Want to lose weight but keep coming across pricey solutions? One of the most common complaints that overweight or obese people have is that weight loss methods are not suitable for their budget, but that doesn't have to stop you. In fact, you have plenty of weight-loss options, even if you're on a tight budget. What are they? Throughout this post, you are going to learn how to lose weight on a budget and reach your body goal through simple and cheap solutions.
Eat at home
Most people are inclined to eat at restaurants and diners because it feels easier and faster, especially after a long day at work. A seemingly innocent habit like eating at a restaurant can still impair your weight loss efforts and, of course, wreak havoc on your budget. Staying home and eating a home-cooked meal is a budget-friendly solution that also happens to contribute to your weight loss. You’ll be happy to know this is a scientifically proven fact.
The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity published a study that found that eating home-cooked meals more frequently was associated with greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and DASH. People who ate home-cooked meals also consumed more fruits and vegetables than their counterparts. Additionally, more frequent intake of home-cooked meals was related to a greater likelihood of having a healthy and normal BMI and normal body fat percentage. More precisely, people who ate home-cooked meals were 28% less likely to be overweight (1). Cooking your own meals is a great way to save money and lose weight.
Eat whole foods, not replacements
Figures show that more than $2 billion a year on weight-loss supplements (2), natural products that suppress appetite, increase fat burning, and contribute to a healthy and consistent weight loss. Besides weight loss supplements, people also use other products that are meant to “replace” the actual meal. All these products are pricy, especially if you want a good one. In order to lose weight when on a budget, it's more practical to stick to the old-fashioned route i.e., eating whole foods. The goal is not to banish food and starve yourself, but to modify eating habits and focus on healthy meals.
Don’t waste your food
An average US family of four wastes $1500 worth of food each year or more precisely, 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten (3). We buy foods that spoil before we eat them, or we cook too much and end up throwing most of it in the trash. A well-known fact is that most of us are irresponsible with food. Spending a lot of money on food that goes to waste is bad for our budget. To compensate for that, many people opt for fast food and other unhealthy options that don't go bad quickly. So, what to do about this particular problem? You can save at least $100 each month just by buying foods that you can repurpose easily for different meals during the week. For example, you can hard-boil eggs at the beginning of the week for a breakfast or snack and then repurpose them to a salad topper later in the week. That’s just one example of how you can eat healthily, maintain or lose weight, and save up some money.
Exercise at home
It’s not uncommon for men and women to be discouraged by high prices of gym memberships. But, just because paying the gym membership doesn’t fit into the budget, it doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You don’t need the gym to get some exercise; options are endless. And yes, exercise is important. While most of us would like to slim down without having to move a muscle, the reality is that regular physical activity promotes weight loss (4), and it's an irreplaceable part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is not just for weight loss, and it also keeps you healthy and strong. So, instead of paying gym membership, you can jog, exercise at home or in a park, and increase activity levels on a daily basis. Take the stairs instead of an elevator, don’t park near so that you can walk to work, stand up frequently, do house chores, don’t drive when going to the store, do exercises while watching TV.
Couponing has become a great way to save money, and millions of Americans do it. If you're not one of them, it's time to start. The reason is simple; couponing is a simple and easy technique to buy healthy groceries and save money. Nowadays supermarkets and other stores have coupons for, pretty much, everything. If you find healthy items expensive, this is a great way to buy them and save up. Clipping coupons is yet another budget-friendly solution to slim down. You'll spend less money on food and, at the same time, buy a greater quantity of healthy items that will keep you full and prevent overeating.
Do you have a drink or two after work? Some people go to the bar while others prefer drinking at home. We spend a lot of money on a monthly and yearly basis, regardless of the option. And it’s also worth mentioning that alcohol consumption is considered one of the risk factors for overweight and obesity (5). Therefore, in order to lose weight when on the budget, you should definitely consider cutting down or even avoiding alcohol. Consumption of alcohol is a risk factor for many diseases and health conditions in addition to the consequences felt by your wallet. This way, you can make your lifestyle healthier, support weight loss, and save some money.
Alcohol isn't the only bad habit that affects our budget and weight, and smoking does the same. According to the CDC, 14% of all adults or 34.3 million Americans are smokers. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking (6). Americans spend over $80 billion on cigarettes each year. Smoking speeds up the aging process, has a negative effect on the lungs, contributes to cardiovascular diseases, and it also has a strong relationship with weight gain (7). Buying cigarettes is an expensive and unhealthy habit that you should consider eliminating. Quitting smoking can also contribute to weight management when done in the right way. Consult your healthcare provider who will inform you about the best strategies for smoking cessation. The point is not to use junk food to compensate for cigarettes. Quitting smoking will give you a healthier lifestyle, and it will also improve your budget while aiding weight management.
Ditch store-bought juices drink water
Chances are high you have a store-bought juice (or a few bottles) in your fridge right now. Or maybe you have Coke or some other beverages as well. We spend money on juices and sodas although they’re not quite healthy. We are led by the label, which says juice is made of orange, apples, peach, or other fruits and completely disregards the fact that most store-bought juices are sugar-laden. The same applies to store-bought smoothies and even energy drinks. All these things can contribute to weight gain. And let’s not forget that buying them regularly costs a lot of money in the long run. Staying hydrated is important for weight loss, but water is the best for this purpose. A growing body of evidence confirms that water reduces energy intake and prevents obesity (8). And the best thing of all is that water is free. Our body needs water to function properly. Our skin also needs water to stay healthy and youthful. Drinking water instead of store-bought juices is an easy and budget-friendly way to support weight loss efforts.
Eat from a smaller plate
A common reason why many people gain weight is the tendency to overeat. In fact, overeating is the reason why it can be difficult to slim down to many women and men. A practical way to combat this problem is to eat from a smaller plate. Portion control helps you eat less and thereby avoid overeating. Your brain is compelled to eat everything from a plate, even when the body is not hungry anymore. The smaller plate allows you to avoid that scenario. Here's yet another reason to eat from a smaller plate; you'll cook less food, won't waste food, and at the same time, you'll also spend less money on groceries.
Bring your own snacks
What do you do when you're hungry at work? You probably head to the vending machine to get some snacks. These snacks are cheap when buying them from time to time. But if you do it on a regular basis, you'll realize it's not exactly the cheapest way to eliminate hunger. And let's not forget the fact that most snacks are unhealthy, too salty, and contribute to water retention. What to do then? It's quite simple actually; bring your own snacks from home. Instead of fries and chips, you can eat baby carrots and celery sticks or some other healthy snack. These snacks will fill you up but also support your weight loss, and you won't end up wasting your money on a vending machine.
Try meal prepping
Remember the first point in this article, which stated that eating at home can help you lose weight? As you're already aware, we spend too much money on food that ends up in waste. Meal prepping can help prevent food waste, and it also allows you to have a home-cooked meal every day. Start by planning your meals for the upcoming week. Studies confirm that meal planning is associated with less obesity (9). When you plan and prepare meals for a few days ahead, you won't waste your food. This strategy is a great option for people who want to learn how to lose weight on a budget.
Choose budget-friendly proteins
Protein is a macronutrient our body needs to stay strong and healthy. We need protein for muscles, energy, and many other functions. Although most people eat protein to preserve or gain more muscles, we shouldn’t forget that this nutrient is crucial for weight management (10). Protein can suppress the appetite and make you feel full for a long time. As a result, you do not overeat and manage to slim down. Protein is particularly important for your muscles when exercising. The best sources of protein are grass-fed beef and wild salmon, which can be quite pricey for people on a budget. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to get more protein without spending too much money. All you need to do is to choose budget-friendly proteins such as those in beans, canned tuna, ground turkey. You can also make bean-based soups and stews, tuna avocado egg salad, and other delicious, healthy, and budget-friendly meals.
Other things to do
- Buy canned and frozen vegetables
- When buying fresh produce choose in-season kinds
- Limit intake of premade meals from the store
- Buy store brands
- Don’t buy groceries when hungry
- Chew your food slowly and thoroughly
- Eat more fruits and vegetables than meat
- Avoid sugar-laden products and candies, and we unknowingly spend more money on these things than we think we do
If you have ever wondered how to lose weight on a budget, this article provided some practical ideas you may want to consider. When it comes to losing weight on a tight budget, the point is to make wise shopping choices. Buy your foods carefully, cook meals at home, and replace the gym with home workouts and jogging. Simple and practical lifestyle adjustments mean a lot for your wallet and body weight. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. It can also help to keep a food journal to track your food intake and identify your strengths and weaknesses for even better results. All tips mentioned above are easy to implement.