restaurants

breakfast comparison - 3 choices out and about

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", so I've heard since I was a kid. And while I totally agree with that sentiment, it's not because of what you might think - not so much because I want to fill my body with nutrients so I can start my day off right...

No, I can start my day off just fine without eating first thing in the morning. I've even written about the benefits of delaying eating breakfast.

For me, breakfast can be the meal that makes or breaks my calorie numbers for the whole day. A moderate breakfast of 350 calories (or so) leaves me a lot of flexibility in my choices for lunch, snacks, and dinner. On the flip-side, I usually break my calorie budget on days when I put down a 600-calorie breakfast. So, eating a "good" breakfast goes a long way in determining whether or not I'm going to win that day.

Here are some calorie comparisons of common, quick breakfast options while you're out and about:

Einstein Bros Bagels - Sesame bagel (300) with a shmear of cream cheese (150-300). Eating a full bagel with a big shmear of cream cheese is going to cost you 600 calories! However, eating half of that meal while saving the other half for tomorrow gives you a very reasonable 300 calorie breakfast.

Eating half a bagel with a big pile of cream cheese is one of my favorite eating-out (or people bring food to work) breakfasts. It's a filling use of 300 calories - enough that I don't need to eat again until lunch, but without giving me that full-belly, need to take a nap feeling. Unfortunately it can be difficult to stop at half, especially when it tasted really good and there's another half just staring at me.

Will power goes a long way on this one. Eating half for 300 calories is a great breakfast; eating the 2nd half for 600 calories - not so much...

McDonald's - Sausage McMuffin w/ Egg. This little treat isn't too far off the chart at 450 calories. But be mindful of the 860 mg sodium content, and reaching for the side of hash brown will cost you an additional 150 calories.

This is one of the few items I can eat at McDonald's without feeling a heavy gut after eating, but I still don't have a craving-desire to eat one of these very often. Plus, it's hard to not order a hash brown with it, and once I do that I've just used up 600 of my daily calorie budget.

Krispy Kreme - Maybe you stop for a melts-in-your-mouth donut on the way to work, or maybe somebody brings a box of them into the office. Either way they're pretty hard to resist. An original glazed provides 200 calories' worth of goodness, while a chocolate iced glazed will set you back 250 calories.

Eating 2 Krispy Kreme originals for 400 calories isn't the worst thing in the world - especially as a once in awhile treat, but I find they aren't the most filling calories, and I'll be hungrier sooner than I would be when eating other breakfasts. Plus, it can be hard to stop at two, and that third one's a budget-buster!

Summary

The biggest takeaway here is that knowledge is power. Knowing how many calories are in your breakfast budget, and how many are in your breakfast, is a key ingredient for a successful day.

- Chris Butterworth

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300 posts ago: running in the cold is hard
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30,000 steps

Last month we did a lot of walking on our vacation - a lot of walking. My wife's pedometer read 30,000 steps one day, and I'm not even sure that was our longest walking day.



The walking site tells me I walked 15 miles that day, which means I blew through about 1,875 extra calories, if we assume 125 calories per mile. But that doesn't tell the whole story of the day - I could still have either gained weight or lost weight, depending on how much I ate.

So, let's see how I did:
  • Breakfast (600 calories). I brought a bagel with me and grabbed a mocha from the hotel's Starbucks.
  • Snacks (900 calories). I ate a few energy bars during those in-between times. (mid-morning 225, noon-ish 225, 5:00ish 290.) I also had a few handfuls of some of my boys' sweets.
  • Lunch (500 calories). We ate a late lunch, and I split a plate with my wife.
  • Dinner (1,200 calories). We ate dinner at a restaurant, where I enjoyed a full meal - and licked my plate clean!
  • Total Consumption for the day: I consumed about 3,425 calories.
  • Total Calories Burned for the day: I walked off 1,875, plus my normal 1,900 calories per day at rest. Overall I burned about 3,775 calories.

This means I burned off 350 more calories than I ate. 350 calories - that's all - on a day when I walked 15 miles! This helps to make a few points:
  1. It takes a lot of exercise to outrun your daily eating, but it's possible.
  2. I was able to slow-drip food all day long, so that I was neither hungry nor full throughout the day.
  3. Restaurant meals are too big. Even with 15 miles of walking, splitting lunch was the difference between net loss and net gain; I would have eaten more than I burned if I had ordered my own lunch. And that restaurant dinner.. I would have been way on the good side if I had eaten a non-restaurant dinner.

Most of us aren't able to walk 15 miles in a day; it simply takes more time than we have available. But the lessons learned can be applied to our everyday lives.

Move a little more. Eat a little less. Snack strategically. And be careful in restaurants!

- Chris Butterworth

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running for dinner - or running from dinner

RunKeeper tells me I ran approximately 12 miles last week and burned about 1,400 calories.

I'm not saying whether that's good or bad, a lot or a little, and I didn't run all 12 miles at once. I ran 1-3 miles at a time over the course of 6 different runs. There was nothing particularly notable or astonishing about any of these runs individually, but the fact I was able to consistently get myself out of bed (when it's still dark outside) to get my day started with a run... That's an accomplishment which took some dedication and perseverance, even if only for a week.

This weekend was hectic around our house (even more so than normal), and we were getting into Saturday evening without a dinner plan. At one point while we were in the car I considered stopping at the local Applebees, just so we could take a break and let somebody else prepare dinner for us.



If we had eaten there, I would have ordered the boneless wings (810 calories) with classic buffalo sauce (200 calories) and french fries (440 calories) - that's 1,450 calories for dinner, and that's if I'm able to stick with water to drink!

Turns out waking up early and motivating myself to get out the door for a run 6 days a week is exactly what it takes to offset one dinner at a restaurant (1). Just think how much I would have to run if we ate out more often..!

Luckily for me our last event of the evening was behind schedule, and we decided it was too late to stop off for a long sit-down dinner.

- Chris Butterworth

(1) - I've written many times that it's possible to order small at a restaurant and be ok on your eating plan. But for me, hungry at the end of a long, hectic day, I would have ordered a "regular" sized portion that night, and I would have cleaned my plate!

200 posts ago: FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need

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pizza for lunch on a diet?

Absolutely!

Success comes more from how much you eat than what you eat, so you just need to eat the right amount.

Trying to find the exact calorie count for a slice of pepperoni pizza is an inexact science - I'm finding numbers ranging from 300 - 400 calories per slice at most places (330 for a large slice of Papa John's.) I usually eat slices from Barro's - they're near my office and they have a great lunch special, but since their slices are thicker and heavier than average, I'm going to ballpark a 400 calorie number from the high end of the range for my example.

Now, how much pizza can I eat?

400 calories for a thick slice of pepperoni pizza.

600 calories if you can stop at one and a half slices.

800 calories if you eat both slices.


You have to start by knowing what your calorie budget is for the day.

I burn about 1,900 calories per day without exercising, so allowing for 2,200 (give or take) on a day when I run is a fair number. If I drink a 350 calorie fruit juicee for breakfast, I can eat 2 slices of pizza for lunch, and still have over 1,000 calories available for snack, dinner, and dessert. This also gives me flexibility to adjust how much pizza I eat according to how much I'm going to eat for dinner, or whether I skipped a workout, or even if the scale showed a bigger number than usual that day.

If I was trying to lose weight, or if I was a 5' 3" woman trying to maintain weight, my daily calorie budget might be about 1,500. In that case, 2 full slices would probably be too much pizza on a regular basis, but 1 slice should be ok. I could even get away with 1 1/2 slices if I managed the rest of my day really well.

On the other hand, someone trying to keep their daily calorie intake down to about 1,000 calories would find a 400 calorie slice of pizza as their large meal of the day - a feast of a meal. But even in that ultra-restricted scenario, a half slice of pizza would be a filling way to spend 200 precious calories..

What I like about pizza - other than that it tastes awesome! - is that it's a filling use of calories. It's a good blend of carbs, protein, and fat, which gives your body plenty of short-term and long-term fuel.

So go ahead and eat some pizza. Enjoy it. Savor it. Just don't eat too much. And don't wash it down with a large soda!

- Chris Butterworth

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200 posts ago: running for time or distance

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Mexican food - ordering small against peer pressure

We ate out for Mexican food this weekend. Ah, Mexican food - one of my favorites, but I don't think there's a more gluttonous menu out there! Eating out at a Mexican food restaurant can be a big setback; it's one of those meals where you can get to 3,000 calories without trying too hard.

image clipped from Ajo Al's website.


But I had a plan. I ate small for breakfast and lunch, saving myself some extra calories in my daily budget. And I knew we'd be cooking at home the next couple days, so I'd be able to eat smaller and healthier portions as a follow-up if necessary.

I also planned to order small, knowing there's always plenty of food on the table anyway, in case I needed a little extra. I ordered a shredded beef taco with a side of beans, estimating 300-400 calories for the taco and 150-200 for the beans. Add in the chips and salsa before the meal and whatever I sampled from my wife's and kids' plates, and sticking with water to drink, and I shouldn't be too far past 1,000 calories for the meal.

  • Dieting Note - If you limit yourself to 10-12 chips w/ salsa, then eat the beef taco w/ beans, you can walk away from the meal at about 600-700 calories - totally doable even when dieting, as long as you budget for it within your day. Just make sure to avoid the dips and heavy sauces (guacamole, sour cream, queso dip, baja sauce), combo plates, and sugary drinks (sodas, margaritas).


The hardest part about the whole meal was not succumbing to peer pressure when ordering. I ordered an a la cart beef taco w/ a side of beans, and everyone at the table (including the waitress) looked at me like I had a 3rd eye. "Is that all you're going to eat?" was the common question.

I wavered, just for a moment, thinking about how good the tacos would be and whether I should order a 2nd, or maybe add a chicken enchilada (covered in sauce) to the plate. Nope - my order was good, and I was sticking to it. Funny looks or not.

Make a good plan, and stick to it - even under peer pressure, and you'll be successful.

- Chris Butterworth

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