You’ve decided to lose weight, so you’re working out like crazy. And nothing… is…. happening. The effort is exhausting, yes?
The only way you’ll see results is if you’re lean. Exercise will only get us so far. DIET IS EVERYTHING. You must take in less energy (calories) than you’re burning. But, no one wants to count calories. And, unless you’ve calculated your basal metabolic rate, you don’t know how much energy you’re burning throughout the day.
About six months ago, I wanted to lose a couple pounds. But, I was already a healthy eater, consuming mostly a plant-based diet and eating fruit all day long — a couple pieces for lunch, for a snack, and for dessert. And aside from a couple of glasses of wine throughout the week, I wasn’t a big drinker. I didn’t know what to do to lose the extra weight.
But here’s the reality: A calorie is in fact a calorie. No matter where they’re coming from: fruit, soda, veggies, or chocolate, each one matters. I needed to find less caloric replacements for what I was eating, while not losing out on any nutrients.
We are told to eat our fruits and veggies, as if they’re both free foods. To test this theory, I decreased my fruit consumption and upped my veggies. I still consumed the same amount of food. In fact, the quantity I ate was much higher, because instead of having like 12 servings of fruit, I’d have one or two pieces and as many veggies as I wanted.
After two months, I’d lost 11 pounds.
Now this post is NOT about removing fruit from your diet! I don’t advocate that. The nutrition it contains is wonderful for our bodies. The point is, if you want to lose weight, the answer is replacement. Swap-out something less caloric for something you’re eating now. This is not a novel idea, I get that. However, as the title of this post suggests, it’s effortless.
Here are a few replacement ideas:
- Looking for a salty, crunchy snack? Try celery sticks with a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter or carrot sticks dipped in hummus;
- Craving something sweet and creamy? Pop a cut-up a banana in the freezer for a few mins, and top with unsweetened cocoa nibs, and a pinch of cinnamon and stevia (Sweetleaf is a great brand that also comes in individual packets);
- Love cereal? Try a high-fiber/high-protein cereal, made of legume flour (that actually tastes good);
- Want something chocolatey and sweet? Grab a small handful of coconut-sweetened cocoa bites; or
- Just like to munch throughout the day (like Yours Truly)? Make any veggie taste delish by sprinkling with Himalayan pink salt and dried herbs (I love dill and rosemary) or dipping them in mustard. Or, try my weird, dirty little secret, and make them slightly sweet by sprinkling stevia on them.
So, if all of this is true, then why can’t you just work out more to lose weight? Well, you can. But, here’s the problem: The average person would have to run an additional five and a half hours on a treadmill to burn just one, single pound.1 And most people would like to lose a lot more than one pound. Now, say you made the following substitutions in your meals:
-Cucumber slices with hummus and instead of a granola bar; and
-Steamed spinach at dinner instead of a baked potato with one teaspoon of butter
Without any extra exercise, counting a single calorie, or feeling deprived, every nine days, you would lose one pound. Call me lazy, but I’ll take that over five and a half hours on a treadmill any day.
With that said, I still advocate an active lifestyle for overall health (and sanity). This can be as easy as simply getting in your steps. I don’t do cardio, but I try to walk everywhere. There is clear evidence that everyone would benefit from getting at least 10K steps per day.2 I also try to lift very heavy weights at low reps to build muscle. (Don’t worry, no one’s getting bulky unless you’re adding in extra calories.) And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn while you’re just hanging with Rock and me.
What do you eat that you could replace?