Forget about trendy fad diets. Weight loss boils down to a simple formula: calories in, calories out. Your weight is impacted by all of those little conscious decisions you make every single day—salad instead of fries, water instead of soda, stairs instead of elevators. Believe it or not, just eating an extra 100 calories a day can equate to a 10-pound weight gain over the course of a year!
Below are some food swaps that will help you painlessly slash calories from your diet—no deprivation involved. Trust us, you won’t miss those extra calories!
Instead of: Mayo
A two-tablespoon serving of mayo packs 200 calories and almost 22 grams of bad-for-you saturated fat—and bear in mind that many sandwiches are often doused with twice this amount. For a creamy spread that won’t break the calorie bank, switch to avocado, which is packed with healthy fats and fiber to help you feel more satisfied. With 140 calories in a half avocado, you’ll also save yourself some calories.
Instead of: Latte
Try: Nonfat Latte
Opt for non-fat milk in your latte and you’ll save 70 calories.
Instead of: Whole-Wheat Bagel
Try: Whole-Wheat English Muffin
Although delicious, most bagels are major calorie-and-carb traps, weighing in at 350-450 calories a pop. What’s more, they often pack in the carbohydrate equivalent of four or five regular slices of bread. Yikes, right? Switch to an English muffin, which has a third of the calories of a standard bagel. Or, try this calorie-cutting trick: cut a bagel in half and scoop out some of the flesh…you’ll save yourself 100 calories.
Instead of: Spaghetti
Try: Spaghetti Squash Noodles
Spaghetti squash noodles are low-carb, low-calorie and surprisingly low-maintenance to make. For a great step-by-step tutorial on making spaghetti squash, check out this page. Trust us, you won’t miss the wheat!
Instead of: Cheese
Try: Nutritional Yeast
“Nutritional yeast” probably doesn’t sound the slightest bit appetizing, but this vegan cheese adds a delightful cheesy flavor to egg scrambles, pastas and more.
Instead of: OJ
Ditch the glass of OJ and peel a whole orange instead. OJ is full of sugar and empty calories, whereas the fruit is packed with fiber and natural vitamin C.
Instead of: Eggs
Try: Egg whites
There are only 17 calories in a single egg white, versus 70 calories in a whole egg. Plus, the whites lack fat and cholesterol. Make an omelet using only egg whites and you’ll come out ahead 100+ calories.
Instead of: Sauteed Veggies
Try: Steamed Veggies
Sauteed veggies are often doused in oil or butter, transforming a previously healthy side into a grease fest. Request steamed veggies (sans butter) and you’ll save 100-200 calories.
Instead of: Flavored yogurt
Try: Plain Yogurt with Fruit
Flavored yogurt is loaded with sugar—almost as much as a candy bar. Upgrade your yogurt by switching to plain and top with fresh berries for some sweetness.
Instead of: Salad Dressing
Try: Balsamic and Oil
Bottled salad dressings are loaded with salt, preservatives, sugar and other weird ingredients. Instead of having your salad tossed in dressing, request oil and vinegar on the side. Good-quality olive oil is super flavorful, so a little goes a long way.
Instead of: Vodka Tonic
Try: Vodka Soda
Tonic water contains a shockingly high sugar content—almost 32 grams per serving! Switch to sugar-free and calorie-free soda water and you’ll save almost 120 calories. To amp up flavor, ask for a twist of lemon or lime.
Instead of: Ketchup
Ketchup is often a sneaky source of sugar and sodium, so switch to salsa for a healthier—and more flavorful—condiment.
Instead of: Pizza Crust
Try: Cauliflower Crust
Think thin! Ditch the carby crust and you’ll save over 100 calories per slice.
Instead of: Cream Cheese
Try: Laughing Cow
Rather than slathering fatty cream cheese on your bagel, try spreading on Laughing Cow cheese—it has a rich, creamy texture similar to cream cheese, but for only 35 calories per wedge.
Instead of: Honey Mustard
Try: Brown Mustard
Honey mustard seems like a healthy condiment choice, but in reality it can pack more than 50 calories in a two-tablespoon serving. Switch to yellow or brown mustard, which is often calorie-free.
Instead of: Sour Cream
Try: Greek Yogurt
Swap sour cream for plain Greek yogurt in recipes. Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthier alternative to sour cream, which contains high levels of saturated fat.
Instead of: Crunchy Shrimp Roll
Try: Tuna Roll
Think sushi is always a healthy choice? Think again. Be leery of sushi options with “crunchy” in the name—this is basically a euphemism for breaded and deep-fried. Makeover your maki by switching to an omega-3 rich fresh tuna roll, which clocks in at a modest 186 calories per 6-piece serving.
Instead of: Butter
Try: Olive or Coconut Oil
A pat of butter is full of artery-clogging saturated fats. Instead, cook foods in heart-healthy olive oil or Paleo-friendly coconut oil.
Instead of: Creamy Soup
Try: Broth-Based Soup
Creamy soups may be tasty, but all that flavor comes from heavy cream, cheese, flour and other fattening ingredients. For a slimmer starter, pick a broth-based veggie or bean soup—it has a fraction of the calories of the creamy stuff, but with tons of fiber to fill you up.
Instead of: White Bread
Try: Whole-Wheat Bread
Bread made with whole-wheat flour is higher in healthful dietary fiber than its white counterparts. In numerous research studies, higher whole-grain consumption was linked to a lower waist circumference.
Instead of: Ice Cream
Try: Frozen Banana
The next time you have a hankering for ice cream, try blending a frozen banana in a food processor–the resulting concoction is a rich, creamy frozen treat that’s similar to ice cream.
Instead of: Pretzels
As far as snacks go, popcorn is relatively healthy. Unlike pretzels, are essentially devoid of nutritional value, popcorn is a high-fiber whole grain. Beware of the movie theater kind, though—it’s doused in butter and salt.
Instead of: Granola
Try: Raw oats
Granola gets pegged as a health food, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many granola varieties are significant sources of sugar, calories and fat. Instead, try mixing your yogurt parfait with raw oats.