Calorie Planned Meals: Taking the pain out of dieting

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Calories: our body’s essential source of energy. Planning our calorie intake. Why counting calories is difficult? What is a calorie planned meal? Using Calorie Planned Meals as part of a weight control program. Is using a calorie plan a good technique to follow? So what type of Calorie Planned meals is best? But what do these meals look like?

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Table of Contents

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Calories: our body’s essential source of energy Our daily calorie intake is essential in providing us with the energy to perform physical activity and in part in maintaining or changing our body weight. Ideally we only want to take in a daily amount that provides us with all our energy requirements plus a healthy reserve. However that was not always the case and our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to enable us to survive in a feast or famine world. As a result our bodies store calories as fat reserves during times of plenty to ensure we have sufficient reserves to call upon in times when food was scarce. However in modern times this has become a problem as there are for many of us no longer enforced natural periods of fasting such as during winter when food is very scarce. This has resulted in us in modern times building up energy reserves as fat that never gets used leading to obesity and all the negative health issues associated with the condition. Consequently for most of us there is a time when change to our diet is required such as when we have become overweight due to excessive calorie intake or have failed to burn of excessive calories through exercise or physical activity. The latter point is important because calories are the essential fuel for human activity and as such will be burned during exercise or hard physical effort. Therefore it is not just when wishing to lose weight that we must be mindful of our calorie intake we must also pay attention when in athletic pursuits or activities that require large amounts of energy to be expended. This is simply because if we do not consume enough calories to meet the demands of exercise we will start losing body weight as a direct consequence of our bodies using up its reserves. As a result in order to maintain a healthy weight at all times we must we conscious of our calorie intake and balance our intake to our body’s daily requirements.

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Planning our calorie intake The first thing that springs to mind when trying to maintain or indeed to lose weight is that we must balance our calorie intake through food against energy through burnedactivity on a daily basis. After all it is because we are in effect eating too many calories and not burning enough of them through activity that our bodies are storing the excess as fat that we end up overweight. Therefore in its simplest form a plan for losing weight would involve cutting down on our calorie intake as this should enable us to encourage our body to utilize its reserves – fat – and then lose the desired amount of undesirable weight in a controlled fashion. However as with all plans the devil is in the detail as it soon becomes clear that counting calories and planning meals around a set number of daily calories becomes very difficult.

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Why counting calories is difficult The initial problem most of us do not understand is that the sources or qualities of calories are not the same for example high energy athletic drinks are packed with glucose which is fine as a supplement for athletes or those involved in highly strenuous physical activity. But they can be very damaging to those of us with more sedentary life styles even when we pursue a diet that enforces low food intake such as smaller portions and a strict three times a day meal regime. This is also true of alcohol as it is high in calorific content but like glucose is utilized almost immediately by the body as a prime source of energy. So those two glasses of wine in the evening can scupper even the best intentioned diet regime. Similarly there is tremendous confusion as to what is marketed as healthy foods but are in fact meals loaded with extra calories. Examples of this marketing trick are all too common especially in fast food where often the healthy option promoted has more calories than the standard meals. Another seriously demotivating aspect to calorie counting is that so often recipes are promoted that use low-fat or low sugar ingredients that are not typically available in the standard household kitchen. This can result in us substituting stated low-calorie recipe ingredients for available alternatives and thereby defeating the purpose of the exercise. Also there is the issue of variety and choice which a lack of will seriously drain the will power of even the most determined calorie counter over time. However saying that there are solutions as whenever there is a need the market responds to fulfill that niche demand and the result has been pre-prepared and online calorie counted meals and recipes.

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What is a calorie planned meal Importantly it is best to first distinguish calorie planned meals from the convenience single- portion meals that became so popular during the nineties with the advent of the microwave cooker. Those convenience meals were produced and delivered to the market as a result of demand for quick convenient and efficient food that would have been impossible for a single person to cook themselves – well efficiently and cost effectively. The result was a wide variety of choice such as lasagna turkey dinners or roast beef but these meals had a guilty secret – they were packed with calories. What is more they were pretty unhealthy as they had high sodium levels that enhanced the taste but as the portions were so small they rarely filled the appetite. As a result people would feel hungry again a short time later. The important difference with the approach taken by producers of calorie planned meals is that although the objective is the same – convenience – the way they go about it differs significantly. They are filling a niche market were consumers still want a wide variety of choice and convenience but they insist on meals conforming to predetermined and healthy calorie levels. As a result calorie planned meals can be part of a daily diet that enables the consumer to control their calorie intake because they are assured of the calorific intake with each meal.

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Using Calorie Planned Meals as part of a weight control program The major incentive for those undertaking a weight control program is that calorie planned meals removes a lot of the doubt and uncertainty in cooking meals. For example it only takes the wrong choice of cooking oil sauce or choice of ingredients to ruin even the best intentioned meal when calorie counting. However pre-prepared calorie planned meals as good as guarantee the number of calories taken in with each meal. This means that weight watchers can introduce these meals into their daily diet plan with confidence. For example those on a weight maintenance diet may substitute one meal a day with the fixed calorie meal in order to allow them to feel free in the evening to dine with the family and eat the same as everyone else. In the circumstance where weight loss is the goal a person could substitute two meals a day for calorie planned meals and again be confident of falling below their target calorie intake. Also in more stringent weight loss programs a person may well substitute all regular meals for calorie planned meals and thereby stick rigidly to their daily intake schedule. After all knowing exactly what amount of calories you are consuming can only help with the plan to maintain or reduce weight.

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Is using a calorie plan a good technique to follow This where it comes down to the individual as a lot is determined upon their motivation and their tolerance to reducing their food intake. After all healthy weight loss is not about just reducing calorie intake it must also be about maintaining a healthy diet. Therefore a calorie plan should ensure that when reducing your calorific intake that you are still taking in all the essential nutrients and vitamins that your body requires to function. So it is essential that diet meals that you do consume are fortified with the essential elements and provide a balanced diet. This means that the choice of a calorie planned diet should address the needs of your body as well as your ultimate goals. The lesson is not to be too ambitious and start by cutting down by using an appropriate level of reduction using calorie planned meals sensibly if not your body will likely rebel. A clear demonstration of this was when the team of Thai football youngsters found themselves caught up in a cave due to rising flood water they were hungry and eventually almost starving they were able to meditate and put hunger at bay during the day but in their sleep they dreamed of roast chickens and barbecue pork. The lesson learned is that your body will demand what it needs so don’t push it over the limits use calorie planned meals as part of a weight maintenance or loss plan but don’t overdo it.

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So what type of Calorie Planned meals is best Well this all depends on your Basic Metabolic Rate BMR as it determines the calorie intake required to sustain you through a prolonged period of inactivity – such as being in bed all day. This is importantly the minimum level required to sustain your important bodily functions such as keeping your liver kidney and heart functioning. Therefore you want to cut down your calorific intake gradually not go immediately for very low calorie planned meals as it is likely to be counterproductive. There is a scientific equation that may help you but it is very broad ranging as it suggests a sedentary lifestyle but to maintain your current body weight you should take in the number of calories daily that equals your current weight times by 12. Should you wish to lose weight then cutting your calorie intake by just 500 calories a day will result in a weight loss of 1lb a week. To reduce 2lb of bodyweight reduce your intake by 1000 calories per day. As calorie planned meals typically come in a variety of calorific content from 850 to 1500 calories a day for weight loss and the average male of 160lbs requiring just short of 2000 calories a day be aware of your own tolerance to this type of adjustment to your diet. However for body weight maintenance programs where the objective is to maintain the individuals current weight the choice is easier just by substituting one meal a day will likely lower the intake over time and can be adjusted by monitoring your body weight carefully to suit.

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But what do these meals look like It is very easy to think that you will embark upon a 1500 calories daily meal plan but what does it actually consist off This can be a daunting prospect for an individual undertaking the plan as often these meals look less than appetising. However modern approaches to meal planning have come about with many variations and appetising recipes. Indeed whole niche markets have rising up to meet the demand for calorie conscious pre-prepared meals that conform to a menu of strict calorie limits yet are healthy tasty and nutritious. Currently they are offered in safe and healthy weight reduction limits at a minimum 850 or for heavier people at a higher limit of 1500. The objective for these companies is to provide meals or recipes that adhere to strict calorie intake that will realise safe levels of weight- loss which is around 1 to 2lbs per week. However many other businesses and websites offer similar calorie planned meals through offering online recipes and suggestions for low calorie meals.

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Conclusion Calorie planned meals are a way for those trying to maintain or lose weight to eat well and still control their weight. Where weight loss is the objective calorie planned meals are tuned to losing a healthy amount of body weight a week while still providing nutritious and appetising pre-prepared meals or recipes. Either way counting calories while still eating healthily or enjoying an appetising variety of food when striving to maintain or lose weight can only be a good thing.

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The End

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