Peanut Butter Alternatives For Weight Loss

It’s easy to go to the grocery store and get overwhelmed by all the options, and then end up picking what you always do. One thing to consider next time you’re at the grocery store is changing from peanut butter to almond butter or cashew butter. This could help you lose weight.

Almond Butter and Cashew Butter

Peanut butter has both healthy and unhealthy fats in it. If you’re eating peanut butter every day, almond butter could be a better option to help you lose weight. Of the three, almond butter has the highest amount of healthy fats and the lowest amount of unhealthy fats. Lowering your unhealthy fat intake can help you lose weight. Cashew butter falls in the middle of the two for weight loss.

Should You Switch from Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter does have the highest amount of unhealthy fats of the three. However, peanut butter also usually has more protein than the other two. If you need more protein in your diet than peanut butter is your best option. For everyone else, almond butter is usually the best option.

Peanut Butter versus Regular Butter

All three nut butters are relatively healthy versus regular butter. So if you eat a lot of toast and butter, then it’s healthier to switch to toast with any of the three nut butters. The other thing to watch out for is added sugar. You don’t really need sugar in your peanut butter or any type of butter, so that’s something to check the label for.

Should You Eat Any Type of Butter?

You might wonder if you should just take peanut butter out of your diet altogether instead of switching to almond butter. You shouldn’t because studies have shown that people who don’t get at least a minimal amount of unhealthy fat in their diet could be at an increased risk of stroke. The reason for this is not completely clear yet. Like many things in life, the best option here is moderation as science shows there is such a thing as too much unhealthy fat as well as too little unhealthy fat in your diet.

P.S. Wondering if you should eat before your morning workout? Check out my review here.

Is Cheese Good For You? Dairy Cheese Alternatives

A few months ago I tried cashew cheese for the first time, and it’s definitely an acquired taste. That brings up the question is it even worth acquiring the taste? How healthy is dairy cheese for you? Will switching to a nondairy cheese help you lose weight?

Will Switching Cheeses Help You Lose Weight?

That depends on how much dairy cheese you’re eating per day. If you’re eating one serving or less switching is probably not going to make that much of a difference.  If you’re eating more than one serving of dairy cheese a day, then that’s a reason to consider switching to nondairy alternatives.

Dairy cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, but it also has unhealthy fat in it. Too much unhealthy fat can cause you to gain weight, make it harder for you to lose weight, and can lead you to develop cardiovascular disease long term. So those are the reasons to consider switching.

Nut Milk Cheeses

The most common alternatives I usually see are nut milk cheeses, for example, almond cheese or cashew cheese. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but it does have less unhealthy fat than dairy cheese. Usually, nut milk cheeses have an equal amount of protein as dairy cheeses. The amount of protein in one slice or one ounce of nut milk cheese should be about 5-10 grams, that would make it roughly equal to the amount in dairy cheese.

Nut milk cheeses do have less calcium than dairy milk cheeses, so you would need to find alternate sources of calcium in your diet. The easiest option for calcium is green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach. If you’re eating a lot of salads, then you’re probably getting enough calcium in your diet.

Oat Milk and Coconut Milk Cheeses

Other common options I see are oat milk cheeses and coconut milk cheeses. Of the ones I’ve seen so far, they don’t have as good of a nutritional profile as nut milk cheeses. From what I’ve seen they have less protein and less calcium than dairy milk cheese, although they also have less unhealthy fat.

What Should You Do?

So if you’re switching to a nondairy cheese, I recommend nut milk cheeses over oat milk cheeses and coconut milk cheeses because they do have less unhealthy fat and an equal amount of protein when compared to dairy milk cheeses.

Foods with healthy protein can help you feel fuller when you eat, and will also help you maintain muscle when you’re losing weight. Again eating less unhealthy fat has many benefits including helping you lose weight.

P.S.  Here’s the YouTube version of this post.


Halloween Healthy Eating Tips

It’s that time of year again. I always find it the hardest to eat healthy around this time of year because from Halloween to New Year’s Eve it’s a lot of parties and get togethers and a lot of yummy unhealthy food.

It’s easy to say “Don’t eat that Halloween candy, eat fruits and vegetables instead”, but it’s harder actually to do it. My Halloween favorite is candy corn, so I know how hard it is to resist. Here are some Halloween tips for eating healthier.

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How to Eat at Halloween Get Togethers

Usually at Halloween get togethers there are a lot of baked goods like pumpkin pie that you only eat at this time of the year or candies like candy corn that you really only eat at Halloween that you may really enjoy eating. I recommend you count this as a cheat meal, I usually recommend three cheat meals a week.

Again, a cheat meal means a meal with a higher amount of sugar, unhealthy carbs, and/or unhealthy fats. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy and eat everything. If you get one plate of food including cookies, cupcakes, etc. that counts as one cheat meal. So if you eat two to three plates of cupcakes, pie, candy, etc. at one Halloween get together you may end up eating all three cheat meals for the week at one event.

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What To Do If Your Coworkers Keep Offering You Halloween Treats

If you have coworkers who are bringing in sweet treats or their kids’ leftover Halloween candy every day around Halloween you may have to tell people you’re trying to eat healthySometimes it’s not comfortable to tell people you’re trying to lose weight, so try telling people you’re trying to eat healthier for another reason.

Some other reasons people say no to candy or extra sugar include that some people find that eating extra sugar gives them digestive issues, some people feel like it makes their skin break out, and other people feel like it makes them feel more tired or like they have less energy. You could even say you’re doing a 30 day Halloween challenge that involves you not eating any Halloween candy.

There are a lot of health benefits to eating less candy besides losing weight. Hopefully, your coworkers will then stop offering you candy, so you won’t have to keep utilizing your willpower to say no.

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Halloween Candy at Your House

You may have leftover candy from what you were giving out to trick or treaters, or your kids may have brought home a lot of candy when they went trick or treating. A good option is to donate the extra candy at your house. If there isn’t very much candy at your house you won’t have to worry about you eating all the extra candy.

There are a number of organizations that will take leftover candy donations at this time of the year. Also, your dentist’s office may take leftover candy because they want you to have healthy teeth. Your pediatrician’s office may be collecting leftover candy donations because they want your kids to eat healthy.

Also, it’s something to consider because it can help your kids form healthy eating habits too. Not that they shouldn’t eat any candy, but usually the amount of candy most kids get at Halloween is extra, so they could keep a small amount of the candy they get and donate the rest. This will help them start making healthy eating habits as a child, so it will be easier for them to eat healthy as an adult.

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P.S. Here’s the YouTube version of this post. Also, if you’ve ever thought about trying collagen supplements, here’s my review of the current data.

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Is Dieting Bad For Your Health?

You may have seen in the news recently articles about yo-yo dieting linked to increased rates of heart attack and stroke, even in otherwise healthy people. This isn’t the first time medical studies have linked yo-yo dieting to negative outcomes for your health.

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What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

This is when you start a diet and lose weight but then put the weight back on presumably because you stopped the diet or it was a short term diet like a cleanse. This can happen when you do extreme diets like a 7 day cleanse, or a 30 day challenge if you’re not able to maintain the changes you made long term. Although your weight can go up and down for various reasons, it’s generally assumed that for most people it’s from changes in your diet.

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Why Is Yo-Yo Dieting Bad?

The recent news articles about yo-yo dieting are based on a recent study that came out in the medical journal Circulation.  This study looked at about 6.7 million healthy people, so that’s a large study. The study showed that weight variability (which can be caused by yo-yo dieting) can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and can also negatively affect your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. Some of this information confirms prior data from smaller studies that yo-yo dieting can be bad for you long term.

Based on study data yo-yo dieting could also lead you to be overall heavier or to lose less weight long term. One theory is that if there’s a lot of variability in your weight it could lead to a long term break down in your body weight regularity system, so that ends up making it harder for you to lose weight long term.

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What Can You Do About It?

The best thing to do is to make healthy changes slowly to how you eat. I know that’s not as exciting as doing a cleanse or challenge and it’s harder to post about on Instagram or Twitter, but it will be healthier for you long term. You could start with even eating one healthier meal one day a week and then every week increase the number of healthy meals you’re eating.

This is so you can maintain these changes long term, but also so you can troubleshoot problems along the way. For example what to do when you have unexpected meetings that throw off your eating schedule, or how to eat a healthy breakfast when you’re on vacation, and so on. If you’re doing it gradually you can figure how to overcome different obstacles in your life that are keeping you from eating healthy.

P.S. Here’s the YouTube version of this post.

Want more science backed health and nutrition advice? Sign up for the email list here.

Will Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?

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Lately, it seems like a lot of celebrities are promoting various types of teas that helped them lose weight. You may be wondering about whether it’s worth trying? If it worked for a celebrity, maybe it will work for you too? There aren’t medical studies evaluating every type of tea out there, but there are a number of small studies looking at green tea and weight loss.

Green Tea and Weight Loss

Some studies show drinking green tea every day does help you lose weight. There are other studies showing that although it helps with weight loss, the weight loss is not statistically significant.

Part of the reason the results are varied from study to study is that there are a lot of different types of green tea. Different types of green tea have different amounts of caffeine and different amounts of catechins (antioxidants). One proposed method of how green tea could help you lose weight is the caffeine and catechins, and this might be why there are different results from study to study regarding weight loss.

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How Does Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?

Really there’s not a clear answer of how green tea could help you lose weight. Medical research isn’t clear partly because of the differences in green teas and different amounts of caffeine and catechins.

This paper suggests it may be secondary to your gut microbes (bacteria) and the way your gut absorbs green tea. Possibly different people are absorbing green tea in different ways, and that’s why it helps some people lose weight but doesn’t help other people lose weight.

Should You Try Green Tea?

Based on the data so far I wouldn’t recommend you start drinking green tea for the purpose of weight loss. The data is not clear that it would work for weight loss or how it would work. However if you already drink tea every day, you could try switching to green tea and test if does help you with weight loss. This would be green tea without any added milk, sugar, or sweeteners.

On a side note, green tea extract is different than green tea as a beverage. Green tea extract has also been studied for weight loss, but it also has potentially more side effects. Green tea as a beverage is the safest way to take in green tea.

P.S. Wondering what your goal heart rate should be when you work out? Check out my video here.

Does Weight Loss Coaching Work?

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There are a lot of different types of weight loss programs out there. One of them is weight loss coaching. Given that weight loss coaching is a time and money investment you might be wondering if it really works. I haven’t tried it myself, so I reviewed the medical studies available.

Do Weight Loss Coaching Programs Work?

Based on data yes weight loss coaching is an effective way to lose weight. If you’re having trouble losing weight on your own, it’s worth trying at least once. The most effective type of program lasts at least six months, and the coaching sessions are at least twice a month. More frequent coaching sessions seem to correlate with more weight loss. The studies showed that if you’re speaking with a coach once a week, you’re likely to lose more weight than someone who is speaking with a coach less frequently.

If you’ve had trouble maintaining weight loss, studies have also shown that coaching could help with that too. So if you’re one of those people who can lose weight on your own, but then you have trouble keeping it off long term, it may be worth trying weight loss coaching.

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What About the Cost?

Several health insurances have started their own weight loss programs in the last couple of years that are free for their members. However, if this isn’t an option for you, weight loss coaching can be expensive depending on the program. Think of it as an investment in your long-term health. If you’re losing weight by eating healthier and a weight loss coach helps you do this, it can help you prevent and/or reverse long-term health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol. So even though it’s expensive up front, long term it can help you save money.

How Long Should You Try a Weight Loss Coaching Program?

In the medical studies I reviewed on average people lost 10-20 pounds in the first six months. So if you’re not losing weight effectively in the first six months of a program, consider that maybe this isn’t the right program for you. Even though it may have worked for other people you know, the same program is not going to work for everyone; different people have different lifestyles, different work schedules, etc.

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What Type of Weight Loss Coaching Program Should You Try?

It’s worth thinking about how you’ve accomplished things in the past.  One approach is to think of it as how you best learned in school, in group settings versus individual settings, online versus in person, etc. That may help you figure out what type of weight loss coaching program would fit you the best.

If you try a weight loss coaching program for six months and it doesn’t work for you, move on to something else. Again because people have different lifestyles, jobs, and even different genetic backgrounds, all of this can affect what will work for you. But don’t give up, sometimes it just takes time to find what will work best for you!