In the spirit of ‘New year new me’, Darren Kirby, fitness expert and founder of Fitter Healthier Dad®, shares his top 5 healthy food alternatives you can quickly and easily change in your diet this January so that you don’t feel like you are being restricted.
According to Darren, losing fat, getting fitter and having more energy is not as complicated or time-consuming as most of us think.
His career as a fitness expert follows his own transformation 6 years ago from an overweight, stressed-out city worker (he lost 61lbs/28kg), to now helping countless dads break through the barriers and improve their health.
Making these changes will help to shift some of that extra Christmas/lockdown weight!
Microwavable Porridge > Rolled Oats with Maple Syrup or Cinnamon
Microwavable porridge sachets have high amounts of added refined sugar; you can easily swap this out for Rolled Oats and add Maple Syrup or Cinnamon for sweetness. This has a low glycemic index (GI) which is good for sustained energy and lower blood sugar
Simply just measure out 35g of porridge oats into a bowl, cover with water or milk/milk substitute and microwave for 1.5-2 minutes.
35g Porridge 136 calories & 1 tbsp White Sugar 60 calories
35g Rolled Oats 136 calories & 1 tbsp Maple Syrup 52 calories
Margarine/Spreads > Real Butter
Whilst margarine spreads are easier to spread, they contain a lot of manufactured fats which cause inflammation affecting our overall weight and health. Real grass-fed butter is a better alternative as it contains good healthier fats which is better for our gut and brain function.
1 tbsp of Margarine Spread 102 calories
1 tbsp of Unsalted butter 102 calories but has the benefit of healthy fats
Pasta > Quinoa
Pasta has become a staple of the western diet, however, it’s a fast- releasing carbohydrate. This means that as we move less, we aren’t using the fuel that the fast- metabolising carbohydrates provide, so try swapping pasta with quinoa.
Quinoa is cooked the same way as pasta, but is also a Low GI carbohydrate and also contains protein which is great for feeling fuller for longer.
1 cup of Pasta 221 calories
1 cup of Quinoa 170 calories
Milk Chocolate > Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa)
With its high content of cocoa, dark chocolate has been linked to many health benefits like reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and reducing blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids.
Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavonoids that may help to protect the heart. Dark chocolate contains up to 2-3 times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate. Always choose brands with 70%+ cocoa content.
Instead of buying one big bar, buy smaller bars and just limit yourself to small amounts each day, rather than consuming a whole 100g bar.
Dark chocolate per serving (28 g) has 136 calories
Milk chocolate per serving (28g) has 150 calories
White Potatoes > Sweet Potatoes
White potato has become the staple of our diets – it is a carbohydrate which our bodies need, but it has a high glycaemic index so it gets converted to sugar for use as energy very quickly, and our bodies can’t process it all. This means that the excess gets stored as fat.
A really good alternative is sweet potato which is much lower in calories and it’s a Low GI carbohydrate, releasing slower into the bloodstream over a longer period of time. They are great roasted in the oven with a small amount of olive oil or mashed with real butter!
1 Serving of White Potatoes 280 calories
1 Serving of Sweet Potatoes 114 calories
Sweetened Yogurts > Greek Full Fat Yogurt (add Blueberries for sweetness)
Sweetened yoghurts are a standard evening dessert in most UK households, however they are laden with sugar. A really good and tasty alternative is full fat greek yogurt which, whilst lower in calories, is also high in good fats and protein which keep us fuller for longer and stave off the evening munchies. For sweetness, add some blueberries which are high in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant.
1 Pot of Strawberry Yogurt 104 Calories (with 14g of Sugar)
1 Pot of Greek Yogurt 61 Calories (also high in protein which keeps us fuller for longer)
Finally, make sure you drink plenty of water, 2-3 litres during the day!
Please Note: Calories are just a high- level measure and there are lots of other nutritional factors to consider when moving towards a nutritionally balanced diet.
For further information on how you, or someone you know, can transform their overall health and wellbeing, visit Fitterhealthierdad.com for unique fat loss programmes that best suit your needs.