USDA Calorie Cutting Tips

Grazing and Boosting Nutrients

Luckily for you, we've got a seemingly-endless supply of calorie-cutting tips. Let's jump right back in with a look at more ways to trim your waistline.

Grazing Is A Good Thing: Eating small, frequent meals and snacks keeps your metabolism revved up. Continually eating small amounts of calories throughout the day will reassure your body that food is not in short supply, so it can keep humming along at a rapid rate. A faster metabolism burns more calories. Keep yours going by eating three small meals and two small snacks each day.


The foods you choose need to be nutrient-dense -- low in calories and rich in nutrients. Eat small amounts to stay within the calorie limits of your selected food pattern. Eating frequently also ensures you won't get overly hungry and then binge on high-calorie food or whatever's on hand. Don't skip meals. Eat small, eat often.

Here are some more grazing tips:

  • Eat something within two hours of getting up. It doesn't need to be an entire meal, just a few calories to let your body know that starvation is not imminent. This keeps your metabolism running at a faster rate. People who skip breakfast continually lower their metabolism to the point that they can gain an extra pound every seven weeks without eating any extra food.
  • Partially prepare your breakfast the night before so you don't run out of time in the morning and skip it.
  • It's better to eat three modest meals and two small snacks or mini-meals instead of eating one or two large meals. Make sure your meals have foods from every food group and that snacks have foods from at least two groups. Make wise choices so that you stay within your calorie allowance.
  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Eat before you get excessively hungry.
  • Prepare lunches the night before to take with you. Bringing your lunch ensures that you have something healthy and low-calorie to eat during the day, and it saves you time, money, and calories.
  • Toss extra food into your lunch bag so that you have healthy snacks to graze on.
  • Grazing is good, but avoid eating late at night. Set a time limit for yourself, about one hour after dinner, and do not eat after that time.

Boost Your Nutrients: By selecting nutrient-dense foods, you'll meet your body's requirements for vitamins and minerals. Adequate nutrient intake may make you less likely to crave certain foods and overconsume calories. And it will help metabolize stored fat and ensure a healthy weight loss. Nutrient-dense foods are low in calories. Make it easy for yourself to choose these types of foods rather than other, higher-calorie foods. There are more ways to boost your nutrients:

  • Make a snack basket in your refrigerator. Fill it with small bags of prewashed and cut vegetables for easy eating. Add containers of light yogurt, fruits, and low-fat cheese sticks for quick healthy snacks.
  • Fill up on nutrient-dense foods first, leaving less room for higher-calorie foods. Serve salads and soups as a first course -- you'll soon find that you're content to eat small portions of the higher-calorie main dish.
  • If you have to grab something on the go, choose items that aren't fried, creamy, or full of sugar. Look for the fresh stuff--salads and fruit bowls with low-calorie toppings.
  • Put away foods that are treats -- out of sight is out of mind -- hopefully!
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods that are as low in calories as possible (the leanest or lowest-sugar versions). This will leave a little room for discretionary calories -- those foods with added sugar or fat or alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat with an eye toward balancing your calorie scale. If you overindulge in discretionary foods or even in nutrient-dense foods, don't get frustrated. You can regain your calorie balance by increasing the amount of calories you burn. If you know you can't be active on a certain day, skip the discretionary calories.

Eat Mindfully: Paying attention to what you eat and eating it deliberately satisfies your senses and, ultimately, your hunger. When your mother advised you to chew your food thoroughly and put your fork down between bites, she was right. It's those types of behaviors that keep you tuned into what you're eating. Focusing on food increases the fulfillment you get from it. Have you ever eaten an entire meal or bucket of popcorn, then suddenly realized there's none left -- but you hardly feel you've eaten and you're still hungry? This is exactly the type of scenario you can avoid by eating mindfully.

Turn off the television, put away your book, and pay attention to your food. Eat slowly and deliberately. You'll find you'll feel fuller and more satisfied on less food, which means taking in fewer calories. More tips on eating mindfully include:

  • Eat sitting down rather than gulping food over the kitchen sink or in front of the refrigerator.
  • Eat in a designated eating place -- not in front of the TV.
  • Make an event out of your meal so that your meal feels more significant and fulfilling. Set the table attractively and include a simple centerpiece, even if you're eating alone.
  • Think about the taste and texture of your food. Chew slowly. Take small bites. Savor the flavor. Put your fork down between bites.
  • Make pleasant conversation at the table, and don't talk with food in your mouth -- this will slow down the rate at which you eat.
  • Check in with yourself -- are you getting full? You don't need to feast at every meal. No need to get as full as after a Thanksgiving dinner! Just get satisfied, then stop eating. It takes about 15 minutes for your stomach to signal the brain that it's no longer hungry. By eating slowly, you don't overeat before your body has time to send up the "full" flag.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.