In a new study from Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that people who cook their meals at home eat healthier and eat fewer calories than those who cook less. They also suggest that people who frequently ate at home also ate fewer calories when they did dine out. When people cook at home, theyll tend to choose fresher ingredients and use less sugar, fat, and processed ingredients, regardless of their dietary goals.
When people eat out, however, they can covertly add hundreds of calories to their daily intake (even at healthy places). Restaurants often add gobs of butter and olive oil to foods to make them more flavorful — and while theres nothing wrong with those fats, consuming them in large portions with your food will sneak far more calories into your diet than youd like. Worse are the less-than-healthy places that use refined oils, lots of sugar, and MSG, which are associated with plenty of health problems.
But what if youre lazy and dont want to cook at home?
This, I get. Sometimes you cant be bothered making dinner, especially if youre dining by yourself. Try making one huge dinner and storing the rest in containers for the next few nights or cooking all your meats on Sundays and Wednesdays, storing them, and adding them to your dinner along with fresh veggies. Heres another tip: instead of going out to eat with your partner, take a night in and cook together — itll make food prep and cleanup a lot more entertaining.
What if youre a bad cook?
Think of it like boxing: you learn the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut first before getting complex and trying to fight Mike Tyson. Same with cooking. All guys need to do is master a handful of simple, healthy, and delicious meals, says Chef Ryan Rondeno, a LA-based celebrity chef. Choose meals that use simple ingredients and that you can prepare in just a few minutes. Makes sense to me — who wants to buy saffron for the one time youll ever use it?
Oh, and want more flavor than boring chicken, broccoli and rice? Chef Rondeno suggests using healthy oils like walnut, almond, coconut or avocado oil to add depth and flavor to your dish. He also recommends using alternative spreads like hummus (instead of mayo) to make healthy sandwiches or using different spices to add a tasty kick.
As for the times when you need to eat at restaurants, try little tricks to prevent yourself from consuming a lot of calories: ask for the salad dressing on the side, tell them to take away the bread before it arrives, and order foods that are grilled and baked.
Until then, Ill be figuring out how to boil water a mile above sea level.
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a regular contributor featured in Golf Digest, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle&Fitness. Follow his blog, They Didnt Teach Me This In College."