While complete diet makeovers can be overwhelming, focusing on simple changes makes eating healthy both manageable and sustainable over time. Instead of throwing your kitchen and eating habits, focus on making these simple food swaps to help reduce saturated fats, increase protein and burn a few extra calories.
Here are many of our favorite food and ingredient swaps:
1. Choose coconut oil or ghee – NOT margarine.
WHY? Coconut oil has many health benefits including improved hair and skin, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, healthy digestion and regulated metabolism. The benefits of ghee are also numerous – this clarified butter (yes – milk fat is rendered) is rich in vitamins, is lactose friendly, has a high smoke point, improves cholesterol and aids in overall digestive health.
2. Choose Greek yogurt with fresh fruit – NOT regular yogurt or yogurt with sugary fruit on the bottom.
WHY? Creamy Greek-style yogurt has nearly twice the protein of traditional yogurt – and, fresh berries add antioxidants. DID YOU KNOW? Nonfat Greek yogurt is also a great substitution in many recipes – it has far fewer calories and fat than mayonnaise or sour cream, but its consistency is quite similar. Next time a recipe calls for either of those fattening ingredients, try using the Greek yogurt instead.
3. Choose avocados – NOT mayonnaise.
WHY? There’s no reason to be afraid of eating fats — as long as they’re the right fats. Avocados are high in monounsaturated “good” fats, which help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and stave off heart problems. Oleic acid, a compound in avocados’ healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), may trigger your body to actually quiet hunger. Stick to a quarter or a half of an avocado. DID YOU KNOW? Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving – and they are a good source of B vitamins, which helps you fight off disease and infection. They also provide you vitamins C and E, plus natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.
4. Choose fresh goat cheese or feta – NOT regular or low-fat cheese.
WHY? The low-fat processed cheeses you’ll find in the dairy section are filled with additives and preservatives. Instead, opt for fresh goat cheese or feta. And – they contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may help your body burn more fat.
5. Looking for lactose-free options? Choose almond milk.
WHY? Almond milk is lower in both fat and calories than reduced-fat cow’s milk. Since almond milk is not an animal product, it does not contain saturated fat or cholesterol. If you are looking for a non-dairy option, almond milk is a great alternative. 6. Looking for a low fructose sugar option? Choose coconut sugar. WHY? Coconut sugar, more accurately coconut palm sugar, is made from sap of the coconut palm that has been extracted and then boiled and dehydrated. It provides the same number of calories and carbohydrates as regular cane sugar – BUT – coconut sugar is 70 to 79 percent sucrose and only 3 to 9 percent each of fructose and glucose. It is important to keep your fructose consumption in check.
7. Swap any beverage for Green Tea.
WHY? This steamy sip hydrates like water, which can help fill you up and shed pounds. Plus, the antioxidants in green tea will up your fat and calorie burn. One study found that five cups a day could help you lose twice as much weight, most of it around your middle.
8. Swap snack bars for a handful of almonds.
WHY? Many bars (snack bars, protein bars, meal-replacement bars) are loaded with calories and contain hidden ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. For protein without all of the fillers, a handful of almonds will do the trick. We know you all are working hard to stick to your New Year’s workout and weight loss plans… Keep in mind that sometimes small adjustments over time can have a big impact on your health (and your weight).