We know that excess body weight can affect health and athletic performance. Thankfully, you can lose weight with healthy eating—and amp up your game. Although healthy eating is often considered restrictive and pricey, in reality it's not. By devoting a little time to learning a few tricks, you can improve your dietary intake—and still keep a flush bank account.
First, learn what a serving size looks like. In our "supersized" world, many people don't realize how many calories they are actually consuming. That lack of knowledge contributes to weight gain (or inability to lose weight). Here are a few basics: a three-ounce serving of meat is the size of your palm; a 1/2 cup serving of rice, pasta and potatoes would fit in your cupped hand; and a serving of fruit is the size a tennis ball. (Learn more about plating portions.)
Protein and Carbs
Second, for each meal and snack, select a lean protein-rich food and a fiber-rich carbohydrate. By balancing your intake, you will be more satisfied—and therefore, need less to eat. Suggestions: one slice of whole grain toast, one tablespoon of peanut butter, one banana and a cup of skim milk for breakfast; a small apple and string cheese for a snack; a three-ounce serving of water-packed tuna, six Melba toasts and a cup of raw or steamed vegetables for lunch; one cup of Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup dried cereal for a snack; three-ounce pork loin, 1/2 cup rice, one roll, two cups mixed salad with two tablespoons of dressing and one cup mixed fruit for dinner; and a cup of ice cream for dessert.
Smart Budget Moves
Finally, use smart budget moves in your quest to learn how to eat healthy and lose weight. Buy items in bulk (less costly than small packages). Cook more than one serving of items like rice and pasta, and freeze them for later use. Pack snacks and meals for pre- and post-practice, so you won't find yourself hungry with only a vending machine or a fast food restaurant as options. Finally, a good plan will allow you to eat more often during the day, so you can avoid long periods without food. This will help decrease the amount you eat later in the day or late at night when you are less likely to make healthy choices.
With a little effort and attention, it is possible to learn how to eat healthy and lose weight.
Melinda Wells Valliant, Ph.D., R.D., CSSD, LD, is an assistant professor of nutrition at The University of Mississippi and the consultant sports dietitian for Ole Miss Athletics, a position she's held for nine years. In addition, she works with Premier Health Education to provide multidisciplinary health-related seminars to PTs, ATCs, strength coaches and athletes. She has educated a wide variety of athletes, many of whom have advanced to the professional rank in their sport.
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