It’s true, what we consume plays a bigger part in our bodies than working out. That means as much as you exercise, it’s hard to see the results unless you’re eating right and nourishing your body with healthy choices. You might have heard of this before -- it’s known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule: 80% of your results come from diet and 20% comes from physical fitness.
But that doesn’t mean stop being active and only focus on food, the two go hand in hand. If you’re looking to shed some weight or reach a fitness goal, start by taking a look at what’s inside your pantry and refrigerator, then begin your workout regime. Not sure what to toss?Check out the following healthy food swaps that will start you off on the right foot:
Canola Oil → Coconut Oil
While canola oil is often used for cooking at restaurants and in homes, it’s not the best option due to its highly processed nature. The crop it comes from—rapeseed (not grapeseed)—is typically genetically modified and treated with pesticides. Instead of using this to cook or fry foods, swap it out for coconut oil. It’s known to have anti-inflammatory effects and medium-chain triglycerides that can help increase the body's energy expenditure.
Peanut Butter → Almond Butter
Peanut butter and almond butter, the battle continues on which one is better. If you’re not sure, try almond butter because it’s known to be a healthier option. This is because almond butter has more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fewer calories per serving. In fact, for every two tablespoons almond butter has 190 calories and peanut butter has 210 calories. While it might not seem like a huge difference, those calories add up.
A serving of peanut butter also has over twice as much saturated fat as a serving of almond butter. It contains nearly three times as much vitamin E, twice as much iron, and seven times more calcium than peanut butter.
Wheat Pasta → Black Bean Pasta
Pasta is a warm and comforting dish that’s loved in many households, however, instead of eating processed wheat and extra calories, try another option like black bean pasta. Made from ground black beans, this option is completely gluten-free with no add-ins and no preservatives, just pure goodness. It also pairs well with any sauce that would go on traditional wheat noodles -- try them out and see for yourself.
The best part about these delicious noodles is they’re a plant-based protein with ample nutritional content. One 2 oz serving (the same size as traditional wheat pasta) contains 12 grams of fiber, 25 grams of protein, 36 % of the recommended daily intake of iron, and only 180 calories.
Dairy Milk → Nut Milk
For many decades, people have believed that dairy milk is important party of a balanced daily diet. And while it can provide a number of nutrients and minerals that the body needs, like calcium, scientists have found that it’s not always the best option. Especially for those with lactose intolerance or who choose not to consume animal products and byproducts. Furthermore, the human body doesn’t digest dairy products well, often leading to bloating, allergies, and indigestion.
Luckily, there’s a great food swap for cow’s milk and it’s nut milk. Not only are nut milks healthier non-dairy alternatives, but most of them boast more calcium, fewer calories, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. If you’re looking for a delicious almond milk with minimal ingredients, try the Renew Juicery Almond Mylk products, which are all organic, cold-pressed, and come in a variety of flavors.
Sour Cream → Coconut Yogurt
Sour cream does have a great taste, but coconut yogurt has a similar flavor profile and is a much healthier option. Per tablespoon, sour cream contains 31 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 8 milligrams of sodium, compared to coconut yogurt, which has 14 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 8 milligrams of sodium, -- all for the same serving size.
With its rich creaminess, subtly tart flavor, and probiotic super powers, coconut yogurt is the perfect replacement for sour cream. While it can make a tantalizing breakfast with fresh berries and granola, it can also play an unexpected role in lieu of sour cream in dishes like baked potatoes and dip.
Processed Salad Dressing → Homemade Salad Dressing
Having a salad for a meal can feel like a major accomplishment, but don’t defeat the purpose by pouring process salad dressing on top of your fresh lettuce and veggies. Even if the dressing is labeled “light,” the flavor lost from cutting out the fat is often compensated by adding sugars and sodium. Using a simple homemade dressing with olive oil and balsamic can help your body to better absorb nutrients from the vegetables, so don’t shy away from this option.
For example: one brand of store bought Italian dressing contains 109 calories per serving, along with 490 milligrams of sodium, and is made with 16 ingredients. Each serving is only 2 tablespoons. Instead of using something like this, try a mixture of two ingredients: one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. It clocks in at about 94 calories per serving and only 4 milligrams of sodium.
Potato Chips → Kale Chips
Although potato chips are loved for their crunchy texture and salty flavor, they’re also high in fat and sodium levels, making them an unhealthy snack. The good news is that there is an easy food swap for potato chips and that’s with tasty kale chips. They satisfy your craving for something with a crunch and savory flavor, without all the saturated fat and sodium like their potato counterpart.
Best of all, kale chips are easy to make at home. Just toss some chopped kale in a small amount of olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet, and slide it into the oven. Wait until they are crispy and browned on the edges before you take them out. This method of cooking them in the oven retains all the nutritional value of the kale, creating a low-calorie, nutrient-dense snack you’ll love.