How to Lose Weight on a Budget
While weight loss industry services are popular, many dieters prefer to maintain a tight budget when losing weight. For those who are looking to lose weight without spending too much money, a gym membership may not be useful – although regular exercise has plenty of health benefits, it cannot offset the damage done by a poor diet. Instead, dieters should look at removing sugary and calorific snack foods and drinks from their diet, and should focus on eating enough protein and fiber to help them feel full after a meal. This could make you less likely to cave in and spend money on an unhealthy food product.
Tips on How to Lose Weight on a Budget
Losing weight often requires time and effort. Because finding the right life balance to shed the extra pounds can be difficult, a wide variety of companies offer weight loss solutions at a price – these include gyms, diet plans and fitness coaching.
While some people may find these professional services useful, not everybody is in a position to pay for weight loss or is willing to be forced to spend money to earn a healthier lifestyle. Thankfully, a lot of the easiest ways to improve general health, as well as lose excess weight, can come from changes which can be made without spending any money. In some cases, it’s cheaper to implement a healthier lifestyle than it is to be unhealthy.
However, to get these benefits dieters need to make careful, informed choices about what they eat and how they manage their weight. By choosing the right foods, it’s possible to lose weight and save money at the same time.
1. Diet Matters More than Exercise
One of the most popular approaches to weight loss in modern life is gym membership – in recent years, the popularity of attending the gym to lose weight has grown as many people look to slim down and lead a healthier lifestyle.
There certainly is a strong health benefit to regular exercise – the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges calls it the ‘miracle cure’ and claim that exercising five times a week has been linked with a reduced chance of developing dementia, heart disease and breast cancer among other ailments.
That said, many healthcare professionals are beginning to worry that many people believe that they can exercise to burn off the negative effects of eating unhealthily, and that regular gym attendance offsets a poor diet.
Scientific studies have shown that when it comes to combatting obesity and its varied effects on the body’s health, exercise is of secondary benefit: the most important step to losing weight and avoiding obesity is eating a healthy diet and avoiding junk food. Those who are looking to lose weight are better off removing unhealthy food from their diet instead of paying for expensive gym memberships.
2. Eat Healthy Food
The barrier to eating healthily, especially in the modern world, is that it’s often seen as more difficult and costly to find healthy food than it is to indulge in junk food. With fast food, convenience snacks and processed ready meals becoming more accessible and cheap, many dieters erroneously believe that healthy food is more expensive while tasty treats and unhealthy meals are a cheaper alternative.
In practice, this isn’t the case: although eating healthily may take more effort, preparation and planning, it’s possible to eat a balanced diet that promotes weight loss for less money than the price of a processed or pre-prepared meal, and by cutting out unhealthy snacks dieters can save a lot of money. The key, though, is to pick the right foods: ones that are not only healthy, but also filling enough that the dieter won’t feel tempted to snack on treats or go for unhealthy second meals.
A study in 2014 looked at adolescent intake of snack foods and their risk of obesity. 400 randomly selected adolescents between the age of 11 and 13 in Italy were evaluated based on how much snack food they consumed, the frequency with which they snacked, the calorie content of their snacks and the time of the day that they were most likely to snack. It was found that snacking in the evening was associated with the greatest risk of obesity, and that the more frequently adolescents snacked and the greater the calorie content of these snacks, the greater the risk of developing obesity. For this reason, it’s important for dieters to eat healthy, low calorie meals and to avoid unnecessary and often costly snack foods which can harm the body.
Protein and Fiber
One big mistake that a lot of dieters make in attempting to lose weight through restricting their calorie intake is choosing to focus on the wrong foods. While eating excess amounts of fat can be harmful, attempting to eat a diet that cuts out all fat is unlikely to help, especially as without more filling content the body won’t be satiated after a meal and will require additional food. What’s more, scientists have found that food with high sugar content is more destructive to weight loss efforts than many kinds of fat – which is unfortunate, as a lot of low fat foods instead add sugar to make the taste of their meals palatable.
Instead of relying on low fat meals, dieters should look to reduce the amount of sugar in their meals, and to focus on meals which contain adequate amounts of protein and fiber – both substances which fill up the user’s stomach, helping people on diets to feel less hungry throughout the day.
There are plenty of low cost ways to eat more protein – many types of nuts, fish and meats contain protein which can help the body to feel more satiated after a meal. Fiber-rich sources of food, such as soy, oats and whole grains are also suitable for meals; some evidence suggests they are more filling than purely relying on green vegetables to aid weight loss, and will help dieters to avoid spending too much money on expensive ingredients that don’t fill the stomach.
3. Cut Out Sugary Snacks and Drinks
One of the biggest expenses in most budgets is comfort food – this can include crisps, sweets, biscuits and other foods which, while easy to come by, are both unhealthy and an unnecessary drain on the finances. Putting an end to snack foods will make a big difference to a person’s health and weight, whilst the money saved can instead be spent on healthy, fresh ingredients for meals. Wherever possible, dieters should make their meals from scratch to avoid additional sugar within their foods.
In connection with this, there are significant benefits to cutting sugary drinks of all varieties out of a person’s diet. Considering the high levels of sugar in many soft drinks and even in smoothies and fruit juices, it’s unsurprising that these drinks are associated with weight gain. The healthiest drink option is water as it provides the necessary hydration without calories or sugar – it’s also cheaper than most soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and juices, so only drinking water has significant benefits not just to weight, but also to finances.
In 2006 a clinical review looked at studies that had been done on a variety of sugary drinks in the years between 1966 and 2005. Across a variety of studies undertaken between these years, it was found that a higher intake of drinks that had been sweetened with additional sugar was associated with significant weight gain. Thus, removing sugary drinks may be an important step to overcoming the negative effects of sugar on the body.
Cutting out sugary foods is going to become even more important to maintaining an economic budget in the UK in future, as the government has announced plans to introduce a sugar tax to make unhealthy and obesity-inducing food products less appealing. For this reason, those looking to stick to a tight budget while losing weight will find cutting out sugary snacks and drinks will be one of the most effective methods of achieving their goals.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be an expensive process – in many cases, rather than paying extra to reduce body weight, it’s easier and more effective to simply cut out parts of the diet which are causing the most harm to the body. Going to the gym isn’t the best approach to weight loss as advocated by medical professionals; instead, people should look to remove unhealthy foods from their diet. Through making meals from scratch and eating enough protein and fiber, it’s possible to stave off hunger pangs throughout the day, reducing the discomfort caused by a reduced calorie diet whilst avoiding buying unhealthy snack foods.
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