Edited by Kate Findley and proofread by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily
Unless you’re training for a marathon or engaging in other forms of extreme exercise, you’re most likely taking in more calories than you’re burning. Thankfully, there are simple ways you can start cutting calories. Professor Ormsbee explains.
Restaurants and Calorie Intake
Probably the easiest way to consume fewer calories overall and to create a negative energy balance is to consider how much you eat out at restaurants every week. In 2014, researchers looked at the effects of restaurant food consumption on total calorie intake.
Not surprisingly, eating out at a fast food or a full-service restaurant resulted in an increase in total energy intake, saturated fat, and sodium intake. In fact, eating out resulted in approximately an extra 200 calories eaten per day.
If you did this every day, that’s an extra 73,000 calories per year and possibly up to 20 pounds of fat gain per year. This is not uncommon, either.
The typical adult American eats a meal or snack from a restaurant 5.8 times per week. You can see how this may cause a long-term positive energy balance (more calories gained than burned), especially if you make poor choices at the restaurant and don’t exercise much.
Even with busy schedules, making a conscious effort to prepare more meals at home may make the difference between being stuck in a plateau and reaching the goals you have set for yourself.
Controlling Portion Sizes
Now let’s move away from eating out and think about eating at home. Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s best to use small plates and bowls to limit how much food you can eat in one sitting.
The idea is that if you have bigger plates and bowls, you are more likely to increase your portion sizes and overeat compared to if you use smaller versions. However, this may actually be a myth based on the science that exists.
It turns out that when people are given the option of using a small plate or a large plate, it didn’t actually change the number of total calories they ate at that meal. However, it is definitely important to be conscious of portion sizes you are dishing up for yourself when cooking at home or eating out.
Sometimes, you just need to practice eating until you’re about 80% full. It can take a while for you to realize that you’ve had enough to eat—sometimes as long as 15 to 20 minutes.
Our Sedentary Nature
While it’s good to be aware of calorie intake, it’s also important to focus on the energy balance equation in terms of energy output. What can you do to control how many calories you burn in a day?
This question will then focus you on the subject of the sedentary nature of our society. Americans spend an average of 13 hours per day with no movement.
If you add in 8 hours of sleep, this makes a total of 21 hours per day—almost 90% of your day. Studies have found that even if you’re doing some physical activity during the day, it can’t outdo the harmful effects of sitting during the other time.
Thus, even if you exercise for 30 minutes, all the other sitting is still unhealthy. Sitting for an extended amount of time per day has been related to the development of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Thankfully, the solutions for this issue are simple, effective, and can easily fit into a busy schedule. Tomorrow’s article will describe the various solutions, along with the research behind them.
This article was edited by Kate Findley, Writer for Wondrium Daily, and proofread by Angela Shoemaker, Proofreader and Copy Editor for Wondrium Daily.
Michael Ormsbee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences and Interim Director of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University. He received his MS in Exercise Physiology from South Dakota State University and his PhD in Bioenergetics from East Carolina University.