If you’re serious about losing weight then you know you’ve got to think about what food you are putting in your mouth. While regular exercise is important, you aren’t going to lose a great deal if you don’t change what you eat. When it comes to weight loss, the important thing to think about is what foods will give you more bang for your buck. If you are eating something that has high calories, but doesn’t contain any minerals, vitamins or fibre, then you might as well not have eaten it. All you are satisfying is your taste buds. Your stomach will be asking for more very soon after. You are probably aware that you shouldn’t eat junk food and sugary drinks, but there are some regular food items that might not be as obvious.
1. White Bread/ White Rice/ Pasta
A salad sandwich or some sushi? They sound like healthy alternatives don’t they. Compared to a Big Mac, they are the healthier choice, but if you are serious about losing major kilos then you need to make an even better choice. White bread and rice are refined carbohydrates, so whilst they are giving you well needed carbs, they aren’t giving you anything else. Without fibres and key nutrients, the carbohydrates will be converted very quickly, leaving you feeling hungry for more soon after. “A surge of insulin can then result in low blood sugar, which makes you hungry again,” she says. “Insulin is a storage hormone, so when a lot is released, we end up storing most of those calories as fat [if not used for energy],” Alissa Rumsey, RD.
SWAP IT WITH: Instead eat brown rice, wholemeal/grain bread, whole grains or wholemeal pasta.
2. Flavoured Yoghurt
Yoghurt sounds healthy doesn’t it? A little bit on your cereal or a snack in the arvo to keep you going is almost a good choice… but unfortunately there’s a good type and there’s a bad type. “Flavored yogurts, even the innocuous vanilla variety, can pack nearly 30 grams of sugar per 6 oz. serving. That’s more sugar than ice cream! Excess sugar can lead to weight gain so avoid the flavored varieties and stick with plain Greek yogurt,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD.
SWAP IT WITH: Check the label and choose wisely. Plain yoghurt with your own added flavourings (berries, fruit, honey, & seeds) will cut down the sugar content a long way. Plus you will be adding extra fibre and nutrients to keep you fuller for longer.
3. Fruit Juice
It can all sound so confusing! Fruit is meant to be good for you right? Not the store bought – you might as well have a soft drink. Even the 100% fruit varieties are wasted calories as the pulp is all gone and there is no fibre for your stomach to digest… so you will be wanting more food (which brings more calories) again very quickly. If you are serious about losing weight then you need to go one step further.
SWAP IT WITH: If you’re out and about and you are keen for a juice, head for a juice bar and check there are only whole fruits and vegetables added. Always opt for water first or a soda water with a bit of lemon to quench your thirst. At home, invest in a blender that will keep all the fibres in your drink. Use protein powders to fill you up and legumes/oats to thicken up your smoothies. It’s best to just eat the whole fruit so that your whole digestive tract is moving and working for it’s nutrients. The simple act of chewing an apple is calorie burning in and of itself.
4. Salad Dressings
Salads are your best friend. They are great for filling you up and giving you all the fibre and nutrients you need. A rainbow salad a day keeps the doctor away! So don’t undo all that healthy choice eating with a salad dressing. Event the ‘low fat’ varieties are going to work against your weight loss journey. They are usually high in sugars and high in fat. You need to think smart.
SWAP IT WITH: There are other ways to dress your salad to help it go down. Include a wide variety of veggies like corn and beetroot whose sweetness can make your salad really yummy. Add some olives for a little extra flavour. Include healthy fats like avocado and sprinkle in some flaxseeds on top. If you really need something else, use a homemade dressing with olive oil, vinegar, cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Alcohol is enjoyable and good for stress release. However, consumed in large quantities or regularly can really have a negative effect on your weight. Unfortunately alcohol contains empty calories, with no extra benefit to your body. “When alcohol is present in your body, it’s considered a toxin that your body wants to get rid of, and becomes you liver’s top priority,” says Caroline Cederquist, MD. So, when your liver is working hard to detox, it can’t burn fat as well. Plus, alcohol it has an effect on your judgement, which makes making healthy decisions a lot harder. You can get relaxed and just blow all that hard work all week on one night out.
SWAP IT WITH: If you are really serious about losing weight that you can’t shift, skip alcohol altogether. It’s just empty calories you don’t need. If you are keen to enjoy just a little with friends, get to know your alcohol and choose a low calorie variety. Only have one – savour it well, and then enjoy a soda water and lime for the rest of the night.
Losing weight is hard! Join us at AJ’s to surround yourself with people on the same journey as you. Share struggles, share meal ideas and share your encouragements. Remember to make nutrient-dense food decisions and cut out those empty calories!