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4 Healthy Summer Food Swaps

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Replace ice cream with...frozen bananas

When the sun has got its hat on there's nothing more refreshing than a delicious ice cream. However, did you know that the average ice cream has over 300 calories, and a study by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest found that an ice cream sundae can contain as much fat and calories as a steak dinner. So the next time you feel the need for an icy treat, here are some healthier alternatives. 

First up, you could opt for a sorbet which are generally lower in calories and often have no fat. They do tend to be high in sugar though, so another option is frozen bananas. The average banana contains just 90 calories - saving you over 200 calories on the average ice cream - and, unlike ice cream, they contain fibre, vitamin C, and potassium which can help lower blood pressure, and have no added sugar. Frozen bananas have a surprisingly ice-cream like texture. Simply freeze for 60 minutes, then blend to taste. 

To add flavour you can add in a sprinkling of cocoa powder, or add healthy toppings such as chopped berries (packed with antioxidants), raisins (great source of iron, potassium and vitamin B), pineapple (improves digestion, weight loss and improved immune system), or melon (low in calories, high in essential minerals and vitamins).

Another option is to put a peeled banana on a stick and freeze it for 60 minutes. Then pour on low-fat yoghurt and sprinkle with some of the healthy toppings listed above and freeze for another 30 minutes. Then, remove from the freezer and enjoy. 

  

Replace fruit juice with...fruit water 

Sure, we need sugar in our diet - approx 30g each day according to NHS guidelines - but too much can cause weight gain and tooth decay. So instead of reaching for a fruit juice or sweetened drink, make up your own pitcher of water infused with fruit slices, such as orange, lemon or strawberry. You can even freeze chopped fruit pieces as use them as ice cubes in your water.

The benefits of fruit-infused water include a tasty way of increasing your water intake, promotes weight loss as it contains no calories, and helps flush toxins from your system. If you just can't bring yourself to ditch pure fruit juice altogether, mix up a pitcher of 25% fruit juice diluted with 75% water. 

Alternatively, you can blend your own vegetable juice which is a fantastic way to sneak five-a-day into your daily diet. For example, you could blend together apple (reduces cholesterol and good for your teeth) carrot (anti-ageing and improves eyesight) and celery (rich in vitamin C, promotes weight loss), or apple, carrot and ginger (anti-inflammatory properties and improved digestive system).

  

Replace snacks with...popcorn

Popcorn is sugar-free, fat-free, rich in protein and has more iron per ounce than spinach and eggs. As it's a whole grain it's also a good source of fibre and contains antioxidants. In fact, popcorn has higher antioxidants levels than fruits and vegetables, according to research by scientists at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Air popped is the healthiest option as it's 100% unprocessed whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of whole grain. Not only is popcorn low in calories (just 150 calories in a large bowl), it contains more protein than crisps, more iron than spinach, and nearly double the antioxidants in a similar sized serving of fruit.

Alternatively, snacking on sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds will help provide the essential fatty acids which are believed to help fight asthma, joint pain, depression, dementia, and much more. You can also add them to your summer salads and soups.

 

Replace burger buns with...whole grain bread

Barbeques are one of the best things about summer but a typical white processed burger bun can contain more than 230 calories and 3g of fat. By switching to whole grain versions you'll be cutting calories and sneaking fibre into your diet.

The NHS recommends adults should have 30g of fibre each day and just two slices of whole grain bread provides 6.5g of fibre. Research suggests whole grains can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and help digestion. 

Talking of barbeques, swap burgers and sausages for lean turkey meat which is low-fat and protein-rich, or salmon. The NHS recommends at least two portions of fish each week and salmon is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Oh, and if you can't say no to mayonnaise opt for a low-calorie version.

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