Ditch the Oil: Why Cutting Oil Can Help you Lose 25 Pounds in a Year


Ready for some Math?

2 tbsp. of Olive Oil = 240 calories

If you eat this just once a day,  that’s 87,600 calories in a year

1 pound body weight = 3,500 calories

That means you need to burn 3,500 calories in order to lose 1 pound of body weight

Or, if you just cut out this daily shot of oil,

You can lose 25 pounds in a year.

For you math-lovers:

240 calories x 365 days in a year = 87,600 calories in a year

87,600 calories in a year / 3,500 calories per pound = 25.0286 pounds in a year

Olive oil is pure fat. Ditch it to lose weight easily

My 5-minute “Get Healthy” Simple Step:

Ditch the Oil

Oil is pure fat.  Because it is pure fat, our bodies naturally tend to crave it.  This goes back to the survival instinct to crave calorie-dense foods like sugar and fat.  However, it really doesn’t do much to add flavor to a dish.  You can get naturally fat-free flavor from spices, herbs, vinegars, and mustards.  You can use different oil-free cooking techniques like roasting, grilling, and steam-saute to create delicious, interesting recipes that are packed with flavor and nutrition, while staying low in empty calories.

Oil-free cooking is probably new to you.  It was definitely new to me when I started my plant-based diet.  Long before I was ready to give up eggs and chicken breast, I gave up oil.  Within months, I had lost 20 pounds, not even trying.  I ditched the oil…and found my skinny jeans.

Don’t be scared, I’m here to help.  I’ve got Chef’s Tips and Tricks for oil-free cooking.  Like anything new, this just takes some practice and might feel uncomfortable.  However, this is a goal that is worth adopting for your healthy lifestyle.

Your goal this week:  Cook without oil at least once this week

Tips and Tricks on How to Cook Without Oil

Cooking oil-free is foreign to most of us.  Pretty much every recipe starts with a couple tablespoons of oil in the pan, spraying on a layer of cooking spray, melting a tablespoon of butter, or rendering a dollop of lard.  While these oils and fats make food taste richer and more satisfying, they are hidden with extra calories that most of us don’t need.  Here are my Chef’s Tips for ditching the oil and using water or other calorie-free substitutes for healthy cooking:

Roasting and Baking – aka Steam Roasting

Skill Level: Intermediate                Taste Level: Nervous Seedling

Use it On: Hearty root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions), Fall Squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti), Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels)

How to do it: Preheat oven to 450.  Clean, peel, and trim whatever veggies your are roasting.  For anything besides potatoes, place your vegetables in a baking pan or on a baking sheet.  Add enough water to cover the bottom 1/4-inch of the pan, usually only 1/2 cup or 1 cup of water.  Roast, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, flipping the veggies 1 or 2 times during the roasting.

For potatoes, sweet potatoes, or “fries”, simply place the tubers on a baking sheet without any extra liquid.  Flip every 8-10 minutes during the roasting, to ensure even cooking.

Chef’s Tip:  If it’s your first time, start by roasting at a lower temperature, like 400F.  It will take a bit longer, but you’ll have some extra breathing room in case you tend to burn things easier.

Chef’s Oil-Free Roasting Tip: For potatoes, roast them on a wide baking sheet, without any extra water or oil

Chef’s Tip for Oil-Free Roasting: You want some golden brown color on the top of the roasted veggies before flipping. This might take 10-15 minutes, depending on the heat and strength of your oven.

Oil-Free Grilling

Skill Level: Intermediate

Taste Level: Curious Seedling – Confident Brussel Sprout

Use on: Asparagus, Onions, Bell Peppers, Portabello Mushrooms, Corn on the Cob, Eggplant, Zucchini, Summer Squash

How to It: Get your grill smokin’ hot!  Seriously, the secret to oil-free clean grilling is a hot grill.  Fire up the grill first.  Then, start cleaning and preparing your vegetables.  Peel and trim your vegetables, but be sure to leave in large enough pieces that they won’t fall through the grill grates.  When the grill is nice and hot, place the vegetables on the grill.  Let them sear for at least 5 minutes, before you start trying to move them around.  If the veggies stick, let them sear a little longer.  Use tongs or a long spatula to flip and turn the vegetables.  You’ll probably cook them about 5-7 minutes on one side, then just another 2-3 minutes on the second side.  However, you can cook to your liking — for more char flavor, simply cook longer, closer to the flame.  For less, cook them less, on indirect heat.

Chef’s Tip:  Get a Cast-Iron Grill Pan

A grill pan enables year-round grilling indoors.  Most modern grill-pans are coated with cast iron.  This allows the grill to get super-hot, while also helping to prevent sticking.  If you like to grill outdoors a lot, a grilling basket can make it easier to grill large quantities of food and to cut your vegetables into smaller pieces.

Oil-Free Saute — aka “Steam Saute”

Skill Level: Beginner                         

Taste Level: Curious Seedling – Confident Brussel Sprout

Use on: Best on “wet” vegetables that release more moisture.  Veggies like onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, kale, and summer squash are the best for getting started with oil-free saute.  They will naturally release moisture that helps prevent sticking and avoids burning.  Once you get the hang of it, you can oil-free saute with drier vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and green beans.

How to Do It:  Basically you’re just replacing the oil traditionally used for saute with water.  Bring a couple tablespoons of water to a boil over high heat in a wide pan.  Clean, peel, and trim your vegetables.  Cut them into bite-sized pieces.  Once the water is hot, add the vegetables to the pan.  Let the vegetables sear for just a couple of minutes.  Then, start moving the vegetables around the pan.  From here on, you want continuous movement to avoid the veggies from sticking to the pan.  Once the vegetables are crisp-tender, remove from the pan and serve.

Chef’s Tip: “Saute” literally translates from the French “to jump”.  Think of this when you’re cooking the vegetables, so that they are constantly “jumping” around the pan.  If you notice sticking or burning, simply add another tablespoon or so of water.

Chef’s Tip for Oil-Free Sauté: Wet vegetables like onions and peppers are best for first trying out this technique.  They naturally release moisture to help prevent sticking or burning

Chef’s Tip for Oil-Free Stir-Fry: Add a splash of tamari or soy sauce at the end of cooking for a flavorful, fat-free stir-fry sauce

Oil-Free Sauté 101 - Broccoli Rabe Healthy Easy Recipe

 Oils Nutrition

Myths and Truths:

Isn’t Olive Oil Supposed to Be Healthy?

That’s what olive oil companies want you to think.  However, all oils (whether it’s olive, coconut, avocado, or cheap canola) are all calorie-dense.  Lacking fiber, water, and nutrition, it’s easy to overeat on these foods…and easy to pack on the empty calories.  Rather than focusing on extra virgin vs. cold-pressed, just ditch the oil and focus on eating whole, unrefined foods.

What about the Mediterranean Diet?  Isn’t the Mediterranean Diet healthy?

Truth.  The Mediterranean Diet IS healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).  The reason it is healthier, though, is because all of the fresh vegetables and fruits that it includes.  Sorry, it’s not about the  bottles of oil and glasses of wine.  It’s more about the fresh salads and hearty soups.

Doesn’t research show that oil can improve cardiovascular health?

Myth.  True, there is research that shows olive oil (and other vegetable oils) can improve ischemic function.  However, this can produce a false-negative, as ischemic function doesn’t not directly correlate with improved cardiovascular health.  A more reliable indicator is endothelial function.

This video by Dr. Michael Greger shows you the research behind this myth.  He goes further in-depth, to examine if Extra Virgin Olive Oil is any better.  Spoiler alert:  It’s not.

What does work?  Eat your vegetables.  Ditch the oil.

References and More Reading:

Calorie Density: Throw Your Calorie Counter Away from Pritikin Research Institute, by Eugenia Killoran: https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/healthy-weight-loss/1318-why-not-just-count-calories.html

Why Olive Oil Isn’t a Health Food,  by Naomi Imatome-Yun, Forks Over Knives Blog, December 6, 2015: https://www.forksoverknives.com/why-olive-oil-isnt-a-health-food/

Is Coconut Oil a ‘Miracle’ Food? by Berkeley Wellness, November 6, 2014: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/diet-weight-loss/food/nutrition/article/coconut-oil-all-its-cracked-be



Join the Discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.