For the African, cutting calories is quite easy. Our meals come in insanely high calories, so it is very easy to start cutting down.
Take for instance one ball of a small Ga Kenkey (boiled maize dough, 400 g, pictured). It has a whopping 1,440 calories!
Think about it, the total daily requirement is 2,000 calories for the average person, and just one ball of Kenkey is 1,440 calories.
After adding meat and stew you are tallying between 2,000 and 2,200 calories!
So by even reducing the Kenkey by a third of its size, (cut Kenkey into 3 parts, consume 2 out of the 3 pieces) you can cut out 480 calories easily. In addition, by reducing the amount of the oil in the stew or cutting down on the meat or fish, you would have exceeded the 500 calories we are trying to cut out.
Even better is to avoid Kenkey as much as possible.
Kenkey is a great meal for Ghanaians in Ghana, where we walk to the store, the church, and to visit neighbors.
However, in America, or the Western world, our reduced physical activity doesn’t allow for us to consume such high caloric meals.
Now, let’s consider white rice: 1 cup of cooked rice brings in 240 calories (1 cup of dry rice is 720 calories).
The average person can easily consume 4 cups or more of cooked rice, which comes up to 920 calories!
The average tomato stew is 250 calories for ¼ of a cup. 1 fried chicken drumstick is 200 calories. The average person goes for two. (By the way, the total protein requirement in a day is the size of two drumsticks…yes!)
So we end up with 400 calories from the chicken and 1,570 calories for the entire meal!
Again, with that meal, we have gotten daringly close to the average of 2,000 calories needed in an entire day.
By cutting the rice down by 2 cups, we would have saved 480 calories. And by reducing the amount of oil in the stew by just 1 tablespoon per serving, we save an extra 600 calories.
This brings us to a very important point, which is increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts in our daily foods.
I call them “hunger breakers.”
Always have an apple, a mango, a cup of strawberries, or a Ziploc of blueberries on you. Other options can always be a small bowl of almonds or walnuts. They serve as a much better alternative to cookies and some other “junk food” we use as snacks.
Consuming fruits and vegetables and making them part of your daily life brings untold benefits. For a start, their fiber content creates a feeling of fullness, which cuts down your overall caloric intake from other sources, such as rice or corn.
Fiber is also known to hold on to sugar and fat molecules, preventing their absorption from the gut. By this, they decrease the glycemic index of sugars and starches, they decrease bad cholesterol, and increase good cholesterol.
They also protect you against heart disease, stroke, and several cancers and have a number of antioxidants that detoxifies your blood, reducing cell damage and inflammation.
This ultimately prevents cancers and a myriad of chronic diseases.
Getting on the Scale
When purchasing a scale, I recommend using an electronic one so you can see the decimals as well.
Now since this method implies you will be losing some weight every day, you will have to get on the scale every morning.
When you get on the scale each morning, you should see some drop in your weight like 0.05 pounds. Sometimes, in my case, I could lose about a pound a day depending on how much I cut.
If your weight is not going down on the scale, it indicates you did something wrong the day before. You either overate, ate too late, or sneaked in some dangerous McDonald’s or Burger King.
But by checking your weight daily, this allows you to fix your mistake in a timely manner. Some people recommend getting on the scale every 1 or 2 weeks, but then you will have no idea where you went wrong.
So here is my challenge to everyone, cut down your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 a day and lose 1-2 pounds a week for 6 to 8 months.
You are guaranteed to lose 20 to 30 pounds on just the diet part and increasing your physical activity will cause you to lose even more calories.
As a caveat, if you are not seeing the needed results, you may have other issues playing a role that I will address in my next article.
BY SAMUEL ANTWI-BOASIAKO