You have finally decided to lose weight. You have done your research, read up on the best weight loss tactics, and feel ready to go. But, everything seems so expensive! From gym memberships to organic diets and fancy supplements – it all sounds too pricey for you. The good news is that weight loss does not have to be an expensive affair. You can lose weight on a budget; read on to discover 15 ways to do so.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be expensive. You might want to buy new workout gear, pay for a personal trainer, and stock up on healthy food. Healthy meals cost $1.50 more per day than less healthy alternatives (4). Before you dent your bank balance or empty your wallet, consider a cost-effective weight loss strategy.
Lose Weight on a Budget – 15 Clever Hacks
There are ways to lose weight on a tight budget, regardless of whether you want to exercise, diet, or do both. Take advantage of some of these 15 money-saving hacks.
Come Up With A Solid Weight-Loss Strategy
Are you interested in making healthy meals on a budget to lose weight or discovering fitness hacks that keep you from overspending? Before you do anything else, you must have a clear weight-loss strategy. It will help you know where to direct your time and money to get the best results.
How should you create a solid weight loss plan? Ask yourself “what”, and “how”. What is your intention? Exercising four days a week? Creating a caloric deficit through diet? How will you achieve your goals? By going to a gym? Cutting out junk food? Without answers to these questions, you will end up spending money on stuff that does not compliment your efforts.
Never Let Food Go To Waste
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 31% percent of food produced for consumption is wasted (6). Wasted food is the largest category of waste in landfills, despite the shocking statistics on families facing starvation. The impact of food waste is much greater considering the water, energy, and labor spent to produce food that ends up in the garbage disposal.
What do these statistics mean for your wallet? They mean that you are probably wasting money buying food that ends up in the garbage. Save money by buying food that you can repurpose throughout the week. Before you head out to buy new groceries, check your fridge and pantry for leftovers and get creative.
Hard-boiled eggs are a perfect snack and can later be a great addition to your salad. Leftover brown rice can make a thick, delicious stew. Leftover avocados can be the star ingredient of your homemade guacamole. Have a handful of overripe berries? Easy – make a healthy shake. There are many more ways to make leftovers taste delicious; you just have to know where to look for great recipes.
Ditch The Supplements; Whole Foods Work Better
Your favorite fitness guru is raving about a new multivitamin, a post-workout protein shake, or vitamin gummies. Now you are wondering whether you should start taking supplements and how to fit them into your monthly budget. The jury is still out on whether supplements make a difference.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some supplements may cause more harm than good (3). Why? Because manufacturers use a potentially harmful mix of ingredients to make the pills, bars, and powdered shakes that most people swear by. The NIH advises people taking supplements to find out which ingredients are used and discuss their safety with a healthcare provider.
To lose weight on a budget, stay away from supplements. Never mind how expensive some of them are – they do not work as well as whole foods. Get all your nutrients from fruits, vegetables, meats, and other whole foods. This is the tried and tested source of nutrition for your body.
Stick To The Staples; They Are Just As Nutritious As Fancy Foods
Scouring the grocery shop aisles for coconut kefir, hummus, or chia seeds is not doing your wallet any favors. There are always cheaper yet nutritious alternatives to each fancy ingredient you love. All you need is to get creative and come up with meals that you can enjoy.
If you have a hard time cooking tasty meals with the staple ingredients, consider using meal kits. These come with pre-measured ingredients and simple instructions. In the long run, you save a lot by skipping on fancy ingredients and still enjoying a nutritious meal.
Buy Local Instead Of Organic
Organic food is expensive. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributes the high price tag to several reasons (11), namely:
- High demand for organic produce;
- High production costs;
- Higher standards for animal welfare;
- Small production volumes that increase marketing and distribution costs;
- Mandatory segregation of organic and conventional produce during post-harvest handling.
Although buying organic is good for the environment, it may not be good for your budget, and it isn’t necessarily better for your health. If you cannot afford it, do not stress over it. Simply go for conventional fruits and vegetables. Going to the local farmers’ market is a great alternative. Not only will you be doing your part to support the local economy but also getting some great discounts.
Go Seasonal On Produce
Cooking healthy meals on a budget to lose weight is so much easier when you buy produce that is in season. Seasonal produce is cheaper and you are more likely to get great discounts for bulk purchases. You can buy fresh produce on sale and store it for later use. For example, you can stock up on blueberries, freeze and thaw them to make a smoothie when they are not in season.
It is okay to indulge in the occasional off-season fruit or vegetable, but you may have to part with a few extra dollars. A good way of enjoying off-season produce at a cheap price is by buying frozen or canned brands. These are just as nutritious as fresh ones, if not more (10). Plus, they are sold ready to fix so you have less work to do during meal prep.
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Eat More Homemade Meals
Dining out is great, so much so that you may find yourself doing it too often. Whether you love going to eat at a nice restaurant or ordering takeout, it is more expensive than cooking. A plate of food at a fancy restaurant can cost more than the ingredients for an entire meal. Also, without knowing the ingredients used to prepare the meal, you might be doing your diet plan great harm.
Cooking food in bulk at home saves a lot of money. You can go for simple, healthy ingredients at a discounted price at your local store. There are a ton of recipes online that you can use to make interesting meals.
To lose weight on a budget, you can make big batches of food and store some for later. While cooking at home, you chose healthy ingredients that are in line with your weight loss goals. If you do not know how to cook, you can opt for meal boxes that come in a ready to fix pack. A one-pot recipe would take very little effort to execute.
Give Home Workouts A Chance
You do not have to go to the gym to get fit. You can effectively lose weight at home using various workout regimens. All you need to get started is the basic equipment. An exercise mat, dumbbells, and resistance bands can be bought cheaply at your local store. Furthermore, there are plenty of exercises on the internet that do not require any equipment.
Depending on where you live, you can use your environment to get fit. Go on a hike, walk or jog in your neighborhood each day. These are inexpensive exercises that will help you to lose weight. If you need professional guidance, you can pay for a virtual fitness program and skip the gym membership fees.
Get Accountability Partners For Workouts
An accountability partner can help you set and maintain wellness goals. Whether you want to be held accountable for your diet or exercise, having like-minded people do it is ideal. Knowing that someone is watching you makes it difficult to slack off.
Someone who understands the process of losing weight and getting in shape is the best partner. Choose a person who has been where you are and successfully lost weight. He or she must be reliable and willing to keep you motivated. Don’t have anyone in mind for the role? Look into fitness tracker apps that let you join a community of like-minded people.
Need A Drink? Try Water!
Most beverages are bad news for your weight loss efforts. Some of them also make a mess of your finances – especially when you are out for a drink each weekend. Make water your beverage of choice. Not only is it the cheapest drink you can have but also one with zero calories. How’s that for saving money while cutting down on how many calories you consume each day?
If you are eating healthy on a budget to lose weight, alcohol is one of the worst beverages you can consume. It gets in the way of your body’s natural fat-burning process and is calorie-dense. While under the influence, you are bound to make extremely poor food choices that you will regret later (2).
To lose weight on a budget, stay away from soda and other caffeinated beverages. But, what if you hate the taste of plain water? Use fruits to add flavor and help you drink more. Citrus fruits, cucumber slices, and berries can make your water taste so good.
Eat Before Going Grocery Shopping
Hunger will influence your purchases. In a study done by the University of Minnesota, hungry shoppers spent 64% more money than those who were less hungry (9). Why? Because hunger makes you want to seek and consume food, you instinctively acquire more items when you see them around you.
Before going shopping, have a healthy snack. Schedule your trip to the store at a time when you are satiated. It will help you to make better purchases.
Write A List Before You Go Grocery Shopping
Failing to plan is planning to fail. It might sound cliché, but it is very true especially when you are trying to save money. So, you decide to go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight on a budget. You head to the store without a list of which foods are gluten-free. You will spend hours on the aisles reading labels and end up buying expensive stuff out of frustration.
It is advisable to have weekly meal plans to lose weight fast on a budget. Write down your meal plan and list the groceries you will need to stick to the plan. You can plan your meals based on the grocery store flyer to get discounts and cheap produce. Knowing what is on sale each weak is a great idea.
Check your refrigerator and pantry to see which items are running out. Compare your list with the grocery store list of produce on sale. Give preference to items that you can buy cheaply right away.
Ditch The Elevator And Take The Stairs
Working out is not the only way to stay active. Increasing your daily activity level outside of your workout regimen will effectively burn more calories. While at work, you can opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have an errand to run, take a bike instead of your car. These activities may seem simple but they go a great way in burning calories each day.
Eat Slowly. No, Seriously – You’ll Eat Less
Did you know that scarfing down your food makes you overeat? The results of a scientific study published in the BMJ Open indicate that eating slower inhibited the development of obesity (5). Fast eaters struggled with BMI reduction and carried more belly fat than slow eaters.
When you eat fast, you are more likely to overeat. You are also more likely to get gassy and bloated. Eat mindfully, paying attention to your body to know when you are satiated. You also get to enjoy your food more as you savor each mouthful.
Mindful eating encompasses practices such as:
- Eating at the right time, before you get ravenously hungry;
- Serving small portions;
- Taking small bites;
- Chewing thoroughly;
- Eating slowly.
Say No, Sometimes
You do not always have to go out with friends and family. If you are invited for lunch, dinner, or drinks and you had not budgeted for it, it is okay to say no. This is especially true if going out gets in the way of your weight loss goals (for example, if you will have to drink alcohol or eat junk).
When you indulge in activities you had not budgeted for, it gets harder to stick to the plan. This is not to say you should have no social life. On the contrary, always plan for such eventualities.
The Bottom Line
To lose weight on a budget, you must have a solid plan. Whether you need to cut your food-related expenses or get creative while working out from home, it is possible to spend less. Apply the tips in this article to cut back on your monthly weight loss expenditure.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 Tips for Losing Weight on a Budget (2021, myfitnesspal.com)
- Alcohol and weight gain (2017, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss (2020, nih.gov)
- Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis (2013, bmj.com)
- Effects of changes in eating speed on obesity in patients with diabetes: a secondary analysis of longitudinal health check-up data (2017, bmj.com)
- Food Loss and Waste (2020, fda.gov)
- How to Lose Weight on a Budget (2019, eatingwell.com)
- How to Lose Weight on a Budget (2020, beachbodyondemand.com)
- Shopping Hungry? You’ll Spend More (Even If You’re Not Buying Food) (2015, Forbes.com)
- Vitamin retention in eight fruits and vegetables: a comparison of refrigerated and frozen storage (2015, nih.gov)
- Why is organic food more expensive than conventional food? (n.d., fao.org)