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Four 'Calorie Bargains' That Will Help You Stay Slim

Trying to lose weight? Here's some food for thought. What if Americans were as conscientious about "spending" the calories on their bodies' daily budgets as they are about spending their hard-earned dollars? According to Charles Stuart Platkin, author of the new book "The Automatic Diet" (Penguin Group, 2005), there is a set number of calories in the body's budget for the day. So how do we make the most of our "finances," calorie-wise? The answer lies within the pages of "The Automatic Diet," where readers discover that all successful dieters share a common secret to consistently maintaining their weight: They do not have to think about what they are doing. Their food choices are automatic; they already know what to eat to keep off the weight. One of the key secrets is "calorie bargains": foods that are low in calories but still taste great and satisfy our strongest urges. They are substitutes for the "higher-priced" foods we tend to eat. Here are a few of Platkin's picks: * I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spray (5 sprays: 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 carbs). This spray is a great way to accent food and is a tasty alternative to both butter and oil. "You can spray it on toast, popcorn, vegetables. I use it on almost anything," Platkin says. It is easy to control portions and even if you get up to 25 sprays (more than enough for a baked potato), it is still a clear calorie bargain and has no trans fats. Conversely, 2 tablespoons of butter have 204 calories and 23 grams of fat. * Jolly Time Yellow Pop Corn (5 cups, popped: 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 24 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fiber). Popcorn that you pop yourself is a perfect high-fiber snack - you get loads of food, yet it is still low in calories. * Miss Meringue Sugar Free Vanilla Meringue Cookies (13 cookies: 35 calories, 0 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber). Have a sweet tooth? These are a good guilt-free alternative. They have no fat, trans fat, cholesterol or lactose. * Low Fat Kettle Krisps Hickory Barbeque Chips (1 ounce: 110 calories,

1.5 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs). With 40 fewer calories than regular chips, these are a great alternative for chip lovers. - NU


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