1.) Whole Wheat Bread
The term empty calories refers to something that has lots of calories but very minimal nutritional benefit (little vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.). White bread, one of the most consumed food items in the world, is probably the king of empty calories. Here’s a super quick breakdown of how whole wheat becomes white bread. The original/unprocessed wheat flour, of which all of our bread products originate from, contains 3 layers (bran, germ, and endosperm). During the processing of the wheat flour to become white bread, two out of the three layers are removed and a lot of crap is added (bleaching agents, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, etc.). Unfortunately, those two removed layers have all of the nutritional good stuff. Many of today’s meals include some kind of bread option (for desi people it’s basically all meals) and substituting that daily naan with a whole wheat roti can really go a long way. Kontos brand whole wheat pita bread is a great tasting roti option to eat your nihari dish with and not feel so terrible afterwards. With that said, please feel free to occasionally indulge in a delicious sandwich made with white bread or giant fluffy naan; the occasional indulgence is necessary to not go crazy. Just make sure it fits your macros.
*Please don’t hate me for all the tabs you just opened up to learn about south asian/brown culture.
2.) Quinoa & Brown Rice
This bad boy right here can REALLY vamp up your meals. Yes, it fits all of the awesome categories of being organic and whole grain, but it’s also delicious. The key is to use the serving size to measure out 1 cup (or less if desired), toss it in a skillet with some eggs, veggies, protein (chicken, beef, etc.), and you have yourself a high protein, filling, and not super high calorie meal to fuel your day. It can be difficult sometimes to fill your diet with good tasting minimally processed whole foods, so any opportunity you have to fill your shelves up with something fitting this criteria is a win-win situation.
3.) Green Tea
Let’s get this out of the way first…green tea alone is NOT going to make you lose weight. With that said, it can still be a great daily addition to your daily diet to help you assist in losing weight and achieve greater overall health. The list of the benefits of green tea is a very lengthy one but practically speaking there are probably two functions of green tea that’ll make you happy. One, green tea is filled with antioxidants. To put it simply, antioxidants (good guys) reduce the activity of free radicals (bad guys) in the body. The results could range from just an overall feeling of wellness to reducing your risk for cancer . Second, green tea MAY increase your metabolism which CAN MAYBE help you lose more weight. My eye cringes writing that statement because people think just because something MIGHT have a small effect on weight loss it’s their golden ticket to a 6-pack (I’m looking at you stupid weight loss supplement section). It’s better to look at the risk/reward in this kind of situation. There really isn’t much downside to drinking a daily green tea (unless you have some specific condition, like caffeine sensitivity). At the same time, green tea has been shown to have a small effect on weight loss . So, with all of the benefits that green tea has to offer, a daily green tea certainly sounds like a good deal to me.
4.) Crystal Light (or other natural/artificially beverage sweeteners)
People drinks WAY too much soda in today’s society. It’s like the word moderation gets thrown out the window when it comes to drinking soda. If you want to take a really quick, easy, and effective step towards weight loss, cut soda from your diet. Now, it’s hard to go cold turkey so mixing these beverage sweeteners in water gives you a low calorie and good tasting beverage without the 50 grams of sugar and 200 calories. Water should always be the preferred beverage for health but, understandably, we get a sweet tooth sometimes. An occasional soda here and there doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, the occasional soda in today’s society is usually twice a day, everyday.
5.) Protein Powder
When people think of protein powder they think of something that’s only supposed to be drank after a workout. This is not a good way to think of protein powder, rather, it’s simply a supplement to assist you in acquiring your total amount of protein in the day. If you get all your protein through lean meat, beans, nuts, yogurt, and other sources, well then that’s awesome. But if not, mixing a scoop or two of protein powder in a homemade shake can be a simple easy way to make a filling and tasty meal/snack. Just mix together a scoop of protein powder, glass of water/milk, throw in some fruits, and maybe even a teaspoon of peanut butter. Here are a few well respected brands of protein powder for men and women.
Jurgens TM, Whelan AM, Killian L, Doucette S, Kirk S, Foy E. Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;12:CD008650.
Kuroda Y, Hara Y. Antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activity of tea polyphenols. Mutat Res. 1999;436(1):69-97.