From the previous blog we learned that cutting 500 calories a day is equivalent to 3500 calories a week which is equal to 1 pound of body fat. In other words, you can lose 1 pound a week by cutting 500 calories from your diet everyday for the next 6 months.
For the African, cutting calories is quite easy. Our meals come in insanely high calories, it is very easy to start cutting down.
Take for instance 1 Ball of a small Ga Kenkey (400g) has a whopping 1440 calories!
Think about it, the total daily requirement is 2000 calories for the average person, just one ball of Kenkey is 1440 calories. After adding meat and stew you are tallying between 2000 and 2200 calories. Right, scary…
So by even reducing the Kenkey by 1/3 its size, (cut Kenkey into 3 parts, consume 2 out of the 3 pieces) you can cut out 480 calories easily. By also reducing the amount of the oil in the stew or cutting down on the meat or fish you would have exceeded the 500 calories we are trying to cut.
Even better is to avoid Kenkey as much as possible. Kenkey is a great meal for Ghanaians in Ghana where we walk to the store, the church, and to visit neighbors. In America, or the Western world, our reduced physical activity doesn’t allow us to consume such high caloric meals.
Let’s consider white rice. 1 Cup of cooked rice brings in 240 calories(1 cup dry is 720 calories). The average person can easily consume 4 cups or more of cooked rice, which comes up to 920 calories! The average tomato stew is 250 calories for ¼ of a cup. 1 fried chicken drumstick is 200 calories. The average person goes for two. (By the way, the total protein requirement in a day is the size of two drumsticks…Yes!) So we end up with 400 calories on the chicken and 1570 calories on the meal! Again with that meal we have gotten daringly close to the average of 2000 calories needed in a day.
By cutting the rice down by 2 cups we would have saved 480 calories. And by reducing the amount of oil in the stew by just 1 table spoon per serving we save an extra 600 calories. Well, 600 calories is the equivalent of a man jogging for 1 hr or walking for 2 hrs 30 minutes.
Imagine doing this for 2 or more meals you can easily cut over 100o calories a day.
On our CD/DVD we go through several Ghanaian dishes and how to adjust them to cut 500 to 1000 calories a day while at the same time increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. You can also visit our nutrition center for the calories of almost all Ghanaian dishes. With this tool you can start making the right adjustments.
Understandably, when you start cutting calories you are going to feel hungry at some point during the day. This brings us to a very important point which is increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in our daily foods. I call them “hunger breakers.” Always have an apple, a mango, a cup of strawberries, or a Ziploc of blueberries on you. Other options can always be a small bowl of almonds or walnuts. They serve as a much better alternative to cookies and some other “junk food” we use as snacks.
Consuming fruits and vegetables and making them part of your daily life brings untold benefits. For a start their fiber content create a feeling of fullness which cuts down your overall caloric intake from other sources such as rice or corn. Fiber is also known to hold on to sugar and fat molecules preventing their absorption from the gut. By this they decrease the glycemic index of sugars and starches. They decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They also protects you against heart disease, stroke and several cancers. Not to mention the antioxidants they bring along which detoxifies your blood, reducing cell damage and inflammation. This ultimately prevents cancers and a myriad of chronic diseases.
Getting on the scale
I recommend an electronic scale where you see the decimals as well.
Now since this method implies you will be losing some weight every day, you will have to get on the scale every morning.
I know this goes against what we know about weight loss. But here is the trick. When you get on the scale every morning you should see some drop in your weight like 0.05 lb. some little fraction. Sometimes as in my case I could lose about a pound a day depending on how much I cut.
If your weight is not going down on the scale it indicates you did something wrong the day before. You either overate, ate too late or sneaked in some dangerous McD’s or Burger King. This allows you to fix the mistake in a timely manner. Some people recommend getting on the scale in 1-2 weeks. You will have no idea where you went wrong with this.
So here is the challenge to everyone, cut down by 500 to 1000 a day, lose 1-2 pounds a week for 6 to 8 months. You are guaranteed to lose 20 to 30 pounds on just the diet part. Increasing your physical activity will cause you to lose even more calories.
As a caveat, if you are not seeing the needed results you may have other issues playing a role which are addressed in this next article.
Thank you and God be with you on this journey.