At the beginning of a New Year, dieting to lose weight is intimidating yet it is still a goal many, many people set. Instead, imagine eating foods you actually enjoy, foods that are nutrient dense, foods that make you feel better inside and look better on the outside. In 2017, if you make a commitment to eat for health, instead if dieting to lose weight, weight loss will come as a result. One way to do this is with simple “swaps.” Swaps can help you make (and see!) changes…without the struggle.
The awesome thing about the real food movement is that there are so many brands and companies out there making products that don’t even seem like a “health” food. From protein powders to tortilla chips, there is something out there to make sure you don’t feel deprived while you actually nourish your body.
Take all the foods you eat right now – your granola bar on the go, your morning coffee with cream and sugar, that afternoon Diet Coke, that bag of chips you give into after dinner – and switch them for some of my favorite, but still delicious, alternatives, and it will lead to big results in your health.
Protein Powders and Bars
Protein powders and bars are often loaded with hard-to-digest proteins like whey, casein, and gluten. Depending on the health of your gut and current diet, these can cause inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and are essentially recognized as “toxic” to the body. More toxins means more stress on the body, including the liver, and hinders our ability to lose fat. Powders and bars also contain soy and artificial sweeteners, which are ingredients you definitely want to avoid because they put you on that blood sugar roller coaster, leading to more cravings and energy crashes.
For protein powder, I recommend using collagen peptides. Collagen – the most abundant protein in our bodies – provides the building blocks for skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, bones, and joints. Two scoops a day is one of the best ways to help your body rejuvenate and stay youthful.
I recommend Vital Proteins brand because it is sustainably sourced from grass-fed animals to ensure a natural, high-quality, nutrient-dense powder. Throw two scoops of collagen peptides, half a scoop of greens, plus a little bit of stevia in your smoothie, and you’ll be good to go.
For protein bars, find those with five ingredients or less and have more protein than carbohydrates. A few of my favorite clean protein bars include RX bars, Primal Kitchen collagen bars, and Epic bars. Always read the entire ingredient lists, not just what the label touts on the front of the wrapper.
Soda and Juices
Sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and even store-bought green juices can lead to weight gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and a host of other issues. The aspartame in diet sodas can lead to even more cravings because it tricks our body into thinking it is getting nutrients along with the sweetness. This makes it highly addictive and nutrient-void. The sugars in fruit juices and green juices can spike blood sugar, followed up with a crash because there is no protein and healthy fat to stabilize our energy levels.
To transition, try Kombucha, which not only satisfies that carbonation craving, but also gives you a healthy dose of probiotics that are good for the gut. You can also have flavored carbonated water like La Croix, or mineral-rich Pellegrino. If all of these sound too crazy, just make the simple commitment to drink more water and less soda.
Conventional Dairy and Low-Fat Milk
Many people think they’re doing better by using soy milk or skim milk. Because of the antibiotics and hormones injected into conventionally raised cows, processed milk (especially low-fat and skim) can cause hormonal imbalances in our own bodies and disrupt the gut microbiome. This can lead to other issues like autoimmunity, allergies, and, ultimately, weight gain.
Instead, try dairy-free alternatives like coconut, almond, and hemp milk, without any added sugar or preservatives. This means finding brands that don’t come from a carton, such as Red Barn, Califia, and Native Forest.
Just remember: small changes, big results. From myself and all of us at Fitness on the Run, happy, healthy New Year!
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