By Pure Matters
If you're embarking on the journey to lose weight the healthy way, the first crucial step is making sure your pantry and fridge are well-stocked for success.
As one of the creators of the Gold Plan, the comprehensive fitness and meal plan that supplements Pure Matters' new all-natural weight management formula, FucoGold, I know firsthand from my clients that without having the right kinds of food on-hand, binge eating or hunger pangs are more likely to happen.
So I've outlined the go-to foods I always keep in my pantry and fridge–and here's a handy printer-friendly cheat sheet to keep on your fridge or take with you while food shopping. Replace junk food with these staples and try some of my tips for choosing healthier options at the grocery store.
Fill your fridge with the colors of the rainbow. You really can't go wrong with any fresh fruits or vegetables, just make sure that you choose a variety of these nutrient-rich plant foods daily and make them a part of every meal and snack. Some of my top superfood picks include: spinach, sweet potatoes, apples, berries, kale, oranges, tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli and squash. While it's fine to stock up on your favorites, consider trying a new food from the produce section every week. Not only will you improve your nutrient intake this way, but you'll expand your taste buds too!
Whole grains should get first dibs in your pantry to help maximize your weight loss efforts. Researchers have shown that women who eat more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who eat less of these fiber-rich foods. The great thing about whole grains is they can last a long time in your pantry, so stock up. Be sure you choose "whole" rather than refined grains, and avoid the processed versions, which typically have much of the nutrition stripped away–not to mention added salt, sugar, and preservatives. Think rolled oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa, ready-to-eat high-fiber cereals, and 100% whole grain breads and pasta.
Make protein packed foods a kitchen staple. Fill your fridge and pantry with poultry, fish, shellfish (e.g., shrimp and scallops), eggs, non-fat milk and greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, soymilk, tofu, beans and lentils (dried and/or canned), nuts/seeds, and nut butters. If you include protein-rich foods as a part of every meal and snack you will stay satisfied, eat less, and lose weight faster than if you skimped on the protein.
It's easy to sabotage your weight loss efforts if you aren't careful with your fat intake. Fat is one of those tricky components of any weight loss endeavor because it contains more calories per gram than protein and carbs. In other words, a little fat goes a long way. First off, don't buy the fat-laden sweets and snacks like pastries, chips, processed meats (e.g., bacon, sausage, and hot dogs), butter and full-fat dairy (e.g., whole milk, ice cream). If they aren't in your house, you are less likely to eat them. Instead choose healthy fats from foods like salmon and tuna (fresh and canned in water), nuts/seeds, nut butters, avocado, and olive oil. Importantly, eating fewer saturated fats and choosing more unsaturated and essential fats can shift your body's fat-burning mechanisms into high gear.
Beverages can make or break your weight loss efforts. If you're drinking sodas, Frappuccinos, lattes, and sweetened juice or energy drinks everyday, you could easily add more than 20 pounds to your body weight every year–from these liquids alone. Even if you're exercising on a regular basis, consuming these high-calorie beverages means you'll have to work extra hard to burn off these empty calories. Stick primarily to water, but mix it up with green tea and coffee (sweetened with a natural, no-calorie sweetener such as stevia if desired), non-fat milk or soymilk. For a special treat, try seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice and a lemon, lime, or orange slice for extra zing.
Wondering if you should forever avoid the snack aisle? Of course not! While processed snack foods can easily increase your daily calorie intake, if you are careful with portion sizes and make wise choices, then indulging in a healthy treat makes sense. Think 100 percent fruit sorbet, popcorn, trail mix, dried fruit (e.g., raisins, figs, dates), dark chocolate, non-fat frozen yogurt, and high-fiber muffins. Be sure to pair your snack with some produce and/or protein for staying power. For example, an apple and high fiber muffin.
Don't forget about freezer basics. Frozen fruits and vegetables provide a nourishing alternative to fresh produce and can help you prepare a healthy meal or snack when you're in a pinch. Edamame (soybeans in the pod), peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, corn, and veggie stir-fry combos go from the freezer to plate in no time. Berries, pineapple, mango, and peaches are delicious to eat frozen right out of the bag or can be added to your favorite smoothie recipe.
Having the right condiments and seasonings on hand can help you prepare tasty and healthy meals without added fat and sodium. Be sure to stock your pantry with low-sodium chicken and vegetable broth, claim juice, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, marinara sauce (no sugar added), light coconut milk (for soups and curries), low-sodium soy sauce, dijon mustard dry white wine, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic and ginger, and a variety of dried herbs and spices (e.g., Italian blend, curry powder, chili powder, red pepper, black pepper, no-salt/no-MSG mixed herb seasoning).