Wondering what the heck a calorie budget is? Well, just like we all have budgets to help our financial health stay on track, a calorie budget can help us keep our healthy eating goals on point by focusing on calorie density, and making the most of every single bite.
And, when used correctly, your calorie budget can be one of your most powerful tools in completely transforming your health through the power of healthy eating.
Let’s take a closer look at what a calorie budget is and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is a Calorie Budget?
Basically, a calorie budget is how many calories you should consume each day in order to help you reach your health goals.
Since calorie intake is going to vary dramatically based on things like weight, height, activity level, and how much weight you want to lose, it’s best to plug everything into a calculator. You can use a calculator like this one from Precision Nutrition to see how many cals you need to eat and burn per day for successful weight loss.
Three Secrets to Use Calorie Budgeting & Calorie Density As a Weight Loss Secret Weapon
Ok, so now onto what you really want to know—how to use a calorie budget as one of your biggest weight loss and healthy eating secrets, without starving yourself.
Here are three secrets you’ll want in on.
#1 Focus on Calorie Density
While calorie budgeting can definitely help you stay on track with your weight loss goals, not all calories are created equal, and calorie density matters. Calorie density is the measure of calories in a food in relation to the weight and volume of the food itself.
Why does this matter? Because eating foods with low-calorie density can actually help you lose weight by keeping your calorie budget low, while still packing in foods that are loaded with nutritional value.
Some great foods to choose that will keep your calorie budget tight, and your nutrient intake high include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and cauli)
- Lean meats and fish
#2 Fill Up on Fiber
A little known secret is that fiber does much more than just keep your gut happy and healthy, it’s also amazing for sticking to your daily calorie budget and keeping calorie density in mind with your healthy food choices.
Try filling up on fiber-rich foods that have a low calorie density to keep you full and nourished, but without putting your daily calorie intake over your limit.
Some delish fiber-rich foods include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark leafy greens
#3 Choose Nutrients Wisely
It’s also worth mentioning that you want to eat a balanced diet with different macros to help fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. When focusing on nutrient-dense options, you can keep calorie density and your calorie budget in mind, while also getting enough fat, protein, and carbs in your diet.
And, while fats are going to be higher in calories than things like lean protein (lean meats and eggs), they are still an important part of a healthy diet. Just be sure to keep your fat choices clean, so you get the best bang for your buck with each and every bite.
Some great healthy fat choices include:
- Wild-caught salmon
Note: Just remember that fats are much more calorically dense, so keep portion size in mind. Stick to a three-ounce serving of wild-caught fish, ⅓ of an avocado, and ¼ cup serving for nuts.
Here’s How to Make Your Calories Count For Every Meal
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Let’s put this into real life. Here are some delish and nutritious food options to choose from for every meal.
When you choose whole and real foods, it’s much easier to stick to your calorie budget and make conscious low-calorie density food choices to nourish your body, while also supporting your weight loss goals.
- ½ cup of oatmeal with blueberries and a teaspoon of raw honey.
- A veggie omelet with a few slices of avocado and herbs and spices of choice.
- A large salad with a salmon filet or a chicken breast and a tablespoon of pecans.
- Roasted turkey breast served with lettuce leaves as the “bread” topped with sliced avocado, tomato, and onion.
- Chicken, turkey, or tempeh served with ½ cup of cooked quinoa, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a side of broccoli.
- Turkey tacos served with lettuce leaf cups and topped with salsa and guacamole.
Healthy Snack Choices
- Celery stick with almond butter
- Apple slices with nut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- Blueberry smoothie made with almond milk, collagen protein, and dark leafy greens
Make the Most Of Your Calorie Budget
Since not all calories are created equal, it’s essential that we make the most of each bite we take. When using low-calorie density foods to our advantage and keeping our calorie budgets in check, it may become easier than ever to watch those last stubborn pounds melt away. Plus, with healthier food choices comes better overall health, so make your calories count, it makes a massive difference in overall health.