Easy food swaps for weight loss
Want to learn how to eat healthier but not sure where to start? When it comes to adopting healthier eating habits, it's crucial that you take into account both calories and nutrition. Why? Because both go hand-in-hand and are essential for healthy living. It's important to keep in mind that "weight loss" doesn't equal nutrition. These food swap tips are meant to help you achieve a more nutritious diet that may have the happy side effect of weight loss.
One technique to easily cut down on unnecessary calories and increase the amount of nutrition you consume is by substituting popular foods (which may not be the healthiest) with healthier food choices. In general, you should consume calories from protein and fiber that are all-natural. Try to buy 75% of your foods from the produce aisle. Here are my 10 easy tips for swapping less healthy foods with healthier choices:
- Replace store-bought dips with fat-free sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt. You'll not only save on calories (148 in two tablespoons of ranch dressing vs. 20 in fat-free sour cream or 15 in non-fat Greek yogurt) but also get essential nutrients, like protein and calcium.
- Switch out high-calorie spicy mayo with your own homemade version. Simply combine fat-free mayo with some drips of hot sauce.
- Make your own dressings. Use extra virgin olive oil as the main component. Combine olive oil with either lemon or vinegar to provide an all-natural, heart-healthy option. The olive oil will also aid recovery and provide your daily dose of healthy fat.
- Trade in romaine lettuce for baby spinach, which is high in iron and vitamins A, C, E, K, and calcium. On average, a 180g serving of boiled spinach contains 6.43mg of iron—as much as many types of meat. Spicing up your salad with baby spinach will give you a broad spectrum of nutrients.
- Avoid high mercury fish. Pick chunk light tuna over white albacore, which has lower mercury levels. And instead of grouper, swordfish, and mackerel, choose salmon, catfish, scallops, and trout.
- Swap regular soy sauce for the low sodium version (1005 mg of sodium per tablespoon vs. 533 mg). Or you can use organic rice vinegar, which is entirely sodium-free. High sodium intake can lead to bloating and heart disease, so be sure to follow a low sodium diet.
- Choose whey protein whenever possible over rice, soy, or hemp protein.
- Trade in ice cream for frozen berries topped with fat-free whipped cream. Not only are berries high in antioxidants, but this combo is also low in calories.
- Choose wine over sugary drinks. If you must drink alcohol, choose wine in moderate amounts and pass on cocktails with sugary additives.
- Say no to frozen or pre-made meals. When it comes to frozen food, only frozen vegetables are okay.
Remember that the key to achieving your nutrition goals is to focus on eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods, such as lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Again, you need both calories and nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrated trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master's degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.