Losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult, but most dietitians now advocate a seemingly simple strategy: Count your calories.
Doing so ensures you burn more calories than you consume, helping you lose weight (also read Weight gain during pregnancy), but many people find that so-called "hidden calories" are easy to miss. Finding all of your hidden calories requires ongoing diligence, but knowing some of the most common ones can help you avoid traps people often encounter. Here are some of the most common hidden calories.
Most of us could improve our overall health and get on the road to an appropriate weight by incorporating more green vegetables into our diets, and salads are a great option. However, most salads also use one of the top sources of hidden calories: Dressings. Make sure to track calories from salad dressing, even if it means you need to measure your portions. Furthermore, take a look at salad dressings with fewer calories; switching from ranch to a vinaigrette, for example, can help you meet your daily calorie goals.
Tasty, nutritious, and convenient, nuts are a great option for healthy eating. However, healthy doesn't always mean low in calories. Despite how healthy they are, nuts are more calorie-dense than many people imagine, which means they can add hundreds of calories in a small package. Furthermore, nuts are easy to snack on for an extended period of time. Diligence is important when tracking your calories, so make sure to measure out your portions beforehand.
Coffee itself contains a negligible amount of calories. If you drink your coffee black, even multiple cups a day is unlikely to have much of an effect on meeting your calorie goals. If you prefer your coffee with sugar, cream, and milk, on the other hand, make sure to monitor and record your intake. Artificial sweeteners can be a great way to reduce your caloric intake, and using lighter creams or milk can help as well. Regardless, make sure to measure out how much sugar, cream, and milk you add to your coffee: The calories add up quickly.
When deciding to eat healthier or lose weight, people often turn to natural options. While fruits are generally a healthier option than sugary snacks, many contain a surprising amount of sugar and, therefore, calories. Grapes, for example, make it easy to consume hundreds of calories in a short period. Many types of berries, on the other hand, contain far less sugar. Enjoy using fruits as a healthy treat, but make sure to include them on your calorie tracker.
Over the years, science has shown that certain types of fat are healthy to consume, and many people have switched from various sources of fat to olive oil, which offers a tasty and healthier alternative. Even though the fats in olive oil are generally considered healthy, it's still a calorie-dense ingredient. Just one tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120 calories, so it's easy to accidentally add hundreds of calories to a meal. Being high in calories doesn't make something inherently unhealthy, but it does mean you need to factor it in when tracking your calories.
Cutting out soda can be a great way to improve your diet, but people are often surprised to find out how many calories are in other drinks as well. Juices offer a natural alternative to soft drinks, but they often aren't any better in terms of calories. Furthermore, many sports drinks are rich in calories as well, so you'll need to keep track of what you drink to maintain an appropriate calorie count or switch to a low- or no-calorie option. Be cautious around various types drinks that include "water" in the name as well. Coconut water, for example, can easily contain more than 100 calories in a typical serving due to its sugar and carbohydrate content.
Perhaps the least surprising source of hidden calories is also the most pervasive. Grabbing a snack can help you feel recharged, and enjoying a quick snack with coworkers can be great for staying social while at work. However, even small portions of common snacks can push you over your calorie limit for the day. Furthermore, it's easy to consume far more than you planned when snacking, particularly if the snack container is nearby. Make a resolution to track all of your calories, including small portions of snacks. You might be surprised at just how much your snacking is affecting your diet.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is a great goal in life, and calorie counting is the best way to track your progress and find areas for improvement. However, it's easy to make small mistakes that can throw your count off significantly, leaving you wondering why you're struggling. Be diligent, and make it a goal to not let any calories slip by.