If you’re trying to lose weight, then you probably think junk food is off the menu. You know that fresh fruit, wholesome veggies, and lean protein is the way to go. And yet, you still get those cravings for chips, chocolate, and ice cream. So, how can you satisfy these urges without undermining your weight loss efforts?
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to compromise. You can find healthy junk food options that taste delicious but won’t sabotage your weight loss goals. In this article, we look at some tasty alternatives to help you feel satisfied without the excess calories.
- Can you eat junk food if you want to lose weight?
- Is it possible to satisfy cravings without eating junk food?
- Healthier junk food options
Whether you’re ‘allowed’ to eat junk food may depend on the type of diet that you’re following. If you’re adopting a balanced approach to healthy eating, then you might consider the occasional junk food meal ok. This moderation-based method is usually easier to stick with long-term since nothing is completely forbidden. However, other low carb, low fat, or pure protein diets won’t allow junk food as it contains barred macronutrients.
Whatever approach you’re taking to lose weight, eating junk food is going to make it much harder. You may be able to get away with the occasional indulgence, but you definitely don’t want to make it a regular habit. Junk food contains a high volume of calories and glycemic loads which spike your blood sugar levels. Fast food and takeaways tend to involve oversized portions which further contribute to excess calories. They’re usually low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but high in processed carbohydrates and saturated fats. There’s strong evidence that fast food is a major contributor to weight gain and rising obesity. So, avoiding it will give you the best chance of reaching your weight loss goals in a shorter amount of time.
However, resisting junk food is easier said than done. The lure of pizza on a Friday night or a juicy burger on the weekend can sometimes be too much. If you’re tired and hungry after a long day of work, then you’re much more likely to give in to these temptations. If you do, sometimes an exercise in portion control is all you need to ensure that your indulgence in junk isn’t as detrimental as it could be. But what if you could satisfy these cravings without sabotaging your weight loss?
The good news is that you can satisfy junk food cravings and still maintain a healthy eating program. By taking a smart approach to your meal planning and food shopping, you can ensure there’s always satisfying food on hand. Often we’re craving one particular aspect of the food, such as its sweetness, creaminess, or crunchiness. Choosing other healthier foods that provide these sensations will satisfy your craving without the excess calories. If you’re wondering how to stop junk food cravings, then identifying the root yearning is an effective first step. Taking an appetite suppressant like PhenQ can also help to reduce those feelings of temptation.
You may also be surprised by some of the foods that you’re able to eat without gaining weight. People have different ideas of what constitutes ‘healthy’ food and what is considered ‘junk’. This can lead to them ruling out foods that are actually low in calories because they believe them to be unhealthy. One study asked adults to rate snacks based on their likelihood of causing weight gain. Interestingly, participants rated the lower calorie and lower fat snacks as more likely to cause body fat. The researchers suggested that misunderstanding about what is ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ may be contributing to obesity. This is why it’s crucial to do your own research and read food labels carefully. It will ensure that you’re armed with the knowledge to make smart choices that are aligned with your goals (and not miss out on your favorite meals based on inaccurate info).
It’s also wise to opt for healthy junk food if you are going to splurge. In the inner battle of junk food vs healthy food, the latter rarely wins. Sometimes carrot sticks and dip just won’t cut it, but that doesn’t mean you have to dive head first into a bowl of fried chips. There’s a middle ground where you can enjoy delicious and satisfying food without undoing all your weight loss efforts. The key is to be prepared ahead of time so that you aren’t caught out with an empty fridge. If you have a few go-to healthy junk food options then you won’t need to resort to a fast food fest.
There are lots of ways to satisfy cravings without the excess calories. With the right recipes in your back pocket, you won’t even need to compromise on taste or flavor. Let’s take a look at some healthy alternatives to junk food…
If you’re craving chocolate, then definitely go for the dark variety. It contains less sugar and fat but has a higher amount of fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Dark chocolate tends to be richer than milk or white, which means you’re satisfied after eating a smaller amount. Sounds like a win/win to us!
Fruit-based ice creams are one of the easiest healthy junk food recipes to make. They also taste exactly like the real thing which makes them incredibly satisfying too. Banana whip is one of the most popular because it’s so simple. Slice up a banana and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes, then blend the frozen slices until smooth. It results in a creamy and sweet ice cream alternative that’s high in fiber and vitamins rather than fat.
Beef jerky is one of the best choices when it comes to healthy junk food snacks. It’s high in protein but low in carbs and fat, so you’re less likely to store any excess calories. It satisfies our cravings for salty foods without the less desirable ingredients that chips tend to have. And because it’s mainly lean meat, you’ll feel fuller for longer too.
Salsa is packed with vegetables making it a much healthier alternative to creamy dips. The tomatoes provide vitamins and antioxidants while being low in calories too. Shop-bought salsa tends to be pretty healthy but it’s easy to make your own version. You can use fresh or tinned tomatoes depending on what you have in your kitchen. Try this simple salsa recipe for yourself.
Popcorn is super-filling so it’s easy to feel satisfied without overeating. Unfortunately, shop-bought packs tend to contain preservatives, butter, and oil which can all reduce their healthiness. But there are more nutritious varieties out there or you can make your own at home. Simply cook some popcorn kernels on your stove top and limit the fats that you add. Instead of butter, oil, and sugar, try adding cinnamon, chili powder, or finely grated parmesan cheese.
Onion rings satisfy our cravings for salty and crunchy snacks. However, because they’re usually deep-fried in batter they often have a high fat content. But did you know how easy it is to make your own, healthier versions? Swap batter for whole grain or panko breadcrumbs and deep frying for air-frying or oven baking. You can also experiment with different herb seasonings to reduce the amount of salt without sacrificing flavor. Check out this tasty vegan recipe.
Microwave potato chips
Making potato chips in the microwave is a quick and easy alternative to store-bought packs. You can prepare the exact amount you want which means you won’t be tempted to overeat once they’re gone. Plus, they contain around 8 grams less fat than pre-packaged chips so you’ll be cutting the calories too. Simply slice a potato thinly and then microwave it with a little olive oil. Get the recipe here.
BBQ chicken tenders
These chicken tenders are a healthier alternative to fried chicken or BBQ wings. They aren’t deep-fried which reduces the saturated fat and calorie content too. Because they are mainly chicken breast, you’ll also enjoy a healthy serving of protein. You can serve them as a side with dip or as part of a main dish with some veggies. Check out this delicious recipe.
Oven-baked fries make a tasty replacement for the deep-fried option. They satisfy our cravings for crunchy, salty carbs without as many calories or grams of fat. The key is to use a high oven temperature so that they crispen quickly on the outside but remain soft on the inside. Here’s a simple but flavorsome recipe you can try.
Frozen chocolate covered bananas
This decadent dessert is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. Yet because it’s mainly banana, it’s full of vitamins, fiber, and natural sugars that breakdown slowly. If you have kids, then this is a fun recipe to make with them. You can decorate them with coconut, sea salt, or even chili flakes. Get inspired with this easy-to-make recipe.
Want more? Check out these 5 alternatives to junk food!
Losing weight doesn’t have to mean missing out on the foods that you love. While traditional fast food will slow down your progress, there are plenty of healthy junk food alternatives that you can choose from. They taste just as good as the real thing but contain fewer calories, processed carbs, and saturated fats. Almost anything you make from scratch will be healthier than something that’s pre-packaged. By having a few alternatives up your sleeve, you’ll find it easier to stick with healthy eating long-term without feeling deprived.