Eating carbs at night makes you fat. Eating too much fruit makes you fat. Eating fat makes you fat. Skipping meals makes you fat. Snacking makes you fat.
Above are just a few common fat loss myths. The truth? Eating more than you need will cause weight gain. So, all you really need to do to lose fat is consume fewer calories than you spend.
One way to make sure you do this is by tracking the foods you eat – but in reality, not all of us have the time or inclination to do this. A simpler way to achieve a calorie deficit is to make smarter choices, including healthy food swaps. These reduce the need for a complete diet overhaul, which can be pretty overwhelming. Small changes like the ones below are much more manageable and sustainable in the long-term. If fat loss is your goal, give them a go and let us know what you think!
And don’t worry – there’s absolutely no need to remember the number of calories in foods or get caught up in calorie-counting – the numbers included in the blog are just to give you an idea of how swapping certain foods for others can help you to achieve your goal.
Rice is a perfectly healthy grain to eat at lunch or dinner – but if you’re trying to lose weight, then swapping it for cauliflower rice could help you to maintain the calorie deficit needed to achieve your goal. One cup of rice has about 200 calories (204 for white rice, 216 for brown rice). In contrast, cauliflower has just 25 calories per cup.
One serving of pasta contains about 260 to 300 calories. Swapping it out for spiralized veggies, for example in a Bolognese dish, could save you lots of calories – there are only 30 calories in a serving. And what’s more, there’s far more nutritional value in spiralized veggies than there is in pasta.
When you fancy a sandwich, make it an “open” one and use just one slice of bread instead of two. It’s still filling, you won’t miss the extra slice – and depending on what bread you’re eating, you could save a couple of hundred calories. When making your sandwich, opt for healthier types like rye or wholegrain.
One tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120 calories, compared to just 5 in olive oil spray. That’s a pretty big saving!
Some salad dressings, especially those that contain ingredients like egg, cheese or cream, have around 200 calories per serving – swapping this for a low-calorie alternative like mustard or balsamic vinegar can really make a difference to your daily calorie intake.
Two scoops of Ben and Jerry’s contains between 250 and 300 calories, as well as 14 grams of fat. And if you give in to temptation and polish off the whole tub (come on, we’ve all done it…) you’re looking at a whopping 1,250 calories and 70 plus grams of fat…
Banana ice cream is a great non-dairy alternative. Simply peel, chop and freeze two very ripe bananas, then chuck them in a food processor until they get the creamy texture of ice cream. Add some cinnamon or vanilla essence for extra flavour. Low-cal, fat-free, but sweet enough to satisfy those ice cream cravings without going over your daily calorie limit. And even if you have a big serving, it’s much better than a big serving of full-fat, dairy ice cream.
Another alternative to ice cream is plain yoghurt – add in some mashed up frozen berries for flavour and, if you need it, a touch of Stevia for some sweetness. Other things you could add in for flavour include cinnamon or vanilla.
Sounds weird, but trust us. Chop some grapes or strawberries in half, chuck them in the freezer, and if you get a craving for something sweet, reach for those instead of something unhealthy.
As well as making healthy swaps, think about the balance of your plate. Of the three different macronutrients, protein is the most filling – so upping your intake can help to minimise cravings and keep your diet on track. If you want to learn more about macronutrients, check out our Introduction to Macros and Micros blog.
One really important thing to note is that when you’re cutting back on calories, you should focus on making sure that your calories come from whole, nutritious food sources. In this way, you can make sure that you’re getting plenty of vitamins and minerals, too. Avoid “skinny” or “fat-free” versions of foods, as these are often laden with sugar or chemicals to make up for the lower fat content.
So, if you’re trying to make a spaghetti bolognese healthier, you could cut out the pasta and use spiralised courgette instead, and add some more beans or vegetarian mince to increase the amount of protein in your meal.
If you need any more inspiration for healthy swaps, have a chat to one of the team! All of our instructors are expert PTs with training in nutrition.