not only will you have a non-diet busting option, but those with similar goals will thank you!
Eat breakfast. You’ll start your day out right and will be less tempted to overindulge on all those holiday goodies.
Pack your shopping cart with lots of fruits and veggies, and make sure you eat at least five servings every day. Make them easily accessible: keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, keep cut up veggies in the fridge, and take them with you wherever you go for a quick and healthy snack.
Move, move, move. Make time for exercise—at least five minutes—every day. Rev up your metabolism by exercising before and after holiday dinners so fewer of those holiday calories will find a final resting place! And remember, exercising is a great opportunity to spend quality, non-screen-involved time with family and friends, so involve them too!
Give neighbors and family non-food treats—they will probably thank you for this! Some ideas: a coupon for an act of service, an ornament, or other inexpensive items that will last longer than the holidays. Or if you must give treats, give something that can be enjoyed post-holidays like frozen cookie dough, mixes, and so on.
Stay hydrated to fight hunger and holiday fatigue by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day (150 pounds = 75 ounces of water).
Do enjoy your holiday favorites—in moderation. Often a few bites will satisfy that craving for those foods you’re so fond of, and honestly, a few bites won’t blow your weight loss goals!
And last, but certainly not least, stay focused on your goals throughout the holidays. While you might not have total control over what foods you’re served, you always have control over what you choose to eat and do (exercise!). Be sure to keep your promises to yourself, and you’ll have a healthy and rewarding holiday season and an awesome start to the New Year!
What’s for dinner? White Chicken Chili in the Slow Cooker!
POSTED ON December 17, 2013
Slow cookers were made for me, I’m pretty sure. It seems like the only way my family can get even close to gourmet (or even home cooked) meal these days! The Powell 6 Pack is amazing, but they sure keep my time limited :).
Slow cooker to the rescue! Stews, chili, soups, roasts, lean meats…All cooked to perfection in the slow cooker. It helps that there are SO many healthy recipe options using this little appliance too! Here is one of them.
White Chicken Chili
What you’ll need:
4-5 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (leftovers work great, you could also use leftover Thanksgiving turkey)
3 15.5 oz cans great northern beans (rinse and drain to remove extra sodium)
½ cup chopped onion
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
1 14.5 oz can low fat (I prefer 99% fat free), low sodium chicken broth
Plain, non-fat greek yogurt for garnish
How to make it:
Put everything in your slow cooker (except the yogurt), stir together until well mixed, and cook on low for 6-9 hours. That’s it. Stir a dollop of yogurt into each serving for some extra creamy goodness and enjoy!
If you have a favorite healthy slow cooker recipe, share it in the comments below so we can all try it out!
What’s in it:
Recipe makes 9 servings. Each serving has 251 calories, 21.5g protein, 7g fat, 22g carbs, 7.5g fiber and 122.5mg sodium.
As of January 2011, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
18.8 million people are diagnosed.
7.0 million people are undiagnosed.
79 million people are pre-diabetic.
1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.
No wonder questions about diabetes and diabetes management are so common!
Let me say this up front: I am not a doctor or registered dietician, so if you have diabetes, please discuss carb cycling and exercise—and how both fit into your individual situation—with your health care team. They might decide carb cycling is the answer for you, or that it is not, or that it could be with a few modifications. That being said, here is some general diabetes-related information I’ve found that will hopefully help you and your team create the best plan for you!
If you’d like some very basic and easy to understand information about diabetes (what it is, symptoms, an explanation of the three types, etc.), check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website.
Diet and Diabetes:
You’ll probably notice that a lot of these ideas apply to carb cycling in general (for diabetics and non-diabetics), with a few adjustments for Gestational Diabetes.
Here are a couple of personal observations from my own experience of working with diabetics (again, please discuss these with your health care team to see if they’re right for you):
Many of our show “peeps” have Type 2 Diabetes and have totally reversed this by following our most conservative carb cycle, The Easy Cycle.
Diabetics have insulin resistant cells, and carb cycling—alternating between high and low-carb days—can make cells insulin sensitive, which is the goal of any diabetic!
No matter what type of diabetes you have, the actual amount of food (carbs, protein, and fats) to eat at each meal depends on the number of calories you need, which is based on your age, sex, weight, activity level, and whether or not you take insulin. Work with your health care team to design the program that is best for you. To find a registered dietician in your area, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website.
Exercise and Diabetes:
The guidelines for exercise and diabetes can depend on which type of diabetes you have, but here are some general tips:
I know I’ve just touched the surface of the diabetes discussion, but the most important thing to remember is that you can have diabetes and reach your health and fitness goals. It might take some time, creativity, and a lot of communication with your healthcare team, but once you find the formula that works for you, the sky’s the limit! ☺
I stole this way-too-yummy shake recipe off the Instagram account of my good friend (and fellow fitness junkie), Kacey Luvi. If you’re not a fan of protein shakes, I beg you to please try this one…you won’t regret it!
As Kacey said, “Fall and fitness have never tasted so good.” Mmmm…she’s right. Even better? It is the perfect Low Carb shake for those Carb Cycling.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake - serves 1
What you’ll need:
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2-3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 scoop Vanilla flavored protein powder (she uses an Oatmeal Cookie flavor…but Vanilla is delish too)
3-4 shakes each of cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
How you’ll make it:
1. Pour all ingredients into blender.
2. Add ice and blend to experience healthy heaven in your mouth ☺.
What’s in it:
Each serving has 236 incredibly healthy calories, 23 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of fat.
It is true the behind every great man is a great woman. Please let me introduce you to today’s guest blogger, a good friend, amazing mommy and wife, and fellow fitness and nutrition guru, Lynn Manning.
Ps – if you don’t follow her already, you should start now! (See her links below). She is full of wisdom, tips, and tricks to get even the pickiest eaters to eat. Something all of us parents appreciate!
Sweet Potato Brownie From Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit. Copyright (c) Lynn Manning
One of my favorite things about Chris and Heidi Powell is that they teach their clients the most important lesson (in my opinion) when it comes to permanent weight-loss… It’s a lifestyle, not a diet! It’s not about fad diets, but instead healthier habits that’ll help you to lose the weight and more importantly, keep it off!
As a “foodie”, I felt nutrition would be the hardest part. My motto has always been “It’s not nutritious if it doesn’t get eaten!” I’m not a plain chicken and broccoli gal and knew I couldn’t lose weight if I had to eat tasteless food every day.
The good news is that nutritious food can taste amazing! One way my clients and I stay on track is by having healthier desserts. This is a great way to trick yourself into feeling like you are still indulging, but without sabotaging your progress.
One of my favorite recipes, that kids love too, is my Sweet Potato Brownie recipe. Hope you love it as much as we do and learn that sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too!
Sweet Potato Brownies Serves 9
What you’ll need:
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 cup Truvia
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, whisked
1 medium sweet potato
How to make it:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
2. Use a knife or a fork to puncture the sweet potato before baking it for 25-30 minutes.
3. Once your sweet potato is cooked all the way through, peel the skin and mash it up in a bowl.
4. Turn your oven down to 350 degrees.
5. Add in the Truvia, vanilla, whisked eggs, and coconut oil. Mix together.
6. Add in the coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.
7. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with coconut oil and pour in the mixture.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until you can poke a toothpick in the middle and have it come out clean.
9. Let it cool and enjoy.
What’s in it:
Each serving has: 102 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g fat, 113 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs.
Eating this often is new to many people, especially those that skip breakfast and suddenly realize halfway through the day, that they’ve also missed lunch. Irregular eating can derail your fitness goals.
Preparation is key to eating every three hours. While we all know the best laid plans can go awry with an emergency, you get stuck in traffic, a meeting goes longer than planned, etc., so many people ask Chris and I what happens if I accidentally skip a meal or am unable to eat my meal on time. What do you do?
Find out the answers by watching this week’s Ask Heidi Anything.