More often than we’d all surely like to admit, one of those things that fall by the wayside in our busy lives is our health. Whether it’s work that’s on your mind 24/7, you’ve got kids to drive around to all sorts of activities, or you’re busy with classes or some combination of the three, your health always seems to take a backseat. And when you add losing weight to the list, it seems like you have no other choice but to make cuts and rank your priorities.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. There are lots of different life tips, techniques, and foods that you can employ to help you stay healthy and lose weight without sacrificing anything from your busy lifestyle. You can succeed in achieving all your family and professional goals while also keeping your health in mind and losing the weight you want. It won’t be easy, but if you follow just a few (or all) of these tips and add a couple of these foods to your grocery list, your health and weight loss goals will become much more attainable, even with your busy schedule.
Groceries To Keep In Your Kitchen
Pesto is one of the best and most versatile sauces you can find, so it’s great to keep a homemade or store-bought container in your fridge or freezer. It can spice up any dish, and it’s great when you’re in a tight spot and you need to throw something together in a flash. Make tasty pesto pasta, mix it in a soup, put it in your pizza sauce, or use it as a delicious spread on sandwiches.
3 S’s: Soups, Stews, and Stir Fry
Soups should be a staple in your pantry. They’re one of the healthiest comfort foods out there, and they’re super quick and cheap to make. Stews and stir fry are two other simple and affordable medley meals that anyone can put together. To save even more time and money, make large amounts of one or more of the three S’s, enjoy a little taste, then save your bountiful leftovers in Tupperware containers so you have several ready-made meals throughout the week.
This is a food that’s great for a quick snack here and there, but you can also incorporate it into more delicious full meals. It’s got a long shelf life (you can safely eat refrigerated Greek yogurt for three weeks past its expiration date), and it’s overflowing with probiotics, calcium, protein, and healthy fats. Grab it for a quick and satisfying breakfast, toss it in a smoothie, or use it to replace other fatty white condiments like sour cream and mayo.
You may have been thinking stir fry isn’t a quick meal idea when you throw in all the time it takes to chop up the veggies, and you’d be right. That’s why we suggest making frozen veggies a regular during your grocery runs. They save you loads of time in the kitchen tediously chopping; they’re veggies, so they’re healthy, and when you leave them in the freezer, you don’t have to worry about any rotting. Stir fry, chicken pot pies, and rice dishes in mere minutes await you.
Smoothies are a great way to get all the healthy nutrients you need in the most efficient way possible. All you have to do is plop your favorite smoothie ingredients into your blender, and you’ve got a fast, on-the-go breakfast. They always taste good because you choose your favorite parts, and healthy smoothie ingredients generally include great foods like fruits, veggies, and yogurt.
Omega-3s are an essential healthy fat that reduces inflammation and provides benefits for your brain as well. And while salmon is overflowing with Omega-3s, it’s neither the fastest nor cheapest option out there. A great alternative to get your Omega-3s are chia seeds. What makes these seeds so wonderful is their ability to create tasty pudding. Simply toss a tablespoon of chia seeds into a cup of milk alternative overnight, and in the morning you’ll have satisfying breakfast ready to grab and go.
Pasta is a do-it-all food that is loved and used across nearly all cuisines in the world. Unfortunately, it’s got tons of carbs that do not help when you’re trying to loosen those waistbands. Thankfully, spaghetti squash provides a very healthy alternative without giving up much of the taste and texture that people love about pasta. This kind of squash, which has a very spaghetti-esque, stringy, fibrous quality to it, can also last up to five weeks when left in 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit heat. This squash is stuffed with potassium, and it saves you 180 calories per cup when compared with regular spaghetti.
By buying a whole rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week, you can save precious minutes throughout the week. This way, you’ll always have cooked protein ready to go whenever you have the time to eat. Enjoy a whole piece during a meal, or shred it up in your healthy salads, soups, or stir-fry. And if you’re playing the long game, you can rip it all off the bone right away, then put it in freezer bags so you’ll have some chicken ready to go for the next four months.
Oats are making a comeback. While they’ve always been famous as one of the top fast and healthy breakfast options of all-time, both steel cut and rolled oats are now being used in many different ways in many different kitchens. They’ve got incredible weight-loss properties, including their ability to reduce cravings and harmful cholesterol levels. You can whip up a big batch of steel-cut oats for the week or have a bag of rolled oats handy in the freezer for your smoothie needs. Whether you’re making them into granola or grinding them into flour, oats should definitely have a reserved spot in your cupboard if you’re serious about getting fit.
If you don’t want to do chicken, canned tuna is another nutritious meat to keep in your arsenal for quick and healthy eats. It’s another rich source of omega-3, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA has the distinct ability to turn off abdominal fat genes and can be 40 to 70 percent more effective than the other omega-3, EPA. Quickly spread some tuna on a piece of bread if you’re really in a rush, or make yourself a tuna melt. It’s also a filling, healthy protein to toss in your salads, enhance your pasta, or even serve on a cracker.
Now that we’ve introduced you to some food that will mesh perfectly with a busy lifestyle intent on losing weight, it’s time to check out some life hacks and other tips to consider incorporating into your eating and everyday habits.
Simple Busy Lifestyle Tips For Weight Loss
Meal Planning & Tracking
This is probably the essential tip anyone can get when on their way to losing weight. It’s going to mean sacrificing a decent block of your weekend time, but it’ll be more than worth it once you realize how much time you’ve saved during your weekdays. Not only will you be saving a ton of time and energy, but it’ll also be crucial to help you stay on track with your health, weight, and nutrition goals.
Make a weekly plan and pick up the groceries you need towards the end of the week. Soups, stir fry, and stews are quick, healthy, and easy meals to make on Sunday and freeze to eat throughout the week. Casseroles and shepherd’s pies are a couple of other great meal choices to make and freeze for quick consumption throughout your busy week. You can also eat the leftover chopped up veggies during the week as a crunchy, tasty, and quick meal.
If you want to move down a couple of pants sizes, you don’t necessarily have to change what you eat or cook your own food to put together a meal plan that can help you reach your body and health goes. Many leaders in the profession say that portion control can be one of the best and most effective ways to help limit your caloric intake. If you’re too busy to go out to the grocery store and cook food for yourself, don’t sweat it. All you have to do is make sure you consider portion control.
Eating less not only saves a busy person time, but it’s also easy on the wallet. Active or not, a more affordable option is always welcome. If you want to be healthy and sustainable in your weight loss journey, you should be taking in around 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily. It’s as easy as measuring out your food into appropriate sizes, skipping desserts, or fighting the urge to go back for seconds. Don’t stop eating your favorite foods altogether; just eat less.
Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water and staying hydrated is one of the simplest ways to help yourself towards your body and health goals. Everyone else is saying it, so we will too: eight glasses of water a day will keep the doctor away. Water is the essence of life, which is why getting the right amount of it keeps you feeling full, energized, and focused. Drinking a lot of water also helps keeps colds away and will help you cure or avoid nasty hangovers.
Drinking H2O before you eat can also help you feel more full, so you can eat those smaller portions we talked about earlier. Try to avoid juice and other drinks to try and get your necessary hydration, and instead, aim to drink water more often than not. To make this easier on yourself, try to keep a reusable water bottle around you at all times. Keep it on your desk at work and your side table when you’re in bed so you’re always thinking about hydrating.
Avoid Skipping Meals
It may seem like we’re going against the whole spirit of what we’re doing here, but skipping meals can be counterintuitive for your weight loss goals. According to the experts, busy people especially need to space their calories out throughout the day. Fasting for upwards of five hours can make your metabolism sluggish, have negative effects on your hormone and insulin levels, and lead to worse food choices when the time comes for you to finally end up eating.
Many of the heavier patients that take part in studies on weight loss aren’t overeating but are instead exhibiting erratic eating habits. Ideally, it’s best to stay with a solid plan for your meals, whether it’s five mini-meals or your regular old three squares a day.
Regular Sleep Schedule
A proper sleeping schedule is one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle, and if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s even more critical. Your body needs to be getting around eight hours every night, and it’s much easier to get to sleep and wake up when you’re doing it at the same time consistently as well. Not only that, but getting the proper amount of sleep also means that you’ll feel much fresher and more motivated to get all your work and exercise done as well. You’ll also avoid those late-night cravings for sugary and fatty foods that make it so difficult for people to lose weight and keep it off.
Simple Food Swaps
When you don’t have a lot of time to work on your weight loss goals, consistent, simple food swaps can make a big difference when they’re all added up. There are a lot of different little things you can do to make your meals and snacks healthier and more in line with your weight loss goals. Simple changes like going from sodas to seltzer water with lemon, making your coffee black, keeping cheese off your burger, and using healthier condiments like mustard and honey mustard are easy places to start. These little swaps over the day can allow you to save up enough calories to help you meet your goals without losing any precious minutes during your busy schedule.
Pack Your Lunch
Another simple but effective way to help with your weight loss is to pack your lunch for work every day. Eating out at lunch is one of the most insidious ways to sidetrack your weight loss goals. It seems like a harmless, light meal, but if you’re eating out for lunch five days a week, the calories can add up (as well as the bill). It may seem like a time-intensive endeavor, but you will be surprised at how quickly you can get it done once you get into a daily rhythm.
You’ll be saving lots of time daily, especially if you choose to make all your food at the beginning of the week so you have ready-made meals in your fridge or freezer. Pre-made soups, stir-fry, stews, and simple and light meals like veggie wraps or quinoa salads are just a few of the quick options you can consider.
Leave Healthy Snacks at Work
Leaving some snacks at your workplace is also very helpful so that, when those random post-lunch cravings kick in at your desk, you have something filling and healthy to snack on. Things like granola bars, trail mix, seaweed, roasted chickpeas, pistachios, and other nutrient-rich eats are great for this.
This tip isn’t just good for post-lunch though; it’s also great for pre-lunch. Having assorted healthy breakfast food-type options at your workplace means there are no excuses for you to pop out for an unhealthy bite or a trip to the junk food vending machine. Ideally, these breakfast foods would be non-perishable things like seeds, dried fruit, and nuts to toss into instant oatmeal, which is always a quick and easy way to do breakfast right. Pair that with a banana or other fruit, and you’ve got more than enough to keep you satisfied until or through lunch.
Make Healthy Foods Visible
Here’s a technique you wouldn’t expect to make any difference, but that does help you live healthier. Keeping a few fruits out on your counter or desk will continue to remind you that they’re an option. For some people, the fact that they’ll go rotten if not eaten within a few days is also an excellent incentive to munch on those fruits you have out regularly. A 2016 study found that keeping fruit out and in your line of sight was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI).
Pregame Before Eating Out
This is another tip that may seem counterintuitive at the outset, but hear us out. Eating something before you go out for dinner or a happy hour can help you lose pounds. A series of studies out of Penn State found that eating a snack such as a fruit or a soup before going out for a restaurant meal can lower your caloric intake by 20 percent. Let’s stretch this strategy out over a year and see what happens: usually, a restaurant meal is about 1,230 calories, which means saving 20 percent once a day could lose you a whopping 23 pounds over the course of a year!
Not to mention, the food you eat before you go out will most likely be much healthier than what you’re getting at a restaurant if you’ve followed any of the tips or added any of the food we’ve suggested to your grocery list.