In this article I will go over 5 foods that are considered to be great “swap-outs” for what you are already eating. These are all marketed as being healthier and a smarter option for dieting, but in reality this is not the true at all!
1. Sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes
Starting off this list with 2 foods that are both huge personal favorites of mine.
I watched a video by Jamie Oliver recently (I love Jamie by the way, this ain’t a diss post lol!), where he basically rambled about how great sweet potatoes are, and that they would an amazing “swap-out” for a regular potato. However, this doesn’t make any sense…
This is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp-A8NMAaKY
If we look at the calorie and macronutrient breakdown of the two different potatoes, they are very similar.
One of the reasons why Jamie claims that sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes is their high fiber content? Sweet potatoes have 3g of fiber per 100g while white potatoes have 2.2g of fiber per 100g. That is an almost meaningless difference. Then he tells us about 4 crucial micro-nutrients that the sweet potatoes contain a lot of. Vitamin C, Manganese, Potassium, and thiamin. Now take a look at this comparison:
As you can see, the white potato actually beats the sweet potato on these 4 micronutrients.
Now there are obviously a ton of other micronutrients in which we can compare these 2 amazing foods, but the most important thing is that none of these two are better than the other! Jamie also says that a sweet potato counts as 1 of your 5 daily fruit and veggies a day, while a white potato doesn’t. First of all, the “5 a day rule” is a great initiative, but not really something that we can measure. And if the sweet potato “count as a daily fruit/veg” then there is no reason why a russet or red potato shouldn’t.
Moral of the story: these are both amazing foods, and none of them is directly better than the other!
2. Brown sugar > Regular table sugar
Sugar is generally a huge misconception in our society. Most people when they hear the word sugar, they think “BAD FOR ME”, and they associate it with white table sugar and candy, soda etc. There are for example a lot of people who think that fruit doesn’t contain sugar or that the sugar in fruit is less “fattening” than sugar from sweet treats and sodas. Well, the truth is that that, when it comes to fat-loss, sugars are essentially created equal. Sugar is a carbohydrate. It, therefore, contains 4 calories per gram, regardless of where it comes from. Fruits contain a lot of essential micronutrients that sweets and sodas don’t do, but that doesn’t mean that the sugar in fruit is less “fattening” than any other source of sugar (which, by the way, sugar is not to blame for fat-gain and obesity, consistently being in a surplus of calories is what makes you fat)
So when it comes to brown sugar vs regular table sugar, it is the same thing. The calories are the same & the carb/sugar content is also the same. The only real difference between the two is that brown sugar contains molasses, which is what gives it the brown color.
Brown sugar does contain some micronutrients that your white table sugar doesn’t, but it is in no way shape or form an effective substitute when dieting to lose fat! This also goes for other “healthified” sugar products like coconut sugar, cane sugar or any sugar product that has “raw”, “organic”,”pure”, “100% something”, “natural”, “unrefined” or anything like that on the packet. If you are trying to lose fat, you need to understand that fat-loss comes down to energy balance!
3. Brown rice > white rice
First of all, what is the actual difference between brown rice & white rice?
The difference between the 2 comes down to the refinement of the food. Rice is essentially the seed of a grass species by the name of “Oryza Sativa”. To get into the so called “endosperm” (the inside of the seed), you remove multiple layers from the seed. White rice is free from all the layers and is essentially only the “endosperm” while with brown rice, only the outermost layer is removed, leaving them with a slightly higher content of fiber, protein & fat(slightly!).
Let’s take a look at the nutritional breakdowns.
So as you can see, they are extremely similar. 1g more protein, 2g more fat and 3g more fiber. Nothing to write home about, and definitely not a reason to substitute white rice for brown, if white rice is what you prefer.
If someone asks me if brown rice is better or “healthier”, I usually respond: “Which do you like the most”. Do you prefer white rice? Eat white rice! Do you prefer brown rice? Eat brown rice! Or do like me and switch it up from time to time!
4. Dark chocolate vs milk chocolate
The difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate is essentially that dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of actual cocoa, then milk chocolate does. The calories and macros in the two types of chocolate are very similar, although the darker chocolate usually is higher in calories and fat.
(I went with an 85% dark chocolate, and 34% milk chocolate in this comparison)
As we can see, the difference lies in the fat and carb content. Dark chocolate is significantly higher in fat and lower in carbs then milk chocolate is.
I will say that dark chocolate usually gives you more satiety than milk chocolate, even though it is higher in calories. It is also worth mentioning that the fat content found in the dark chocolate mostly come from actual cocoa butter, while some milk chocolates contain “worse” sources of fat such as vegetable oils. Usually, if you just buy some cheap store-brand milk chocolate, it will contain things like palm oil or sunflower oil because those are cheaper for the company than cocoa butter. So if you are going to indulge in some milk chocolate, higher quality brands like Lindt or Green & Blacks won’t contain vegetable oils, and the fat will come from cocoa butter and things like whole milk or coconut oil.
I guess the moral of the story is that none of these are more suited for fat-loss than the other. For a lot of people, I think dark chocolate can be good for dieting because people generally have a tendency to eat less of the darker chocolate than milk chocolate, and it gives them more satiety. However, if you, like a lot of people, don’t really like dark chocolate, there is no reason to replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate for fat-loss purposes. The last thing you want to be doing while dieting, is to be eating high-calorie foods that you don’t even enjoy. That is like shooting yourself in the foot!!
Granola > Regular cereal
We all know that sugary cereal like Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Cap’n Crunch etc. is one of the things we want to avoid while dieting right? Well, I actually think that that is far from true.
One of the products that are being marketed as a “healthier option” is granola. You look at the packet and it has ingredients like honey, dried fruit, nuts and you’re thinking “WOW, those are all very healthy ingredients. You’re right, but they are also very very calorically dense.
Lets do a little comparison:
So granola is obviously a lot more compressed and low in volume than a cereal like Captain Crunch is, but I still think a lot of people would be surprised by this comparison.
Through personal experience, I actually think that sugary cereal is quite a decent option for for fat-loss. And I personally think that granola is one of the absolute worst options!
Thanks for reading!
I just want to make it clear, that with none of the comparisons in this article, I think one is better than the other for fat-loss. Succesful fat-loss is all about finding the foods that will keep you full and satiated while still being in a caloric deficit.
For more insight in my life, an my approach to fitness/nutrition check me out on Instagram @ifandiifym
Also, make sure to check out some of my other post about nutrition in the category Blog>Nutrition!!