Your body uses calories for basic functions, such as breathing, sleeping and making blood. The food you eat is broken down and used for energy which comes from carbohydrates, protein and fat. Spread your snacks and meals out throughout the day so your body has a continuous supply of the energy it needs to support your activity level.
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Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
You should eat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day, according to MyPyramid.gov. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense foods which means they provide many nutrients for minimal calories. A medium-sized apple is a healthy afternoon snack that provides 100 calories. You can also have a small banana, a medium Asian pear or 1/3 cup of dried apricots. Each of these fruit portions contains 100 calories.
For dinner, you can enjoy 1 1/2 cups of chopped, steamed broccoli, 1 1/4 cups cooked carrot slices, 1 1/2 cups of sauteed green beans or one small baked sweet potato. Each of these provide 100 calories. Adding fats such as butter and oil will increase the calories from your serving of veggies.
Consuming lean meats will allow you to have larger amounts if you are eating 100-calorie portions. Lean ground beef contains some fat which increases the calories. A 1.5 oz serving of ground beef provides 100 calories while a 2.5 oz. serving of skinless chicken breast also has 100 calories. You can also enjoy 3 oz. of baked cod, six jumbo shrimp or 2.5 oz. of light turkey meat which each provide 100 calories. Eat 5 to 6.5 oz. from the meat group each day.
If you are cooking at home and trying to shave a few calories, cook your meats with a non-stick spray instead of oil. This will help keep your calories to a minimum. You can also add fresh herbs to your proteins to add flavor without increasing the calories.
A 100-calorie snack food portion includes two reduced-fat graham cracker rectangles, eight saltine crackers, 12 almonds, 20 peanuts or 3 cups of low-fat buttered popcorn. These snack items are simple foods to keep around the house. Portion them into plastic bags on Sunday nights. Throughout the week all you have to do it grab one of the bags and keep it in your bag for an afternoon snack.
Some dairy foods are high in fat which increases the calories, but you can choose low-fat options to lessen your caloric intake. Drink 8 oz. of 1-percent milk, sprinkle 1 1/4 oz. of low-fat mozzarella cheese on your salad or enjoy 2/3 cup of plain low-fat yogurt at breakfast. Each of these milk foods provides 100 calories. You should consume 3-cup equivalents from the dairy group each day.