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Cutting Calories by the Hundreds

Since my surgery last week, I have come up against the caloric wall. You just can't just drop 400-500 calories a day from your daily diet by walking a few miles a day. I am mad that I can't get out there and run a 5 or 10K; it could be weeks before I can do anything other than walk or spin at a low heart rate. (Need to keep the cardio under 120 BPM for healing purposes - otherwise the throbbing will kill me.)

After nearly a week of IDGAS eating, it's time to take control. I apologize for being a bad example. Without the use of one hand, I have to rely on foods prepared by my wife or some evil corporation. Everything labeled bite size is junk.

My main calorie cutting tools are replacing the bad with better and cutting out the atrocious stuff such as saturated fats, junk calories (that don't target other macros that I need) while controlling portions! What's tough is the guidelines that I received from the nutritionist for sodium, protein, fat, carbs and fiber!

Here is what I am doing to stay in the 1600 calorie range.

- Breakfast Sandwich: I am back to a breakfast sandwich with Thomas' WW Mini Bagel, 1 cage free egg (cracking then with one hand like Rachael Ray Wolfgang Puck!), 1 turkey sausage (because I can't cut fish or bait) and a slice of all natural low-fat Swiss cheese. 329 calories. That save about 80 calories over most cereal and keeps the protein up.
Net Calories: 329

- Vitamins and Supplements: 100
Net Calories: 100

- Morning Snack: Reduce the size of my Apple Raspberry fruit salad by dropping the apple. I can't cut the apple, and it loses me about 80 calories along with the carbs that go with it. I still have the Greek 0% plain yogurt, the mixed frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and black berries), the walnuts and the sprinkle of dried cranberries. 320 down to 240!
Net Calories: 240

- Lunch: This is the tough one. I can't make much of anything but a sandwich. I really hate to eat cold cuts because the sodium is BAD! Bread is a little tough to handle, so I got some Joseph's Flax, Oat, Whole Grain Tortillas. However; today, I had my wife cook an extra chicken breast and cut it up. Add a few florets of broccoli and I am good. Either way I am at 300-400 calories.
Net Calories: 300

- Afternoon Snack: I dropped the banana saving about 100 calories. I like them because they keep the leg cramps (along with water) to nearly none! I know that pickles are full of sodium, but two spears is virtually NO calories. Sodium is 210 and I have 2000 per day I can have.
Net Calories: 4

- Dinner: I always do well with dinner when we eat at home. Being unemployed this is how it's going to be for the time being. It's 4 oz of lean beef, pork, chicken, or fish. then we add some veggies. 400 calories is easy.
Net Calories: 450

- Desert: I am not giving up my chocolate. (250 cals) But I am willing to cut out one piece for a savings. substitute watermelon a few times a week to save 100 calories.
Net Calories: 160

Daily Caloric Total: 1593 (I probably have a little wiggle room at dinner, but not much!)

So tell me, how would you cut 400-500 calories from you daily "budget" if you had to?

Thanks for all the votes and comments!

50 votes + -


cbmcphillips wrote 120 months ago:
i'm already at 1390 allowed ..... would have to give up mid morning break snack if push came to shove or my what the heck plan.....
SmexAppeal wrote 120 months ago:
When I did decide to cut more calories I dropped the banana out of my smoothie, switched to almond milk, and now eat fat free cottage cheese and low fat yogurt. Cutting cals can suck, but if you gotta do it, at least you are doing it well! Good luck to you!!
cessnaholly wrote 120 months ago:
I drop the chocolate and protein bars. Or opt for a low-fat cheese stick rather than a yogurt or cup of milk. Not stuff I'd drop out forever but for a while it would be ok.
Bobby_Clerici wrote 120 months ago:
do what you need to do -Keep punching
Nerple wrote 120 months ago:
Mine's easy, I'd drop drinking coke.
happypath101 wrote 120 months ago:
I'm short, don't have much to lose, and have a sedentary job - I'm at 1200. Sigh! I exercise a lot and usually eat back some if not all of the calories. But, here's some of the things I've done lately:

* Start drinking my coffee black. (Tea too.)
* Little to no bread aside from my sacred morning (low cal/low fat) toast.
* Dip my apples, celery, banana, whatever in PB2 instead of having some peanut butter.
* Little to no processed sauces. Whatever I have is on the side.
* Carry a big bag of carrot sticks with me at all times. Munch on these and other veggies as much as I can.
* Only have water when I eat out. (Still working on this one. I really like my Green Tea Iced Tea with Subway on Tuesday and it's only 130 calories....)

Sorry about all you've been hit with lately. I hope you come out of this time stronger and healthier than ever!
jms3533 wrote 120 months ago:
Good advice and help. I just needed something crunchy to add to my lunch, and so I remembered I had some matzo cracker sheets in my desk drawer from a while ago. These things age well, and are only 100ish calories a large sheet. Filled me up, with a crunch, and little calories.

I too have to cut out bananas now and then. I didn't realize that they can help with leg cramps...I might have to add them back in.
barefootbeauty wrote 120 months ago:
I cut dairy. Cheese, milk, etc. If you're eating vegetables and taking suppliments, you should be getting all the calcium you need from that.

Good luck! :)
kjdhappy wrote 120 months ago:
Don't know that I could cut the cals - btw 1200 and 1400 now - but I sure could get rid of some of the "junk" and add food that actually adds value to my diet - this is my biggest issue - no you really don't need that "100 cal snack" that is really just a bag of chemicals!! Pick a fruit or a veggie fool!"
You are doing a GREAT job - don't get discouraged and keep writing!! It will help you and selfishly the rest of us!!
Angie80281 wrote 120 months ago:
I have a good amount of wiggle room with my diet because I eat at maintenance and have an increased caloric intake to build muscle. However, if I were unable to work out for an extended period of time due to injury, I could never keep eating like I do now. So assuming that... I'd cut my Pure Protein bars and just keep my whey shakes with almond milk (same amount of calories but 10 g more protein in the shake). I'd cut out my 1% milk (usually 2 cups a day plus maybe a cup in cereal) and just use almond milk if I had cereal.
Denjo060 wrote 120 months ago:
I am down to 1330 a day so I would cut back on my frozen yogurt bars which are either 100 calories for the strawberry or 80 calories for the chocolate. Id take the fat free cheese out of my breakfast and lunch that is 30 for each slice and Id hate to say it but id have to gove up the wine and or tequila (sobbing)
Good luck with this one John but I have faith in you Toull get it done!!
SusanDoesIt wrote 120 months ago:
Like some of the others said, I'm not at a point that I could cut that many...I just reduced mine recently because the scale was stuck. I'd probably cut portions of carbs a bit more, stick to lean protein and veggies.
SusanDoesIt wrote 120 months ago:
Just noticed you count your supplements...didn't even THINK to look at oil alone is 45 cals a day. Dang. Thanks for the info.
5pmsomewherenow wrote 120 months ago:
Here's a great alternatiive to an egg muffin sandwich at less calories:
Cabot American Cheese Slices, 0.5 Slice 35 cals
Jones Dairy Farm - Brkfst Ham Slices-Fully Cooked, 1 Slice 25 cals
Fiber One - English Muffins - Light Wheat Multigrain 100 Calorie, 1.Muffin 100 cals
Eggs - Fried (whole egg), 1 large 90 cals
Total is 250, and I find the American cheese 1/2 slice melts nicely to cover the whole egg-muffin.

Try a large salad at lunch with 3-4 oz of lean protein. I suggest Marie's Yogurt Dressings, most are 40-50 cals per 2 TBLS, and taste the best. Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard, Creamy Feta and Parmesan Ceasar.

Best time of the year to walk -- at least it's not FEB. Your body will be burning calories in the healing process - don't underestimate the fuel needed to rebuild. Good luck.
annabellj wrote 120 months ago:
lose the fruit for sure. all the fiber one brownies, and add veggies for snacks since they are virtually calorie free, celery, cucumber, etc. i can eat a whole cuke and be full. lots of lettuce instead of pasta or extras for dinner. egg whites instead of cereal or bread or rice cakes. no pb! wah!
mommaPeach72 wrote 120 months ago:
I recently had surgery, and was surprised at the meals they were serving me. I asked my doctor about it, and he said that an increase in calories is necessary for proper healing. I found a link that helps explain:

Hope you are back to being ship-shape soon!!
oliviadaughter wrote 120 months ago:
I cut my banana out of my breakfast and eat about 5 strawberries instead I cut out my ice coffee with skim milk, unless I get the urge for it Instead of two scrambled whole eggs i now boil 2 eggs and eat the whites I also cut my portion size of steel cut oatmeal closer to 1 cup instead of a bigger serving of 2 cups My breakfast was to loaded with calories
DirtyStacks wrote 120 months ago:
You can easily burn 400-500 calories by riding an exercise bike. Just pedal slower/less resistance to keep your heart rate down. I put a recumbent bike in my living room. I ride while watch tv or surfing web (read:MFP Forums) on an iPad. Most bikes come w/ hrm, which might be in accurate, but close enough to keep you at a comfortable hr but still burn those cals. Caloric burn rate will be slower, but you can still burn the cals by just riding longer.
Jujubie wrote 120 months ago:
I cut drinking milk.
MissMormie wrote 120 months ago:
I'm not sure what type of surgery you underwent, but I've broken my elbow last weekend and severly hurt my wrist. I've found that cutting an apple is still doable.

As I've also hurt both my knees I'm not able to do any exercise for the next 6 weeks or so. Struggling with the same question as well. Where do you take out the calories you don't need anymore? I started at 1600 kcal and now aiming for 1400-ish.

For me it's changing out the sandwich in the morning for somewhat more oatmeal. Saving 50 kcal. I'll skip one of my normal two pieces of fruit for another 50 kcal. During dinner I'll skip the potatoes, which is close to 100kcals saving.

As someone mentioned earlier you also need some calories for your body to heal itself. Perhaps staying at the same weight is your best bet at the moment?
maylene1853 wrote 120 months ago:
i eat about 1200 calories a day. here are sample meals of mine...

1/2 cup ff cottage cheese
1 table spoon smuckers strawberry preserves mixed in
topped with 2/3 cup dry cereal (today banana nut cheerios)
this totaled about 165 calories

or packet reg oatmeal with splenda
cup rf milk
scoop vanilla whey protein
370 calories

weight watcher wrap
3 large egg whites
ff mozzarella
spinach leaves
smart beat mayo
a slice thin n trim turkey breast
a very filling 269 calories

cup spinach
can white albacore
1/4 cup ff feta
2 tablespoon greek vinagrette
145 calories

salad made of iceberg lettuce
4 large egg whites, one yolk
small chopped apple
drizzled with reduced fat ranch dressing

250 calories

Kiwen34 wrote 120 months ago:
What I have done to drop 500 calories or so from my diet was instead of snacking on an entire bag of chips, I keep sliced cucmber around. It provides the crunching that I crave, while leaving me with little to no calories, and only 1 carb for 1 cup of cucumber.

For sweets, I have been replacing my chocolate with either berries, or apples. This way I'm satisfying not only my crunch addiction, but also getting that sweet tooth off my back. At least with the apples. The berries add a different texture to my palete instead of the melted goo of chocolate. Plus they are sweet naturally, so no need to eat them with anything keeping the calorie counts down even more.
felicity866 wrote 120 months ago:
my favourite things got the chop when i started on this journey...carbs and dairy...i now only drink water unless it is a special night out somewhere...then i plan ahead for a glass or two of wine!
FatCopThinCop wrote 120 months ago:
I would just eat everything that is concidered to be Clean. Lots of Vegies, 4-6 oz of chicken preped in differant ways, Grilled is my Fav. Stay away from all processed / prepackaged foods, and not a drop of Soda or Beer, Wine, ect..

I also would not go out to eat. Not that I do much now but that would go for a long time.

As far as the bike and walking, Keep that up. Spin, Walk, it's all good David. Doing something is always good for the body, mind and spirt.. It also helps you think clearly. Nothing is better than a good walk to get you right in the head. Idea's come out when you have "ME TIME" . So, don't give that part of your day up.

Keep fighting, things will come your way David.. Watch a film called, "The Secret" then go have a walk.. Tell us what you learned David. It's on DVD or Netflix.

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