Are you ready to lose some weight but don’t want to stress over the process? There are some simple changes you can make that can help you lose weight pretty painlessly. These changes won’t yield sudden belt notching changes, but over the course of a year you could dramatically improve your health, be noticeably thinner, and have more energy, all without much effort.
Losing just 7% of your weight is life changing
There are easy ways to lose 7% of your body weight. As mentioned in the previous blog, losing just 7% of your weight can make your body’s own insulin work better. Insulin resistance is a condition where the body doesn’t recognize its own insulin. The body produces extra insulin in order to escort the glucose from our foods into our cells for energy. These high levels of insulin increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even dementia. Insulin resistance is a lifestyle condition caused by an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and genetics. But it’s reversible with just a 7% weight loss!
Nuts and bolts of losing weight
The best way to lose weight is to do so gradually. Any drastic changes in calories will slow your metabolism and put your body into conservation mode, thinking that it is starving. It’s much healthier to keep weight loss to about ½ pound to 2 pounds a week. Losing weight more rapidly will cause a loss of important muscle along with the fat. As we age, we all lose muscle mass (which is why strengthening exercises are so important); there’s not need to hasten this process through extreme dieting. Furthermore, losing muscle mass will slow metabolism even more.
There are 3500 calories in a pound. Cutting out 250 calories a day will lead to a half pound weight loss a week. And it’s so easy to find 250 calories. The first steps should focus on fat. Fat has more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein and foods high in fat are the simplest to change in your diet.
Choose from these simple diet changes
There are simple dietary changes you can make that will lead to a gradual weight loss without much effort. My suggestions do require some willingness to make some food substitution changes, but they won’t leave you feeling deprived.
Dairy choices provide a big opportunity to reduce calories. This includes milk, butter, cheese and ice cream. The next culprit is fried foods, condiments, dressings and high fat proteins. Chips, candy and sweets are also a big source of calories but I won’t even go into that. I’ll start with the low hanging fruits that are the easiest to change.
- Switch to a lower fat milk. Whole milk has about 150 calories in a cup. 2% has 125 calories. 1% has 110 calories and nonfat milk has about 80 calories, depending on the brands. Each 8 oz. serving of milk has the potential of reducing calories anywhere from 15 to 80 calories per glass.
- Make your butter whipped. Whipped butter is real butter that that’s been whipped to make it lighter. It has not other ingredients so it does not compromise taste. One tablespoon of stick butter has 100 calories while the same amount of whipped butter contains 50 calories. Being mindful of the butter-slathering can reduce those calories even further.
- Switch from full fat cheese to reduced fat. Cheese is nearly all fat. Some cheeses have 110 calories per ounce. A slice of American cheese adds 100 calories to that burger. Reducing portion sizes, not adding it to burgers or switching to a reduced fat brand can save you 30-50 calories per ounce. Sargento’s reduced fat Sharp Cheddar cheese sticks are tasty and have only 60 calories per stick. Alpine lace Swiss has about 80 calories per ounce.
- Change up your condiments and dressings. Mayo has about 50 calories per tablespoon while plain fat-free Greek yogurt has only about 7 calories. I like to mix the Greek yogurt with a nice mustard, which has only a few calories, to boost flavor. Switching even half of your mayo to nonfat Greek yogurt and mustard can save you hundreds of calories if you are making tuna fish or some other salad. Salad dressing is high in calories, especially if you are using the packets that come with many store-bought salads. Those packets of dressings contain over 200 calories per pack. Switching to a light dressing, or diluting your store bought dressing with water can save you up to 150 calories per salad. I prefer to put my salads in a large bowl, sprinkle about a tbsp of vinegar – which has few calories- a tsp of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, then toss well to coat. I get the flavor of the dressing without all the calories. Putting more emphasis on the vinegar will save you lots of calories.
- Make your own coffee instead of buying it and add froth. First of all, picking up a coffee often means picking up something tempting as well. If you buy your daily cup of java, making your coffee at home will save you at least $25 a week and depending on what you order – over 2000 calories. A Starbucks Frappuccino or a DD Coolatta has over 400 calories per serving. And all the flavorings add lots of calories and fat – on average 200 calories per serving. If you really want a tasty coffee that delivers less than 25 calories per cup try it my way. I was a half and half type of gal until I discovered the coolest invention of all times. The frother. Mine is purely mechanical and works best with 1% milk. With a few seconds of pumping low fat milk becomes a rich, creamy goodness for my coffee. I reduced my calories for each cup of java from 40 calories to about 20 calories. That adds up for someone like me who has 3 cups every day. I also grind my beans with my electric grinder to get the richest cup of coffee, fresh and cheap.
- Switch from premium ice cream to slow-churned, watch the portion and keep to the basics like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Slow churned ice cream has less fat, therefore fewer calories. Once you add cookie dough, candy or caramel, the calories go way up. All ice cream labels are based on ½ cup serving. If you’re an “eat out of the container person” I recommend you instead put your serving in a small dessert dish, use a small spoon and try to savor each spoonful. Keeping to the portion size, choosing traditional flavors and buying slow-churned can save you anywhere from 30 to a bazillion calories.
- Eat leaner sources of protein. Not only is there an association between the consumption of beef and processed meats to diabetes and cancer, but they are also high in fat and calories. You are much better off choosing poultry and fish. If you really are a beef lover, know that for each 5% reduction in fat of ground beef, you will save 45 calories. Four ounces of 90% lean hamburger has 150 calories while a 70% lean one has 380 – that’s more than twice the calories.
- Eat roasted instead of fried. This is a hard one for many. A battered, deep-fried chicken breast has about 530 calories, while a roasted breast with skin has 300 calories. If you don’t eat the skin, the calories go down to 185. Roasted, skinless poultry may not be as finger-licking good, but it can save you over 350 calories per piece. A good compromise recipe is to coat the poultry in a little bit of Greek yogurt, douse with an herbed Panko and bake in the oven. You will still get the crunch without the calorie punch.
Calorie reduction adds up
Cutting out 250 calories a day will yield a half pound weight loss a week. That’s 2 pounds a month and 24 pounds a year. For a 5’ 8”, 200 pound person with a BMI of 30, (in the obese range), their weight would drop to 176 and their BMI to 27 (not too far from a healthy weight). And just losing 14 pounds would make a 7% weight loss – greatly improving insulin sensitivity, taking the work load off the pancreas and decreasing the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Getting healthier doesn’t have to mean radical changes in lifestyle. Subtle shifts in what you eat will keep you from feeling stressed and deprived. Your body will reward you with much greater health, more energy and a slimmer waistline.