People like to overcomplicate weight loss. They think they need some magical exercise program that involves triple clap pushups, reverse planche or one-legged burpees.
Others think they need to hire a personal trainer who looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his best days, or count their macro nutrients gram by gram. This is not true.
Many people think they need to change absolutely everything in their life and completely transform their daily routine if they want to achieve weight loss, better health and more energy. But in reality small tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference.
Try some of these painless little fixes and see how a few small changes can create a big result for you!
1. Replace sugar with stevia:
This important step will help you avoid blood sugar crashes that lead to tiredness and cravings for unhealthy foods.
Some people opt for stevia instead of sugar because of the lower calorie count. But it’s not about the calories! One teaspoon of sugar contains only about 16 calories.
The reason it should be avoided is because concentrated sugar spikes your blood sugar levels, followed by a sugar low later. This robs you of energy, makes you crave unhealthy foods and not feel your best.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that contains an abundance of nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and iron.
I’d like to note that stevia has a distinct flavor that not everyone might love at first. When I first started using it, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but I must say the taste grows on you. You’ll get used to it, and later if you try anything with regular sugar in it, you’ll feel the flavor is too acidic and unpleasant.
Some studies have shown that stevia may help improve insulin sensitivity and, therefore, is suitable to people who suffer from type 2 diabetes and anyone who want to balance their blood sugar levels.
Use stevia instead of sugar in your tea, coffee or other sweetened drinks. Use a combination of stevia and sweet fruit, like fresh dates or ripe bananas, to sweeten your desserts. Fruit contains fiber and other nutrients that slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream so it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as concentrated sweeteners do.
2. Include Tabata training:
Have you ever said you don’t have time for exercise? Yes, you might not be able to spend two hours in the gym five days per week, but I can almost guarantee that you can spare 12 minutes per week for working out!
Yes, only 12 minutes. This means three Tabata sessions per week.
Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training that takes only 4 minutes per session. Intervals are quick, 20-second bouts of heavy exertion (to the point where your breathing is very labored), followed by 10 seconds of rest – repeating the cycle a total of 8 times. Whether you jump rope, ride your bike or do other cardio, studies have shown that the Tabata protocol seems to help your body continue to burn calories long after you finish your workout.
3. Start your morning with fiber and nutrient-rich green drink:
More than two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese in the US, yet many are not getting enough nutrients with their food. Eating overly processed, nutrient-poor food might satisfy the body’s calorific needs, however, the body needs to get enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients that only natural whole foods can provide. If your body is lacking nutrients, it might make you hungry forcing you to overeat.
Therefore, it’s important to include fiber and nutrient rich foods in your diet. One of the best ways to do it is to start your day with super nourishing and filling green smoothie.
To make a simple green smoothie, add some sweet fruit like bananas, some berries or raw cacao, dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, water or almond milk to your blender and blend well. You can add some additional superfoods like spirulina, chlorella, turmeric, maca or wheatgrass powder to boost the nutrient value of your morning drink.
Leafy greens and fruit are high in fiber and nutrients, thus will keep you full and nourished. If you get hungry quickly after having your smoothie, it means you’re not drinking enough! Add more bananas and other ingredients to your smoothie.
4. Get up and move every 30 minutes:
Metabolism slows down¹ if you stay in a fixed position for 30 minutes. Set an alarm on your Outlook or your phone to remind you to get up and away from your desk every half an hour.
Do some stretching, walk around the office, roll your shoulders back and forth, or simply stand up and move while talking on the phone. Movement also helps balance blood sugar levels, improves the circulation and gets your oxygen flowing.
5. Sauté vegetables in water:
Just as avoiding refined sugar is important, so is avoiding unhealthy trans fats found in fried and processed foods, margarine and shortening and anything with “partially hydrogenated” fats. You should also avoid saturated animal fats. Although there has been a lot of controversy about them lately, the evidence² suggest that they might not be safe for your health.
Canola, vegetable, soybean and corn oils are marketed as “heart healthy” oil choices for cooking and baking. However they mainly contain PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), which oxidize when heated and become rancid. Rancid oils are toxic³ and cause inflammation in the body. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and American Heart Association, chronic inflammation might cause diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, food intolerances, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease and in some cases even cancer. It also accelerates the aging process.
Simply sauté your veggies with water! You can also steam them or bake in the oven using a little bit of water instead of oil.
Once your food is cooked, you can then add healthy fats to your meal in a form of avocado, raw nuts and seeds or a little drizzle of cold-pressed unrefined oil, e.g. coconut, olive or avocado oil.
6. Replace bread and other baked goods with vegetables:
Refined flour found in bread and other baked goods gets converted into sugar in your bloodstream pretty rapidly. Just as refined sugar, it causes blood sugar highs and lows, which in the long term might lead to excess weight gain, insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes.
There’s something about bread that keeps a lot of people addicted, whether it’s gluten, bread’s crispy texture or the sugar rush effect it has on the body. Many people find it difficult to have a small piece of bread, therefore it’s best to avoid it altogether and replace it with healthier options.
Another reason why you might consider avoiding bread and other flour products is because a diet of refined foods leaves your body malnourished, constipated, enervated and vulnerable to chronic illness.
Simply replace your bread, pasta or other baked goods to veggies like pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, beets, carrots, zucchini, etc.
You can bake, steam, sauté or boil them. When prepared well, veggies are absolutely delicious and will leave you nourished and satisfied.
7. Go for a walk immediately after meal:
Walking immediately after a meal will help you balance blood sugar levels. As you already know, stable blood sugar levels are vital for maintaining a healthy weight, feeling energized and avoiding cravings.
After you finish your lunch or dinner, go for a brisk, 30-minute walk. Because walking is a low impact form of exercise, it shouldn’t cause any digestive distress.
Studies show that even low impact exercise might prevent metabolic syndrome and its drawbacks on your health.
Another great way to improve your health and burn extra calories is to “force” yourself to walk by parking your car a block away or getting off the bus or train a stop earlier. Also, don’t forget an opportunity to take the stairs instead of an elevator! This might not seem like much, but all extra movement adds up and makes you healthier and slimmer!
8. Replace dairy or store-bought plant milk to home-made plant milk:
The dangers of dairy to one’s health are pretty widely known nowadays and many people are turning to plant-based milk. However, store-bought plant-based milk are often very processed and contain many additives like refined sugar, oils, carrageenan, flavorings and preservatives.
It’s very easy to make your own plant-based milk! You can find a simple step by step recipe here.
9. Have vegetable soup for dinner:
Consuming soup can enhance satiety and reduce energy intake. Due to their high water content, liquid foods like soup make you feel fuller and satiated.
In a study when soup was consumed, participants reduced meal energy intake by 20%.
Moreover, vegetable soup is full of minerals, vitamins and fiber, which keep your body nourished and functioning well.
10. Practice sensual, distraction-free eating:
When you eat while watching TV or a YouTube video, scrolling Facebook or checking your phone, you’re not fully present.
We’re sensual beings and eat with all our senses: taste, sight, smell, touch and even hearing (think crunchy food)! When you’re distracted during your meal, you might fill your belly and get all the calories you need, but your brain does not register the full eating experience. Thus even if you’re full, you’re not completely satisfied and might find yourself marching to a fridge or cupboard for snacks after dinner.
When we’re distracted, we’re unaware of the food decisions we make. Practising mindful eating might help you make healthier choices, eat the appropriate portions for your body size and feel more satisfied with your meals.
Make your meal a beautiful ritual and experience: serve your food in beautiful plates, light up some candles (at least for dinner), switch off your gadgets, eat slowly and savor every single bite! Mindful eating can result in significant changes in weight and eating behavior.
Osha Key is a life lover, certified nutritionist, weight loss expert and the author of "MASTERY IN WEIGHT LOSS",
which you can get for FREE when you visit her website www.becomethebestofyou.com and subscribe.
After losing 40 pounds, Osha is now on a mission to help women do the same.