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1. Avoid gluten and sugar
I swear, if you cut those things out of your daily diet, you will notice an immediate change in weight and energy. Our bodies don’t handle sugar well.
As a beer home brewer, I know that taking barley or wheat and letting it sit in hot water for an hour converts the starches into sugar. Beer is sugar water with alcohol. So I always imagine my body as a mash tun (the vessel used to heat up grains to convert them to wort, which is beer before it has alcohol).
It’s a shame, but gluten and sugar products are cheap. They’re cheap because it’s easy to make, readily available, and everybody wants it.
1. Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables are the best thing you can put into your body, and they grow right out of the ground! If you are serious about losing weight, you need to learn how to love your vegetables. This might take some experimentation.
I found that I love spinach with roasted garlic, and I don’t mind eating it every single day. Both spinach and garlic are great for you, and spinach has so much fiber that it will keep you filled for much longer than a bowl of cereal will. This is why I decided to eat it as my first meal.
I also experimented with homemade salsa that I used to fill omelets, but I quickly realized how much of a pain it was to make, so I decided to make my life easier with spinach.
If you want to seriously save money, grow your own veggies.
This is a tough spot for me since I consider myself a liberal. On one hand, the way they mass produce meat makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve watched every food documentary on Netflix. On the other hand, it’s fucking delicious.
I know this is not for everyone, but in order to keep my conscience clean, I decided that I’d rather pay more for meat that I feel has gone through the proper channels of manufacturing. I buy grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and organic pork.
1. Eat more vegetables, all of the time.
It’s that simple, I promise! If you think about making any meal mostly veggies (at least 50% of anything that you’re having), you’re on the right track to better health and weight loss.
Start your day with a cup of joe. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage. You can have up to 400 mg — about a venti Starbucks coffee — daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn’t exist, but many of us still can’t resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem:
This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn’t, let it go.
Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
5. Skip sugary beverages.
I’ll admit that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but not because of the time it’s normally eaten (morning), but because I like eggs.
Before the 20th century, breakfast was mainly for the rich. They would host hunting parties that sometimes lasted several days, and served up to 24 dishes.
The invention of the corn flake by John Harvey Kellogg, sliced bread, and the toaster, all started in the early 20th century, and marketers needed to sell these products.
That said, I eat breakfast foods, but not until I’m hungry. Sometimes I’ll wake up hungry right away. Other times, I won’t eat until noon. And when I eat, I skip the processed foods like…well…cereal and toast.
As I’ve learned, bread is not a whole food. It has to go through a process before we humans can digest it. You can’t take wheat out of the ground and eat it, so it makes sense that our bodies aren’t adapt to eating this type of food.
Instead, I eat cooked spinach, eggs, and sometimes I’ll treat myself with fresh sausage or organic bacon.
This is my first meal of only two.
I’m glad I asked. Because I only eat two meals a day consisting of only whole foods, I drastically reduced my grocery bill.
Now before you criticize, let me share with you exactly what I buy and what I eat everyday. I’ll warn you that this probably won’t work for everyone, but I suggest that if you’re trying to lose weight and save money, you need to serious adjust your mindset.
I spent roughly $70 a week in groceries and I eat breakfast/lunch and dinner every single day. My shopping list includes:
- Eggs ($2.99)
- Egg whites ($3.99)
- 3 bags of frozen chopped spinach ($4.50)
- A jar of roasted garlic for spinach ($2.99)
- A pound of sausage or bacon ($6.99) — I buy the good stuff
- 4 bags of pre-chopped, pre-washed lettuce (mostly romaine) ($8.00)
- 4 cucumbers ($4.00)
- Balsamic salad dressing with NO SUGAR ($3.99)
- 8 organic chicken breasts ($30.00)
Now, you might be thinking that’s quite a lot of money for a single man to eat only two meals a day, but I choose to shop at Whole Foods and actually pay for REAL food. Sure, if I ate a box of cereal every morning, I would save more, but then I wouldn’t lose weight and feel better.
On the other hand, if I had to buy enough fresh food for a week that included three meals a day, of course, the cost would be a lot higher.
You’ll notice there are no drinks in that list. That’s because I only drink water (and coffee sometimes — but I don’t buy it every week).
With this list, I eat an incredibly healthy breakfast/lunch — that keeps me full for at least six hours — and a salad with grilled chicken for dinner. I don’t snack because I don’t keep snacks in the house.
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Since I started on this very strict, yet satisfying, meal plan, I consistently lose about 10 pounds a month. And truthfully, I still enjoy a day or two where I’ll eat sushi or pizza or pasta, and I love my beer so I can’t go too long without indulging in the nectar of the gods once in a while. But this plan that I loosely follow has allowed me to drop a significant amount of weight.
With weight loss comes a shit ton of benefits.
For one, my clothes fit better. I no longer have to spend extra money shopping for bigger clothes. You could argue that bigger clothes means more fabric, means more loads of laundry, means more laundry loads…and it all adds up.
I generally feel better. I don’t have to eat as much and I have way more energy everyday. My work has even gotten better because I’m not taking a bunch of breaks to eat. For me, more work = more money.
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You can eat healthy on a budget. If you can’t lose weight, these are the actions I recommend:
I’ll admit that you might be thinking this all seems like a way to make your life more miserable. It doesn’t have to be, but as I mentioned before, it’s going to take some mental shifts on your end. With that, here are some things I encourage you should do:
We just don’t feel full by liquid calories in quite the same way as we do real food. Drinking a juice or caramel coffee drink just isn’t as satisfying as eating a bowl of veggie- and protein-packed stir-fry.
So monitor your intake of juice, soda, sweetened coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages. If you consume each of those beverages during the day, you’ll have taken in at least 800 extra calories by nighttime — and you’ll still be hungry.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they’re eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long haul.
Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal or use a regular notebook. It’ll help you stay accountable for what you’ve eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it’s written out in front of you.
Don’t get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people’s metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you’ve stopped moving.
Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash a piece of fruit and pack of nut butter in your car or purse and keep snacks in your office desk drawer — anything that will keep you from going hungry!