Weight Loss & Diet

Eat More to Lose More Weight

Does the idea of taking smaller portions make you think of deprivation and dieting? Think again! As the Lark hinted, you can take larger portions of others.
Eat More to Lose More Weight
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

As you know from Lark DPP, losing weight can cut your risk for diabetes in half. You may also know that keeping portion sizes in check is a critical strategy for losing weight. Oversized portions can contribute extra calories and get in the way of weight loss.

Does the idea of taking smaller portions make you think of deprivation and dieting? Think again! As the Lark check-in hinted, you can take smaller portions of some foods, but take larger portions of others. The bottom line is that you can have larger meals with fewer calories so you can lose more weight with less hunger!

* High in carbohydrates – have only 2 to 3 high-carbohydrate food servings per meal, such as 1 fruit and 1 grain, or 2 grains and 1 starchy vegetable, or 1 fruit and 1 legume

**High in protein, too.

Taking a look at the following examples can help you spot high-calorie foods and swap them for larger portions of lower-calorie ones.

Easy Food Swaps for Weight Loss

Swapout 1: Bagel and Cream Cheese

Whole-grain bagel

A typical bagel from a bakery cafe has four servings of carbohydrates, usually refined. Add to that a standard serving of cream cheese, and you can eat over 500 calories by the time you fully wake up. 

Try this:Look for an English muffin instead, or cut your whole-grain bagel in half before you start eating. Have cottage cheese or low-fat cream cheese instead of full-fat, and add some lettuce and tomato or half an apple to your meal. Now it is bigger and higher in protein and fiber, and it has about 300 calories.

Swapout 2: Blueberry Muffin

Best Muffins and Muffin Recipes for Prediabetes

Blueberries and bran may be fiber and antioxidant-rich superfoods, but a standard blueberry or bran muffin from a bakery cafe has 500 calories, 30 to 40 grams of added sugar, 50 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 measly grams of protein. (In comparison, a bag of M&M’s has 31 grams of sugar).

Try this: A mini muffin has 70 to 80 calories and 6 to 8 grams of sugar. If you need your sweet fix in the morning, try two mini muffins with ½ oz. of walnuts and ½ cup of blueberries or strawberries. You will get 320 calories and only 14 grams of added sugars, along with some fiber, heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.

Swapout 3: Whopper and Medium Fries

Vegetable Burger

This classic combo has 1,200 calories, or enough for some people for a full day. It also has over 7 servings of starch due to the bun and the potatoes, and more than the maximum amount of saturated fat recommended for an entire day. Like many restaurant and fast food menu items, cheeseburgers have grown over the years, as have serving sizes of fries.

Try this: Your best bet is a salad with grilled chicken and light dressing on the side, but you can get your fix of a burger and fries without going overboard. Order a small or kid-sized cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, and without mayonnaise or special sauce, and a small or value-sized fries, and you can get away with 500 calories and 3 servings of carbohydrates. If you are still hungry, common low-calorie, nutritious options are a side salad, some carrot sticks, or apple slices.

Swapout 4: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Whole-grain pasta

A main course-sized order of spaghetti and meatballs or other pasta dishes can easily have over 1,000 calories and 100 grams of carbohydrates, or nearly 7 servings of carbs. Do not even think about the breadsticks that may come with the meal, since each may add 25 grams of carbohydrates and a load of unnecessary fat. While restaurant meals are usually biggest, home-served pasta meals can be dangerous too if you go for second and third helpings. Meatballs are high in saturated fat.

Try this: Many restaurants offer whole-grain pasta, which is higher in fiber and antioxidants, and you can always the order with a friend or pack up half (or more) to take home to eat later. Marinara sauce is usually a good choice, as are vegetables, shrimp, and grilled chicken, instead of meatballs, sausage, or breaded chicken. Better yet, grilled chicken or fish, without breading or creamy or buttery sauce, is high in protein and low in calories and carbohydrates. Make your meal bigger without many more calories by starting with minestrone soup and adding a side salad and/or steamed vegetables with the pasta.

Swapout 5: Fried Chicken Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes and Coleslaw

Chicken Salad

A fried chicken breast can have up to 400 calories, along with half a serving of carbs and 20 grams of fat. A bun or bread for a sandwich, or a biscuit on the side, adds another 2 or 3 starch servings, and mashed potatoes add a couple more. Coleslaw has very little cabbage compared to mayonnaise, and the total meal can have 800 calories. Baked beans, pasta salad, and potato salad are also high-calorie and high-fat.

Try this: Grilled chicken, without bread or a biscuit, is usually an option at fast food chicken restaurants, and it can have half the calories as fried, and almost no carbohydrates. Sides such as green beans, corn on the cob without butter, and side salads with light dressing on the side can fill out the meal while keeping it under 400 calories.

The general strategy is to:

  • Recognize oversized portions.
  • Serve yourself less of the higher-calorie foods.
  • Fill up your plate or bowl with lower-calorie foods, often non-starchy vegetables.