Whether you’re counting calories or just eyeballing your portions and using simple math (1 less slice of toast, serving of potatoes, etc), cutting calories can be extremely difficult.

I have found that one of the simplest strategies you can use to cut calories (especially in the beginning) is replacing unhealthy, calorie dense foods with healthy, nutrient dense ones.

This may seem pretty dull and/or obvious, however, many fail to implement it and instead try unnecessary and impractical ways to cut calories (or diet in general).

It is not the flashy complicated, “special”, “cutting edge” stuff that works. It is the tried and true fundamentals that MUST be made into habits if we wish to be successful long-term.

Note: It can take time to adjust to the taste of foods such as brown rice, whole grain pasta or 100% whole wheat bread if you’re used to the refined versions but it is well worth it.

Why Substitute?

Reason 1
Well, first off, it is a fairly simple action to take. With all the complicated, over-hyped weight loss and/or health strategies, this in comparison is extremely simple and reasonable. Your biggest hurdle will likely be your taste buds (though you may find, like me, that whole grains are even tastier than their refined counterparts).

Reason 2
The second reason is that the less refined or processed the foods you eat are, the more nutrients that they will provide (i.e, whole foods are much more nutrient dense compared to refined and/or processed foods). You will also (likely) take in less fat, sugar, and salt as well, considering processed foods are excessively high in these.

Reason 3
The third reason is, you will likely eat less (without even realizing it)! Whole foods are usually more satiating (filling) than their processed counterparts so you will likely (unknowingly) take in less calories than you did with your poor diet. Eating a bag of chips that is 300 calories can usually be done very easily while trying to eat 300 calories worth of apples (~3-4 apples) would be much harder. Note: Calories rule the day with weight loss, so whether you eat 100% whole foods or not, calories will determine whether you lose or gain weight. If you take in more than your body requires you will gain weight. Just remember this.

As obvious as substituting unhealthy foods with healthier ones is, many of us fail to place proper focus on it (as well as many other simple yet effective methods to better health).

Instead, too many of us place an excessive amount of focus on quick fixes, gimmicks, etc (i.e, strategies that are not sustainable and sometimes useless/dangerous to our health).

Substituting foods can be a very simple yet effective way to decrease caloric intake while (possibly) increasing your micronutrient intake.

Start smart! Skip the quick fixes and start filling your shopping cart with more nutrient dense, satiating whole foods.

I hope this simple strategy can aid you in better achieving your goals. Good luck and keep pushing forward!

Michael Cruz

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