Like a lot of people, I’m a sucker for carbohydrates, especially in my evening meal which is always my biggest meal of the day. Whether it be potatoes, pasta or rice, it’s always the carbohydrates which take up most of the space on my plate.
I’m aware that I need carbohydrates for energy, so cutting them out or reducing them significantly would be both unhelpful and unsustainable long term. But, I can’t deny that I’m probably consuming more than I really need. As excess carbohydrate can lead to fat storage and affect blood sugar levels, this could explain why I’m struggling to find the energy to do the things I’d like to, as well as holding me back from losing a few pounds of fat.
I have tried reducing my carbohydrate intake in the past, mainly by cutting out certain foods such as bread and pasta from my diet, but unsurprisingly never kept it up for any length of time. As I was always focused on eating less, these changes significantly affected my portion sizes, so much so, that I was often left feeling unsatisfied and reaching for the snacks an hour or two afterwards. Having thought about this for a little while, I realised that for me to be happy making a long-term change to my dietary habits, I needed to feel full enough and satisfied after eating, especially after eating my evening meal.
I knew that over half of my plate was always filled with carbohydrates but realised that I always put it on my plate first, followed by my protein (normally meat) and then added the veg wherever there was space left on the plate. Often there wasn’t a lot of room left, meaning my veg portion was probably too small. So, this week’s micro change is incredibly simple – I’m going to put the veg on my plate first and carbohydrates on my plate last. My theory is that I’ll put more vegetables on my plate than usual, meaning that I’ll naturally have less room on my plate for the carbohydrates. This will hopefully mean I will be increasing my vegetable intake and reducing both my carbohydrate and overall calorie intake too. But, most importantly, the overall portion size of my meal hasn’t changed.
I thought I’d better test the theory before posting this as my weekly micro-change, so I used a calorie counting App to test for two versions of one of my favourite meals – sausage and mash (Lincolnshire sausages of course). Normally, I create a mash mountain and place the sausages on top, before adding the peas, broccoli and green beans wherever there is space. This time, I placed the vegetables on the plate first, adding as many as I wanted before adding the sausages. Finally, I added the mash. I can honestly say that, not only did I not feel hungry after eating, I felt fuller than I normally would. So, I felt like it worked – now it’s time to see whether the maths backs up my claim:
My normal meal contained 607 calories (kcal) containing 83 grams (g) of carbohydrate (54% of the whole meal).
By simply changing the order I put the food on my plate, my new meal contained 485kcal containing 56g of carbohydrate (45% of the whole meal).
Remember, I still had the same amount of food on my plate as before and still felt as full after eating. I wasn’t consciously making alterations to my portion sizes either; I simply put as much of each type of food on the plate as I wanted, but changed the order in which I did this.
Making this change meant that I consumed 27g of carbohydrate less than normal and reduced my calorie intake by 122kcal. That might sound good, but not particularly impressive. However, if I was to make this small change every day for a month I’d save almost 3500kcal – that’s a whole pound of fat. Over a year, it works out at over 12lbs!
In conclusion, I could lose an additional 12lbs of fat over a year by NOT eating less than before.
That sounds pretty good to me.
What tiny change do you want to make this week?
If you would like to speak to a health coach about your health goals go to http://bit.ly/lincs_residents
If you would like to read more about micro changes you can read my first blog here https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/post/micro-change-monday-week-1
Chris Laming, Physical Activity Practitioner
June 12, 2020