When it comes to dieting, rules can get really frustrating. You can’t eat this and you can’t eat that; you’re exhausted and everything you crave is everything you can’t eat. But that’s not the way it should be. We’ve found a way you can eat what you want, when you want it — as long as you make one simple change. Cheeseburgers, ice cream, and even paninis? Yes, even those. Here’s how.
We came up with these easy swaps that slash your calorie intake. You’ll be able to enjoy what you want when you want it with these simple suggestions. By making these nearly effortless changes, you can easily shed unwanted calories and give yourself permission to eat more freely.
It’s true: Did you know by just eating 50 calories less than you normally do every day you can lose 5 pounds over the course of one year? Now imagine what could happen if you committed to all 25 of these swaps that cut 2,500 calories out of your diet a week.
Double down on your weight loss efforts by uncovering your scale tipping habits. Don’t miss these 20 Weird Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight So Fast.
Swap Out Mayo for Mustard
Eat This: French’s Classic Yellow Mustard, 0 calories
Not That!: Hellman’s Mayonnaise, 90 calories
This Swap Saves: 90 calories
When it comes to sandwiches, calories sneak in all too quickly. Next time, try mustard instead of mayo. Just one tablespoon of mayo can add 90 calories. Mustard on the other hand is often 0.
Make it Open Faced
Eat This: Open Faced Turkey Sandwich with one slice of whole grain bread, 110 calories
Not That!: Turkey Sandwich in Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Bread, 220 calories
This Swap Saves: 110 calories
Sometimes that second piece of bread is really unnecessary. By eating your lunch open faced you cut almost 110 calories. And if you take it with a fork and knife, you’ll eat more slowly, allowing your body to tell you when you’ve had enough before you’ve scarfed down the whole thing. For more tricks to feel full, don’t miss these 30 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full.
Spice Up Your Eggs
Eat This: 2 scrambled eggs with chives, 170 calories
Not That!: 2 scrambled eggs with ¼ cup Sargento Shredded 4-State Cheddar, 275 calories
This Swap Saves: 105 calories
Eggs and cheese do go hand in hand, but they also boost calories like no other. Next time you need more flavor, try a lower cal fix. Hot sauce, red pepper flakes, or even everything bagel seasoning can add flavor without all the calories.
Sip Seltzer Not Soda
Eat This: 12-oz Seltzer with Lemon Slices, 0 calories
Not That!: 12-oz Coke, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 140 calories
You’ve sat down for dinner and you’re dying for that soda to quench your thirst. Do yourself a favor, and take a pass. You’ll save more than 100 calories and over 20 grams of sugar by choosing seltzer. If you need a little flavor ask for slices of lemon, lime, or even orange.
Don’t Go Nuts
Eat This: 1 oz Raw Pistachios, 159 calories
Not That!: 1 oz Raw Walnuts, 185 calories
This Swap Saves: 26 calories
While they are the perfect snack to hold your hunger, eating nuts by the handful often means eating far too many. We know it’s almost impossible to stop at just 10, so, instead of overeating, just switch nuts! For the exact same 1-ounce serving size, you’ll save nearly 30 calories by switching from walnuts to pistachios. (Get them in the shell to make them last longer.) And did we mention that for the same serving size, you’ll be able to scarf down 48 pistachios but only 14 walnuts? Not sure about you, but we’d rather be able to eat triple the amount and not have to worry about adding extra calories.
Limit Salad Toppings
Eat This: Spinach and Romaine Salad with Raw Beets, Apples, Cucumber, Tomato, Asparagus, Chicken and Balsamic Vinegar, 245 calories
Not That!: Spinach and Romaine Salad with Tomato, Sweet Potato, Sunflower Seeds, Corn, Carrots, Chicken, Balsamic Vinaigrette, 495 calories
This Swap Saves: 250 calories
With the simple addition of toppings, salads can become your worst nightmare. Instead of sugar-filled dried cranberries, sodium-soaked sunflower seeds, and oil-drenched roast red peppers, strive for fresh ingredients. Overload with veggies, and if you still need sweetness and crunch try fresh fruit and unsalted nuts. Fibrous vegetables are low cal and high in nutrient value as opposed to the sort of calorie-filled toppings you buy in bags.
Eat This: 2 Tablespoons Fage 2% Greek, 27.5 calories
Not That!: 2 Tablespoons Daisy Sour Cream, 60 calories
This Swap Saves: 32.5 calories
We get that the tangy, creamy, smooth addition of sour cream is irresistible. But for nearly the same taste you can save over 30 calories. Yes, just a “dollop” of our favorite breakfast staple can help steer you on the right track for your weight loss journey. Besides Fage, see our other top yogurt brand choices with our exclusive report: 17 Popular Yogurt Brands—Ranked!
Sweeten with Cinnamon
Eat This: Grande Iced Coffee with Nonfat Milk Unsweetened, 25 calories
Not That!: Grande Iced Coffee with Nonfat Milk Sweetened, 100 calories
This Swap Saves: 75 calories… and your cravings throughout the day
Starting your day with sweetness means your body will be craving it all day long. Instead of loading your coffee with sugar (artificial, or not) try cinnamon. Your morning cup of Joe will now have metabolism-boosting benefits, and you won’t be as likely to reach for that bag of M&Ms later on.
Eat This: 3.5 Cups Air Popped Popcorn, 105 calories
Not That!: 3.5 Cups of Pop-Secret Double Butter, 180 calories
This Swap Saves: 75 calories
Ahhhh popcorn. The high fiber snack can be kept low cal, but only if you prepare it correctly. Ditch the butter, ditch the bags — invest in an air popper. By air popping kernels, not only are you guaranteed to have each kernel popped but you’ll consume fewer calories than most healthy snacks for weight loss. Dying for more flavor? Try red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or even a dash of classic salt and pepper!
Enjoy A Better Ice Cream
Courtesy of Facebook/HaloTop
Eat This: ½ Cup Halo Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, 90 calories
Not That!: ½ Cup Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, 280 calories
This Swap Saves: 190 calories (8 grams of saturated fat and 18 grams of sugar)
Treating yourself every once in awhile is totally understandable. But who are you kidding when you say you’re only going to eat half of your ice cream? Next time you go shopping, choose a healthier option. Healthy ice cream? Yes, with these options you can cut calories, sugar, and saturated fat. Besides Halo Top, check out these 14 Best Brand Name Ice Creams for Weight Loss.
Spray, Don’t Spread
Eat This: Olive Oil Spray, 5 calories
Not That!: Tablespoon of Olive Oil, 120
This Swap Saves: 115 calories
Next time you order a panini, egg dish or burger ask to the have the kitchen use pan spray as opposed to oil and butter! Using “just a little” bit of olive oil in the pan can add 120 calories. Avoid these calories use cooking spray instead. By spritzing, the oil is well spread out and much less is required.
Eat This: Healthy Margarita, 1.5 Ounce Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila, 103.5 calories
Not That!: Daily’s Frozen Margarita Pouch, 280 calories
This Swap Saves: 176.5 calories
Going out for Mexican food means you get to enjoy the drinks too, right? Sure, but let's cut down. Beyond the tortilla chips, refried beans, and loads of cheese the drinks slip in as many calories as an appetizer. Next time, order this healthy rendition of a healthy margarita.
Swap Out Granola for Fiber Cereal
Eat This: ½ Cup Kellogg's Bran Buds, 120 calories
Not That!: ½ Cup Kellogg’s Special K Granola Touch of Honey, 190 calories
This Swap Saves: 70 calories
Greek yogurt parfaits can be a great breakfast, but they can also be a sugar and calorie-filled trap. Instead of using sugary granola, try high fiber cereal that is plain then add some cinnamon and berries to enhance flavor. This simple swap can save you at least 70 calories! This new option will fill you longer, and help your weight loss goal by keeping you from diving into your office snack drawer.
Go for Goat!
Eat This: 1 oz Fresh Goat Cheese, 70 calories
Not That!: 1 oz Triple-Creme Brie, 127 calories
This Swap Saves: 57 calories
When it comes to saying “cheeeeese,” ask for goat. Creamy, tangy and low calorie (for cheese, that is) indulge in this spreadable treat when you’re watching your weight.
Toast Instead of Rolls
Courtesy of Facebook/FoodforLifeBaking
Eat This: 2 Slices of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread with 2 Tablespoons of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 280 calories
Not That!: 1 Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll with Icing, 360 calories
This Swap Saves: 80 calories
When it's a rainy morning and you just want something sweet try Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread as opposed to traditional cinnamon rolls. Filled with fiber, for two slices your caloric intake is less than half of a cinnamon bun. Need some creaminess? Go wild. Add some cream cheese to make up for your icing.
Boil Don’t Fry
Eat This: 2 poached eggs, 144 calories
Not That!: 2 whole scrambled eggs, 182 calories
This Swap Saves: 38 calories
Yes, fluffy scrambled eggs and gooey cheese filled omelets can be totally delicious, but do you know how many hidden calories are folded right into those meals? Generally, recipes call for approximately 1 tablespoon of butter per egg — that's almost 100 calories, sometimes recipes call for the addition of cream to enhance that fluffy texture. But with eggs, less can be more. Try boiling them: cracked or not, hard boiled, soft boiled, even poached provides you with a menu of delicious low-cal alternatives. A simple large egg is 70 calories, with 6 grams of protein! Enjoy simplicity, and start your day the right way.
Try a Spiralizer
Eat This: 1 cup of Zoodles, 25 calories
Not That!: 1 cup of Spaghetti, 200 calories
This Swap Saves: 175 calories
Instead of ordering carb-filled pasta for dinner, check the menu for veggie noodles. From spaghetti squash to zucchini noodles or even sweet potato noodles these veggie alternatives squash calories out the door — a cup of zoodles contains 25 calories as opposed to spaghetti which can contain over 170! Order with your favorite sauce and toppings and before you know it you’ll think you’re eating your pasta, al dente!
Skip the Latte
Eat This: Grande Iced Coffee with 2% Milk Unsweetened, 35 calories
Not That!: Grande Iced Vanilla Latte with 2% Milk, 195 calories
This Swap Saves: 160 calories
We totally get that your morning brew is 100% necessary, but all that cream and sugar? The famously loved combinations are loaded with fat, calories, and chemicals. Try ordering your coffee black. Not ready for that? Add in the milk by yourself, that way you can really see how much must go in. Can’t get away from your latte? Order a smaller size, portion control is key. And if you really need that frappe, take off the whip and save yourself nearly 70 calories.
Not only will your body thank you, but your wallet will too. You’d be surprised at how much you’ll save by ordering a plain cup of coffee compared to your go to gourmet version.
Ditch The Bun
Eat This: Lettuce Wrap, 1 calorie
Not That!: Burger Bun, 130 calorie
This Swap Saves: 129 calories
That juicy burger topped with cheese and tomato is much better off without the bun. Eliminate nearly 130 calories, and be surprised that you’re still just as full thanks to the protein packed meat sandwich. Instead, ask for your burger in “lettuce bun.” You’d be surprised how popular this is, even Shake Shack and In-And-Out keep this option on their menu.
Red Not White
Eat This: ½ Cup Newman’s Own Garden Peppers Pasta Sauce, 50 calories
Not That!: ½ Cup Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce, 90 calories
This Swap Saves: 40 calories
And we’re not talking about wine. When it comes to sauces stick to red. White sauces tend to be loaded with cream, butter, and overall fattening ingredients. Reds, on the other hand, are filled with vegetables, and often have fewer calories and sugar compared to its white competitors.
Veggies Not Chips
Eat This: 1 packet of Grimmy Farms Baby Carrots Snack Packs, 35 calories
Not That!: 1 oz, 7 Tostitos Original Restaurant Style Chips, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 105 calories
Ordering chips and dip? Skip the chips, and ask for vegetables. Add in fiber, and slow down your consumption. Low in calorie, and just as crunchy — they are sure to do the trick.
Swap Your Dressing for Balsamic Vinegar
Eat This: Balsamic Vinegar, 15 calories
Not That!: Sweet Green Miso Sesame Ginger Dressing, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 125 calories
Dressing is a trap. Without even knowing it you can be adding 200 calories to your salad, which was supposed to be your healthy low-cal meal. Try balsamic vinegar instead. If that’s too tart, add a little olive oil to tone it down. Remember that 1 tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories, so use that sparingly.
Swap Your Terms
Eat This: 100 grams Bell and Evans Time Savers Grilled Chicken Breasts, 128 calories
Not That!: 100 grams Bell and Evans, Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders, 186 calories
This Swap Saves: 58 calories
When you can’t figure out what to order, search for terms to lend you a hand. Creamy, breaded, stuffed, No thank you! Broiled, grilled, baked, yes please. Craving chicken parm? Try it grilled.
Choose Your Crust
Eat This: 1 slice Large Thin Crust Domino's Cheese Pizza, 210 calories
Not That!: 1 slice Large Hand Tossed Domino's Cheese Pizza, 290 calories
This Swap Saves: 80 calories
Eating pizza while you diet is not the greatest idea — most pies are made from refined white flour, loaded with calories and known to boost your cravings throughout the day. But sometimes you just really need a break, if you’re going crazy order thin crust. By ordering pizza this way you’ll eat less crust, consuming fewer calories.
Courtesy of Facebook/Chobani
Eat This: Chobani’s Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt, 80 calories
Not That!: Dannon Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt, 130 calories
This Swap Saves: 50 calories
Our favorite breakfast can quickly resemble our favorite dessert, ice cream. Make sure you choose a Greek yogurt that's low in sugar and high in protein. This simple swap saves you plenty of calories and gives you room to add toppings without the guilt. Find out our other cultured cravings in our list of the 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss.