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How To Eat Junk Food Without Gaining Weight?

Does this sound familiar – You vow to put in a mile or two on the treadmill every day and count every last calorie, but a few days later the diet is forgotten and you’re wolfing down pizza and guzzling beer with a group of friends? Draconian diets are tough to stick with. It’s better to make small changes in your daily diet than take an all-or-none approach. Losing weight is especially hard if you are one of those people that just can’t resist junk food. Here are some healthy swaps to help you get in shape without feeling deprived:

1. Burgers: A McDonald’s Big Mac has a colossal 550 calories! Add to that fries and Coke, and you’re looking at close to 1500 calories! Instead, make your own burgers at home using whole grain buns and lots of salad. Use healthy grilled patties and low-fat spreads with herbs to add flavor. Serve with oven-baked sweet potato chips brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

2. Pizza: A single slice of thick crust pizza packs in about 275 calories. Multiply this by 3 or 4 slices and add the calories from your drink, and you are overshooting your daily calorie count in just one meal. The alternative is to make your own pizza with whole grain flour for the pie (or use Lebanese bread), well-seasoned home-made tomato paste, low-fat cheese, and a generous pile of veggies.

3. Fried chicken: A small piece of chicken coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried contains as many as 250 calories. And who can stop at just one piece? Substitute this with chicken dipped in egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and herbs, and baked or grilled in an oven.

4. Fajitas and burritos: A chicken fajita burrito from Chipotle Mexican Grill can be a whopping 1200 calories! If you love Mexican food, but don’t want to derail your diet, consider a deconstructed burrito with lettuce, beans, avocado, and salsa. A serving of fresh tomato salsa has only 10 calories compared to the decidedly more substantial 230 in guacamole. Go easy on the sour cream and cheese and skip the rice.

5. Potato chips and dips: Snacking can be serious business. Just 100 grams of potato chips and cream cheese dip come loaded with 900 calories! Substitute with multi-grain pita chips, baked sweet potato or banana chips, and kale chips as healthier alternatives. When it comes to dips, hummus is packed with protein and yogurt with garlic and herbs is low in calories.

6. Cocktails: If you’ve been watching what you eat and are wondering why you’re not losing weight, you may be drinking your calories. A glass of Long Island Iced Tea has a massive 780 calories! Margaritas and Pina Coladas are no better and pack in close to 700 calories in every glass. On the other hand, a glass of red wine has only 75 calories and is heart healthy and loaded with antioxidants. Choose your drinks wisely, or better still, make yourself a refreshing Mojito with white rum, mint, lime juice and soda water, swapping the sugar syrup for a dash of brown sugar.

7. Muffins and Cakes: Grabbing a chocolate chip muffin at your local bakery can set you back by 500 calories. To put things in perspective, you have to walk at 4 miles/hour for an hour and a half to burn that off! Instead, bake some apple, cinnamon, and oat bran muffins that are heart healthy and delicious. Experiment with dates and prunes as natural sweeteners and use healthier ingredients like carrot, ginger, banana and walnuts in your cakes and muffins

8. Biscuits and Cookies: When you absentmindedly stuff a Hob Nob or Bourbon biscuit into your mouth, you’ve devoured close to 70 calories, and a 100 gram serving of butter cookies is a gigantic 500 calories. Cereal and granola bars are loaded with whole grains instead of butter and sugar. Other options are muesli and Chia seed bars and biscuits containing rolled oats, carrots, pumpkin, and sultanas.

9. Chocolate: If you must eat chocolate, pick your indulgence carefully. Not all chocolates are made equal. Milky Way has 98 calories per bar and 3.5 g of fat while a Snickers bar has close to 300 calories and 16.5 g of fat! Dark chocolate is calorie rich (550 calories in 100 g), but a small piece is often enough to satisfy cravings.

10. Ice cream: A cup of Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownie Ice Cream has 500 calories, and that’s without any additional toppings like nuts or chocolate sauce. A healthy alternative is to freeze fruit like bananas or berries and blend them in a food processor until smooth. Add healthy toppings like almonds or honey for added taste and sweetness. When you do give in to temptation, remember gelato has less cream and about 30% fewer calories than ice cream.

Small tweaks in your eating habits can result in big changes. Try these ideas for food that has all the flavor, but none of the fat.

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