5 Instant Food Swaps for Faster Weight Loss

These diet "lateral shifts" can boost fat loss and better your health.

May 23, 2016
guacamole carrot sticks
Food Upgrades for Burning Fat

I fly a lot, which means I utilize frequent flyer miles to occasionally get sweet upgrades. 

While I typically travel economy, every so often I get bumped up to first class. Sometimes I’ll ask; other times the airline automatically upgrades me. Regardless, the process feels relatively effortless but yields big dividends (i.e., more legroom).

More: 7 Fatty Foods That Blast Belly Fat

Before a recent trip where my economy ticket became business class (love how that happens!), I thought how upgrading your food choices could become equally effortless. Rather than abstain from certain foods, I ask clients to dial up their choices with nutrient-denser, lower-sugar impact alternatives. I call these upgrades "lateral shifts."

Nearly any favorite food or drink can become a lateral shift to yield pleasure without guilt. Here are five faves that you can effortlessly lateral shift for fat loss and fab health.

sweet potato fries

White potatoes, meet your match: Sweet potatoes come loaded with more nutrients like beta-carotene. Sweet potato fries become a nutrient-denser alternative to white ones. Likewise, lateral shift mashed potatoes to faux-tatoes. No, you're not going to fool your kids, but they'll probably love these just as much. Simply puree steamed cauliflower with a little salt and ghee or coconut oil. Pretty darn close to mashed potatoes, but far more nutritious

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash make an equally satisfying veggie noodle alternative to gluten-loaded regular pasta. Simply slice spaghetti squash in half, turn upside-down on an oiled baking pan, and cook at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Spoon out and you have a fiber and nutrient heavyweight. If you've got to have the real thing, try rice pasta or no-corn quinoa pasta with a low-sugar marinara sauce. 

guacamole carrot sticks
Chips and Salsa

You know the drill: You promise yourself one chip with salsa at your local Mexican dive and next thing you know, you're flagging your server for seconds. Pair with a giant high-sugar impact margarita and you've got major morning-after regret. Guacamole with raw veggies provides a similar crunch to chips and salsa without the fried carb-overload. You can do the same thing at home with guacamole and kale chips, or any of these guilt-free homemade veggie chips.

roasted nuts

Every time you eat, you raise insulin levels, which store fat. But let's face it: Sometimes you're going to snack. Rather than less-than-optimal choices loaded with sugar and other food intolerances, opt for slow-roasted or dehydrated nuts and seeds (try these healthy homemade trail mix recipes), grass-fed nitrate free beef jerky, protein shakes, and my Virgin Diet Bars. Yes, you'll probably have to pack your own, but you'll ultimately save time, money, and empty calories by planning ahead.

chocolate spread

While I don't have a sweet tooth, occasionally even I want something with my after-dinner glass of pinot noir (see how you can drink wine without any of the guilt). Almond butter (or try any of these homemade nut butter recipes) with a little dark chocolate usually does the trick, but sometimes I long for something richer. That's why I concocted this healthier version of Nutella, which has all the original's amazingness without its sugar impact. Fair warning: This stuff is amazing and goes quickly, so make accordingly (From The Virgin Diet Cookbook):

Makes 3/4 cup


  • 1/2 cup slow slow-roasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup slow slow-roasted pecans
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs1
  • 1/4 teaspoons monk fruit extract
  • 4 teaspoons coconut butter

1. Combine the almonds, pecans, cacao nibs, monk fruit extract, and coconut butter in a food processor and process to form a smooth paste, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

2. Transfer to a covered container and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Allow to soften slightly at room temperature before serving.

What one lateral shift would you add to this list? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

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