If you’re looking to lose weight in January, you may be wondering where to start when it comes to food. With so much conflicting advice online and across social channels, it can be difficult to know how to approach weight loss in order to ensure results both short-term and long-term.
Weight loss must be safe and sustainable – if not, you could risk piling on the pounds when you begin to eat normally again and could damage your hormone levels and metabolism in the process. The good news is that with a little knowledge, some commitment and some new habits, losing weight during January doesn’t need to be difficult or confusing.
Why food swaps work
Lots of people feel deprived when they embark on a weight loss journey – they’re missing the foods they enjoy, and they’re hungry. Whilst this approach might result in weight loss, usually the pounds shed on a diet like this will simply return once you begin to eat normally again. This results in a cycle that can be hard to break, as well as having a long-term impact on your metabolism and overall health. Unfortunately many women adopt this approach only to find come February/March that the pounds are piling back on.
Instead of cutting things out, making smart food swaps is an excellent way to lose weight without feeling as though you’re missing out on your favourite morals and snacks. It also helps to create healthy new habits with very little effort and plenty of health benefits to enjoy.
Swap: Juices for whole fruits
Juices and smoothies can help us to get an intense it of nutrients from a variety of fruits and vegetables quickly and easily on the go – but they can be incredibly high in sugar and calories. When you swap juice for whole fruits you’ll feel fuller for longer and benefit from the added fiber which aids digestion and detoxification – two important factors when losing weight.
Swap: Sodas for naturally flavored water
Sodas are one of the worst culprits when it comes to sabotaging weight loss. Packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners and chemical flavorings – they wreak havoc on our health for various reasons including affecting our hormones. They also represent empty calories – so you’ll end up eating more and consuming more calories in the long run.
Fortunately it’s easy to swap out soda with healthier alternatives that won’t impact upon your weight loss goals. Try sparkling water with fresh lime and mint, or homemade peach iced tea if you need a refreshing sweet treat. Take a look at our deliciously healthy no-sugar drinks recipes here:
Swap: Coffee for herbal teas
Caffeine is often promoted as a weight loss aid – but too much can actually have the opposite effect – raising stress and anxiety levels and resulting in elevated cortisol levels. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also impact upon sleep quality – which is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy metabolism and weight loss. On top of this, latte lovers may find that large amounts of milk, creamer, sugar and/or sweeteners are adding significantly to your daily intake of calories and fat.
Limiting your caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day at the very least is a positive first step – but if you can, replace coffee completely with herbals teas, green tea or matcha – for a more sustainable caffeine high with added antioxidant benefits and no jitters or crashes.
Swap: Refined carbs for whole grains
This simple and easy swap can make a huge difference not only towards your weight loss goals, but also for your overall health. Refined carbs tend to be incredibly high in calories but are lower in nutrients. They also cause a spike in blood sugar which can lead to energy peaks and crashes through the day, triggering cravings.
Swap: Dairy for plant-based alternatives
Dairy isn’t an unhealthy food in itself – but although it can have good amounts of protein and calcium, it’s often high in fats and can have an inflammatory effect on the body even if you aren’t lactose intolerant. Eating too much dairy can also disrupt hormone levels which in turn can affect our ability to lose weight. By contrast, dairy free alternatives such as
almond milk are low in calories and fat and can help to lower inflammation in the body, supporting weight loss. Be sure to look for organic high-quality options that are not heavily processed or packed with added oils and sugars.
Swap: Excess carbs for more protein
One pattern which is commonly observed in overweight individuals is an over-reliance on carbs. Too many carbs consumed throughout the day and on your plate can quickly add up, eating into your calorie deficit and causing you to feel hungry more quickly. Swapping excess carbs and replacing them with more protein is an easy and satisfying way to help boost your weight loss. As a rule in quantity order you should be aiming for protein, vegetables, then carbs on your plate.
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