It is that time of year again; when fitness clubs and gyms nationwide are awash with the New Year’s Warriors in full force. I see the trend every year; as soon as the New Year starts, going to a gym feels like you are fighting the crowds on Black Friday morning.
Thankfully this trend dies quickly and February the majority of these January-Gym-Joiners have lost motivation to continue. Today, we’ll help you stick to your objective with a selection of great nourishing 600 calorie meals. What most people do not understand is that losing weight and getting “in shape” involves more than hitting the gym several times per week. Any bodybuilder will tell you that 90% of your results come from your nutrition.
As a personal trainer, I have learned that the number one reason most people discontinue their new gym habit is not seeing results fast enough. What these people do not realize (and refuse to believe) is that the real key to success lies in the kitchen.
Weight loss, like weight gain, is a slow and gradual process. It simply does not happen overnight. It boils down to a mathematical equation: Calories expended must be less than calories consumed to create a long-term caloric deficit, or in simple terms, you need to burn more calories than you are eating. For example:
Ashley is eating 1500 calories per day and decides to start treating herself to a nonfat 16-oz strawberry smoothie from Starbucks (300 cal.) as an afternoon snack during the workweek, that is an additional 1500 calories per week (300 cal. x 5 days per week).
In order to lose a pound of fat, there needs to be a loss of 3500 calories. However, at this rate, Ashley is on the track to gaining 1 pound every 2.5 weeks, or roughly 2 pounds per month, 24 pounds in one year, just by having that 300-calorie “healthy” smoothie. Now let’s analyze Ashley’s eating habits:
- Breakfast: 300 calories
- Lunch: 400 calories
- Dinner: 500 calories
TOTAL: 1500 cal./day
If Ashley starts walking during her lunch break for 30 minutes and she walks at a moderate pace, she will be burning about 100 calories each day (100 cal. x 5 days per week= 500 cal.), averaging a 500 calorie deficit per week.
This may not seem like much, but if she continues this habit for a month, she will have burned 2000 calories in a month by simply walking 30 minutes during the workweek. Keep in mind there is 3500 calories in a pound of fat.
Ashley will lose 1 pound every 1.75 months (about 2 months).
This is a very gradual weight loss which will help keep the weight off, but if she combines her new walking habit with replacing her daily bagel for breakfast (300 cal.) with a ½ cup of oats (150 cal.), she will be creating a weekly 1050 calorie-deficit by simply changing her eating habits. Combine this with the walking, and she is on her way to losing nearly 2 pounds each month or 24 pounds per year.
Here’s a short video showing 5 very simple low calorie meals.
An easy, 600-calorie breakfast would look something like this:
- 1 cup of oats = 300 cal.
- ½ grapefruit = 50 cal.
- 4 egg whites= 80 cal.
- 1 small plain Greek yogurt with 2 Tbsp. flax meal = 170 cal.
TOTAL: 600 calories
An example of a well-balanced lunch that would fit the 600 calorie meals plan:
- 5 oz. of chicken breast = 150 cal.
- ½ cup brown rice = 150 cal.
- 2 cups of mixed vegetables = 100 cal.
- 1 Tbsp. of Promise vegetable oil spread on vegetables = 50 cal.
- 20 almonds = 140 cal.
TOTAL: 600 calories
This lunch should keep Ashley feeling full until dinner, which should be no more than 4 hours after lunch. If she were to follow the plan and eat a 600-calorie dinner, her dinner would help prevent late night snacking.
An example of an easy 600-calorie dinner looks something like this:
- 4 oz. salmon sautéed = 200 cal.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil for sautéing= 120 cal.
- 1 medium sweet potato = 150
- Individual microwavable bag of vegetables = 120
TOTAL: ~600 calories
It is important to note that each meal should consist of primarily vegetables, a source of lean protein, and healthy fats. Vegetables can be eaten in unlimited amounts and should mostly include green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, etc. Lean protein sources include tuna (light or chunk), chicken and turkey breast, tofu, and all types of white fish and they are all perfect as a part of 600 calorie meals.
Fat, which is responsible for helping us feel full, should include sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, almonds, avocado, and flax seeds. Carbohydrates should be limited to vegetables, fruit, and the occasional unprocessed grain foods like brown rice, quinoa and oats.
By combining daily exercise and sticking to a basic eating plan (including 600 calorie meals), you will lose weight and keep it off in the long run. Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you miss a day at the gym or you eat a cinnamon bun, just get back on track.
For much more on healthy weight loss see the pages on Why Bread Makes You Fat as well as Cutting Carbs to Lose Weight and please let me know what you think if you make any of these 600 calorie meal recipes up for yourself.