How To Lose Weight On A Budget?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on February 26, 2020

It is no wonder why so many people find it challenging to lose weight these days. So many diet programs and fitness regimens come with a hefty price tag. Not only will you need to prepare your mind for a healthy lifestyle, but you also need to prepare your wallet too. 

Contrary to modern popular belief, you can shed some pounds off without having to spend a lot of money. After all, before the trend of expensive superfoods, fad diets, gym memberships, and workout apps began, people have relied on cost-effective methods to cut down their weight. By going back to the basics, you can reduce that bulge on your waist. 

16 Good Ways to Be Healthy On A Budget

1. Lessen the Number of Food Waste

Food waste occurs at every stage of the food supply chain. That much is true. But did you know that private households were found to be one of its major contributing factors (1)? A third of the food produced globally for humans is lost or completely wasted (2). This equates to an estimate of 1.3 billion tons of food annually. The first step that you need to do is to lessen your part in this matter. You will not only be helping yourself lose weight while saving money, but you will also be withdrawing your participation in this growing socioeconomic and environmental issue. Begin by lessening your budget and buying foods that you can use for many purposes. Some ideas for foods that you can include in your weekly groceries are:

  • Hard-boiled eggs: A large egg only has about 78 calories and the yolk is particularly full of nutrients (3). You can simply feast on a large egg for your snack or consume three large eggs with some veggies as a side dish for a full meal. 
  • Hummus: A delicious dip that goes perfectly well with carrot sticks and other vegetable slices. Chickpeas, its primary ingredient, are rich in resistant starch, and anti-nutrients which are known to retard the digestion of carbs (4). Aside from being used as a dip, you can use hummus as bread spreads, too. 
  • Avocados: This fits perfectly to any diet because of their low calories. Avocados are abundant in fat and fiber. The combination of the two slows down food release from the stomach (5). Avocados can be enjoyed as it is, and used as sandwich toppings or guacamole.

2. Steer Clear of Meat

You can try going meatless for dinner or one full day once a week to get rid of the extra weight and save money. We all know that vegetables and fruits are cheaper than meat. So, try Meatless Mondays and notice the change it will bring. There is no need to go full vegetarian. Meatless meals usually revolve around plant-based proteins such as lentils and beans. A new study suggests that eating beans, legumes, and lentils can lead to weight loss if done at least once daily (6). By consuming 130 grams of these foods every day, people who participated in the study have lost around half a pound in six weeks. It might not be big, but it is still something. If you want to start eating less meat, here are some steps you can take:

  • First, you have to stay committed. Train your mind that even at parties or dinner with friends, you will avoid eating meat. One good trick is to tell people and orient them about the challenge you are about to get on. You will be too eager to prove them wrong when they say you will fail. 
  • Tie another goal to keep you motivated and excited.
  • Do not go all out. Start with a single meal of no meat.
  • Always plan your meals.
  • Be open to other recipes. Chinese, Thai, and Indian cuisine offer vegetarian choices that are guaranteed delicious.

3. Ditch the Organic Every Once In A While

Dieters favor eating fruits and veggies because these foods contain fewer calories. The fiber found in these foods can also help get rid of belly fat. The high amount of visceral fat in the belly is a predisposing factor to a myriad of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (7). Increasing your fiber intake can also decrease the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin (8) and promote gut bacteria diversity. But, would you really be able to save? Organic produce is too pricey. It would be more reasonable to splurge on more meat.  

Well, guess what? Skipping organic produce is okay. Experts have long argued about the nutritional edge of organically grown produce over ordinary ones. A review of 343 studies concluded that organic foods are healthier because they contain more concentration of antioxidants than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (9). Why? Because of the size. An organic apple, for instance, may have the same number of antioxidants and vitamins as a regular apple, but it contains more amount per ounce. Organic foods are smaller because it required zero fertilizer to thrive. 

The point here is that the two types of products do not vary too much in terms of nutrients. It would not hurt you to try regular fruits and vegetables every once in a while. Consuming an adequate amount of these foods can help you, organically grown or not.

4. Don’t Hit the Salad Bar

Nope, you should avoid salad bars at all costs. Not only are they pricier than preparing your own. Not only that, according to a particular study, the temperature conditions, along with the pH range of cauliflower, broccoli, and lettuce found in salad bars could stimulate microbial growth (10). So, if you can whip up your own sweet potato salad, you can do so. However, do not use steamer bags because those fancy bags can set you back a few bucks.

5. Skip the Gluten and Sugar

These two are known culprits of weight gain. One study supports the fact that by replacing sugar in the diet with low-energy sweeteners or other complex carbohydrates, reduced body weight can be achieved (11). Meanwhile, about 65% of Americans find gluten-free foods to be healthier than those that come with gluten while 27% of them consciously add these foods into their diet to promote weight loss (12).

6. Work Out at Home

Who said you need to hit the gym to lose weight? So long as you keep a regular workout regimen, it doesn’t matter where you do it. A study conducted to observe the effects of Pilates on obese women’s body composition showed positive effects of doing mat and ball exercises regularly in 8 weeks’ time (13). Another study conducted on obese Turkish women indicated that Pilates mat exercises program led to a decrease in weight, fat percentage, body mass index, and composition parameters. Additionally, the researchers concluded that the sedentary overweight women who participated in the study also experienced an improved quality of life (14).

8. Quit on Dairy

Milk is known to cause weight gain. In one study, children who drank milk the most have more gained weight. However, contrary to claims that dairy fat is the culprit, the cause of weight gain seems to be the additional calories (15). On one hand, children were able to derive energy from drinking milk.  As adults, you have more options to keep yourself energized so you can skip the milk while you are working hard to lose weight. 

9. Eat Slower

According to one study conducted in 2018, people who began eating more slowly were able to reduce their belly fat and BMI than those who eat fast (16). Why? Because if you are a speed eater, you tend to overeat. Those who take things slowly get to enjoy the food more and experience satisfaction in just minimal food intake. In fact, these people have the tendency to leave some leftovers because they feel full in just a few bites. 

Eating slowly leads to a chain of reactions that improves digestion. When you quicken the pace as you eat, your gastrointestinal tract is forced to jumpstart the digestive process before it is ready. While it is understandable how hard it is to make the shift (especially if you have been a speed eater ever since), there are some things you can try to slow down the way you chomp your food down. These are:

  • Avoid distractions while eating. Choose a calm and relaxed environment. For example, do not eat in front of the TV, or while driving, or texting. Be all there – with your food.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber. They take a longer time to chew and are also very nutritious.
  • Set a number of chews in every bite. It is challenging to be mindful at all times, but practice makes perfect.
  • After taking a bite, put down your utensils. Take a moment for you to take another one.
  • Change the size of your plate and your choice of utensils. If you are not used to using chopsticks, then it will be a struggle for you to eat as fast as you are used to.
  • Pace yourself with the help of a slow-eating friend.
  • Set an eating time. For instance, try spending about 30 minutes to enjoy a meal.

10. Drink More Water

No list of weight loss tips is ever complete without this one. Drinking water to lose weight is no secret. In fact, around 30 to 59% of adults in the US increase their water intake in order to lose weight (17). The big plus is that it does not cost you a lot of money to do so.  Plenty of studies show that drinking a lot of water can induce weight loss and keep the weight off (18). Below are some reasons why something as cheap and as simple as drinking more water can help you lose weight?

  • You burn more calories when you drink water. Your resting energy expenditure increase by about 30% within 10 minutes and lasts for about 60 minutes (19).
  • Drinking water before a meal can lower your appetite. This has been more evident in older and middle-aged adults. One study partaken by overweight and obese middle-aged women who drank some water before every meal has lost 44% more weight, in comparison to those who didn’t (20).
  • By drinking more water, you can reduce your calorie intake by up to 200 (21). Maintaining a high consumption of water can help prevent the occurrence of long-term weight.

Now, just how much water should you drink in a day? About two liters is a good baseline, but you can do more if you can. However, if you are one of those people who hate or always forget to drink water, you will benefit from the following tips:

  • Add some flavor to your water by adding veggie slices such as celery and cucumber, herbs like lavender and basil, or fruits like lemon and grapes.
  • Grab a glass of water every time you go on a bathroom break.
  • Download an app that can help you monitor your intake.
  • Add water to sugary beverages by adding tons of ice.
  • Eat foods that are rich in water, such as zucchini, watermelon, grapefruit, and cucumber.
  • Try some herbal teas. 
  • Fill a couple of water bottles and distribute them around your house, in your car, and even place some in your bags.

11. Lessen Your Alcohol Intake or Avoid It Completely

Alcohol is a drink that contains empty calories. It supplies your body with calories, but without any additional health benefits. Also, alcohol is burned first instead of carbs and fats (22). Additionally, when alcohol is converted into energy, the untouched glucose and lipids become adipose tissue, more popularly known as fat. Also because of its simple sugars, the extra calories are turned into fat stored in the belly. Hence, the beer belly is a legit thing.

12. Stock Up on Sales

Stock up on your favorite products or staples while they are on sale! If you use them frequently, this can definitely help you save money. Just be sure that it will last for quite some time and won’t expire until your planned usage. 

13. Use Produce That Is In Season

Produce that is in season is generally cheaper! It is likewise at its peak in both flavor and nutrients. Also, buy in bulk instead of by the piece. Anyway, you can freeze the rest for a week or two for future use. 

14. Use Discount Coupons If You Have Any

Coupons are an excellent way to save a little money. Just make sure to use them wisely. Sort out the great deals from the junk, and stock up on healthy foods and other staples that you are frequently using. 

15. Check Cheap, Online Retailers

Online shopping isn’t just for clothes and shoes, there are several online retailers offering healthy food for up to 50% off! By simply registering, you’ll get quick and easy access to their daily offers. Also, the products will be delivered straight to your door. This saves you time and money on transportation. 

16. Grown Your Own Produce

Do you have extra space in your product? Have you not thought about growing your own produce? Seeds are very cheap to buy! With a little time and effort, you can grow your own tomatoes, onions, sprouts, herbs, and other healthy and delicious crops! Having your own supply at home will definitely save you some money. 

Home-grown produce also tastes better than the store-bought varieties as they are fresh and picked at the right time of ripeness. 

Take-Home Message

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be always expensive. There are several ways to do it even on a strict budget. Going back to basics will allow you to reap weight-loss benefits without having to spend too much. Start by planning your meals well and making smart choices at the grocery store or online. Not only will you stay healthy, but you will also be wealthy too. 


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