Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Creating a Calorie Deficit

I finally got some momentum going again with my weight loss. I had been at a stall for months, and was really getting frustrated. I don't know why I waited so long to implement a calorie restriction. I think I was biased against it because I lumped it in with low-fat dieting. Like "Oh yeah, I want to feel hungry all the time and be miserable just to look good in a swim suit".

What I learned rather quickly though, was that the hunger is temporary. As long as you consume the right types of foods, you can safely ignore a small amount of hunger. Your body may feel hungry when it really doesn't require calories. Perhaps this is the time you usually eat a snack, or you are dehydrated, or you didn't sleep enough last night. There are many reasons you might feel hunger, and it's not necessarily your body telling you that it needs more food.

Once I got my mind around this, it was easy to get through the 3-day transitional phase where my body was trying to get me to eat like I usually do. Unfortunately, how I usually eat translates to maintaining my current size and shape. After those three days, I stopped feeling hungry between meals.

In order to determine how many(few) calories I would need in order to create a deficit, I started by calculating my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your BMR is the number of calories you burn just by being awake throughout the day, basically. It is based on age, weight, height, and gender. Not the most concrete of calculations, but neither are calories! So, close enough.

1) Calculate your BMR
Here is an easy BMR calculator:

2) Determine your caloric needs
The next step is accounting for how active you are throughout the day. One common method for this is to use the Harris Benedict Equation (found here):

Harris Benedict Formula
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
 3) Create a deficit
You want to create enough of a calorie deficit to actually lose weight, but not so much that you are starving yourself. A general guideline for this is to have a deficit between 500 and 1000 calories each day. If you have more to lose, you can venture closer to the 1000 mark; but if your body fat is getting quite low, stick to a 500 calorie deficit. As for a minimum calorie intake per day, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends women not consume fewer than 1200 calories and men not consume fewer than 1800 calories per day.

So, for me right now, my BMR is around 1700, my caloric need is around 2300, and I'd say I have a good amount to lose still: my daily calories are 1500. I don't have a reliable scale to measure weight, however my measuring tape has informed me that in the last couple of weeks I have lost half an inch around my hips and waist, as well as tiny improvements in my arms and legs!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

KETO: Desserts! Low Carb Peanut Butter Cups and Vanilla Cream-filled Cupcakes

Quick post today for some low carb treats!

Both of these dessert recipes are fantastic. I could enjoy them whether I was doing keto or not!

Keto Peanut Butter Cups

These ketogenic peanut butter cups are super rich and have lots of tasty fat; very filling. They have a fantastic smooth texture and are all-around delicious!

Low Carb "Little Debbie" Zebra Cakes

These cupcakes are light and sweet, and definitely tasty. They take a while to make - only because you must freeze them before frosting them! The agony of waiting :-)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

KETO: (Better) Zucchini Lasagna and Chicken Parmigiana

Here are our combined recipes for a recent Low carb Italian-themed dinner night!

(Better) Keto Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

Found here.

The last time I made zucchini lasagna, the result was tasty but quite liquidy. This recipe turned out much better for me, and I can't wait to make it again! I admit, we totally bought pre-made tomato sauce instead of making our own. It was still outstanding regardless. I can only imagine it would be even tastier with home made sauce. Other than that, no substitutions were used.

Keto Chicken Parmigiana

 From the always-wonderful Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes.

We had a solid Italian entree, but still needed more protein. My husband thought of this! This is one of those recipes where you can easily enjoy it whether you are low-carb or not. It doesn't have that giveaway "substitution" taste or texture. LOVED it. No substitutions! 

Lazy Low-Carb Mozzarella Sticks

Apparently, our goal this night was to eat four days' worth of calories. And we achieved it! So tasty though. We had leftover "breading" from the chicken parmigiana, and we had string cheese. Naturally, we tested out mozzarella sticks. 

6 Mozzarella Sticks 
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2-2/3 cup of "breading" from Keto Chicken Parmigiana
Olive oil
Marinara Sauce

*Dip each mozzarella stick into the egg, then coat with the low carb "breading" and place on a cookie sheet.
*After all are prepared, freeze them for ~30 minutes.
*Then, warm some olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and brown the mozzarella sticks for a few minutes on each side.
*Serve with marinara sauce!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


As the new year steadily approaches, I find myself trying to come up with the "best" resolutions in order to make the most out of 2014. In reality, each day should be a day for me to improve myself in some way or other. As human beings, we have the potential to continue to be better and better.

If you aren't trying to improve, then what are you doing? Is there really nothing you could do better at?

To make the most out of your new years' resolutions, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

Too generic - any goal you set should be specific. I think this is the most important part of your goal. "Lose weight" is far too generic. How much weight? By when? How will you accomplish this? One of my resolutions is to lose 3 inches around my hips this year, and I have planned out a dietary and exercise plan.

Unobtainable - Can you actually achieve what you set out to? It should be a challenge, but one that is in the realm of possibility.

Too easy - the other end of the spectrum is that your "resolutions" are ridiculously easy. They should be doable, but with a good amount of effort.

In any case, say you want to improve yourself, but not necessarily set resolutions. That doesn't mean you will remain stagnant. Often, the biggest overall improvements start with little changes. Small steps that add up over time. If that's more your style, I highly recommend it.

Resolution: Lose Weight/Get Healthy
Small changes to reach this goal: 

  • Eat the healthier parts of your meal first (fill up on the good stuff).
  • Eat more green, nutrient-dense vegetables. 
  • Drink 8 cups of water in a day. 
  • Replace soda with water. 
  • Go for a walk 3 times a week (to start).

Resolution: Fix up the House
Small changes to reach this goal:

  • Replace the sink gasket.
  • Fix the toilet seat cover.
  • Paint the living room.
  • Organize the kitchen cabinets.
  • Install shelves in storage closet.

Honestly, it all depends on what you are currently doing. Just do a little bit better each week and it will really compound into HUGE results over time!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


It has been quite some time since I posted some pictures of my little guy here.

Most times I get the camera out, this is the picture that I end up taking! 

Laughing at Daddy

 Trying to take a family photo with the little goofball! 

Keto and Breastfeeding: Introduction

A while back my husband began what he referred to as the Ketogenic diet. The Keto diet is similar to a Paleo or caveman diet, with slightly varied restrictions. Basically, you give up almost all carbohydrates from your diet. This includes all sugars and starches (even from fruit and whole grains).

Over time, with the abundance of carbohydrates in our daily diets, our bodies have grown used to using carbs as our fuel source. And why shouldn't they? Carbohydrates are about the easiest thing for our bodies to utilize that we can consume. As you may know, when you eat carb-laden foods, you get a burst of energy right away. This energy is short-lived, followed by what is often referred to as a "sugar crash". The point of the Keto diet is to switch your body's fuel source to burning the already-existing fat stores on you. (More information on KETO)

When he first described it to me, hoping I would join him, I thought my husband was crazy. Me? Give up my favorite breads, sweets, and most of my favorite fruits? Good luck! However, as he continued it (and with great success, I might add) I started looking into the specifics of Keto. After researching a bit, I decided that it was worth a shot. I dove right in with a six-week stint (and documented my experience here) and I was convinced! Because I found very little information regarding breastfeeding women on a ketogenic diet, I decided to try to post as much as I could about it!

Update: Over a year and a half later, I still stand by the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle.

If you are a breastfeeding mother with a child over 4 months minimum (I'd recommend 6 months if you've had supply issues), I say go for it, all in. If your child is younger, or you've had some recent issues, I recommend you go into maintenance mode - which basically means you restrict yourself to 100 grams of carbohydrates in a day, rather than the typical ~25. By doing this, you will be going through a less-drastic change, and will be less likely to have a huge impact on your body. In any case, you might consider starting at 100 grams, and slowly decreasing that over time if you are hesitant!

If you would like to view some tips on beginning (or maintaining) a ketogenic diet while breastfeeding, click through to my other post here: Breastfeeding and the Keto diet TIPS

KETO: Cheesy Chipotle Cauli Casserole and Zucchini Flapjacks

Time for a couple more recipes!

Cheesy Chipotle Cauliflower Casserole (I breathe...I'm hungry)

This dish is fantastic. We will be making this again next week, I can guarantee it! Since my little guy is sharing most of our meals, for his portion I skipped salsa and jalapenos, and added a little extra sour cream for the heat of the chipotles.

Zucchini Flapjacks

We had some extra zucchini one week and I had to use it up before it spoiled. I had occasionally seen recipes for zucchini flapjacks and decided to wing it and try to make some myself!

You will need:
~3 cups of shredded zucchini - spread between two towels and squeeze as much liquid out as possible
1 egg
1/2 TBS onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 TBS butter
Sour cream (optional)

Mix the zucchini, salt, pepper, and onion powder, and stir together with the egg.
Heat a pan on medium-high with some of the butter in there. Each flapjack was a couple of tablespoons of zucchini mixture.
Heat for ~3 minutes, then carefully flip over.
Cook for another 3 minutes or so, then set on a warm plate while you cook the rest.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream!

Did you try these recipes? Tell me what you think!