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Smart Switches

40 Food Swaps to Lose Weight

These simple changes help you nix calories without a rumbling stomach.
40 Food Swaps to Lose Weight
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40 Food Swaps to Lose Weight
These simple changes help you nix calories without a rumbling stomach.

When it comes to dieting, rules can get really frustrating. 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. Cheeseburgers, ice cream, and even paninis? Yes, even those. And all you have to do is implement some smart food swaps to lose weight.

To help you achieve your best body yet, we compiled 40 simple swaps that slash your calorie intake significantly. By eating just 50 calories less than you normally do every day, you can drop five pounds over the course of a year! Now imagine what could happen if you committed to all 40 of these swaps that cut thousands of calories out of your diet each week!

Double down on your weight loss efforts by uncovering your scale tipping habits. And then don’t miss these 20 Weird Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight So Fast.

1

Swap Out Mayo for Mustard

Mustard Shutterstock

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 you stack your lunch, try spreading mustard instead of mayo. Just one tablespoon of mayo can add 90 calories to your ‘wich, but spicy mustard is often zero. No wonder why using the right condiments is one of our 200 Best Weight Loss Tips!

2

Make it Open Faced

Open faced sandwich Shutterstock

Eat This: 1 slice Dave’s Killer Bread, 21 Whole Grains & Seeds, 120 calories
Not That!: 2 slices Dave’s Killer Bread, 21 Whole Grains & Seeds, 240 calories
This Swap Saves: 120 calories

Sometimes that second piece of bread is really unnecessary. By eating your lunch open faced, you cut 120 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.

3

Spice Up Your Eggs

Scrambled eggs in pan Shutterstock

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 in your scramble, try a lower cal fix such as tossing in chopped chives. Hot sauce, red pepper flakes, or even everything bagel seasoning can also do the trick.

4

Sip Seltzer, Not Soda

Seltzer Shutterstock

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 thinking about 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 a sugar-free, unflavored fizz such as plain seltzer. If you’d rather not take it plan, opt for tossing in slices of lemon, lime, or even orange.

5

Go Nuts

Pistachios Shutterstock

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 munching on far too many. Instead of continuously dipping into the bag, just switch nuts! For the exact same one-ounce serving size, you’ll save nearly 30 calories by noshing on pistachios instead of walnuts. Plus, shelling the pistachios yourself will help you snack slower and therefore get full faster, saving you precious calories. 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.

6

Choose Fresh Fruit

Apples and peanut butter Shutterstock

Eat This: Grapes, 69 calories (100 grams)
Not That!: Craisins, 325 calories (100 grams)
This Swap Saves: 256 calories

With the simple addition of dried fruit, seemingly healthy trail mixes and salads can become your worst nightmare. Instead of sugar-filled dried cranberries, strive for fresh ingredients that provide natural sweetness and texture. Fibrous vegetables are low-cal and high in nutrient value as opposed to the sort of calorie-filled toppings you buy in bags.

7

Go Greek

Greek Yogurt Shutterstock

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 palatable experience, you can save over 30 calories and add waist-cinching probiotics to your meal. 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!

8

Sweeten With Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon Shutterstock

Eat This: Cinnamon, 6 calories (1 tsp.)
Not That!: Sugar, 16 calories (1 tsp.)
This Swap Saves: 10 calories

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 sprinkling in blood-glucose-regulating 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.

9

Air Pop

Popcorn Shutterstock

Eat This: Homemade, air-popped popcorn, 139 calories (4.5 cups)
Not That!: Jolly Time Mini Bags Blast O Butter, Ultimate Theatre Style, 210 calories (4.5 cups)
This Swap Saves: 71 calories

Ah, popcorn. The high-fiber snack can be kept low-cal, but only if you prepare it correctly. Ditch the butter, ditch the bags, and invest in an air popper. By air popping your whole-grain kernels, you’ll consume fewer calories than most healthy snacks for weight loss. Boost your movie night snack’s flavor by sprinkling in red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or a dash of classic salt and pepper!

10

Enjoy a Better Ice Cream

Halo Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

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

Treating yourself every once in awhile is totally understandable. But who are you kidding when you say you’re going to stick to just a half-cup serving? Next time you hit the freezer aisles, choose a healthier option such as one of our 14 Best Brand Name Ice Creams for Weight Loss. Picking Halo Top in the same indulgent flavor will save you almost 200 calories in addition to 8 grams of heart-harming saturated fat and 18 grams of sugar.

11

Spray, Don’t Spread

Spraying cooking oil Shutterstock

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 or butter. Using “just a little” bit of regular olive oil in the pan can add 120 calories. By spritzing, the oil is well spread out, requiring you to use way less.

12

Do Taco Night

Tacos Shutterstock

Eat This: 2 Mission Super Soft White Corn Tortillas, 100 calories
Not That!: 2 Mission Soft Taco Flour Tortillas, 280 calories
This Swap Saves: 180 calories

Beyond the refried beans, extra helping of cheese, and and loads of guac you’re likely stuffing into your taco shell, you’re probably forgetting to consider the tortilla you’re wrapping all those fixings with. Before inviting everyone over for Taco Tuesday, make sure to stock up on corn tortillas. They’re gluten-free, pack in three grams of belly-filling fiber, and less than two grams of fat.

13

Swap Out Granola for Fiber-Rich Cereal

Bran Flakes Shutterstock

Eat This: ½ Cup Kellogg’s All-Bran Original, 80 calories
Not That!: ½ Cup Kellogg’s Special K Granola Touch of Honey, 200 calories
This Swap Saves: 120 calories

Greek yogurt parfaits are a satisfying and balanced breakfast, but they can also be a sugar and calorie-filled trap. Instead of using sweetened granola, try a plain, high fiber cereal and then add some cinnamon and berries to enhance your bowl’s flavor. This simple swap can save you at least 100 calories and will help curb hunger so you won’t dive into your office snack drawer.

14

Go for Goat!

Goat Cheese Shutterstock

Eat This: 1 oz Mont Chevre Original Crumbled Goat Cheese, 70 calories
Not That!: 1 oz President Triple Crème Brie, 100 calories
This Swap Saves: 30 calories

When it comes to saying cheese, ask for goat. Creamy, tangy and low calorie (for cheese, that is) indulge in this spreadable treat when you’re watching your weight.

15

Toast Instead of Rolls

Cinnamon buns Shutterstock

Eat This: 2 Slices of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread with 1 oz of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 230 calories
Not That!: Cinnabon Classic Roll, 880 calories
This Swap Saves: 650 calories

When you’re trying to beat winter blues and cozy up to something comforting, try Ezekiel’s cinnamon raisin toast as opposed to traditional cinnamon rolls. And then add some cream cheese to make up for your icing to save an abominable 650 calories.

16

Boil, Don’t Fry

Poached Egg Shutterstock

Eat This: 2 boiled eggs, 160 calories
Not That!: 2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp. butter, 260 calories
This Swap Saves: 100 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 breakfasts? Generally, recipes call for approximately 1 tablespoon of butter per egg or two — that’s 100 calories added to your plate. Instead, try boiling them: cracked or not, hard boiled, soft boiled, even poached provide you with a menu of delicious, low-cal alternatives that are still packed with protein and waist-slimming choline.

17

Try a Spiralizer

Zoodles Shutterstock

Eat This: 1 cup of Zoodles, 19 calories
Not That!: 1 cup of cooked Spaghetti, 200 calories
This Swap Saves: 181 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 spirals, these veggie alternatives squash calories out the door. A cup of zoodles contains 25 calories as opposed to spaghetti, which can contain about 200!

18

Skip the Latte

Starbucks Coffee Shutterstock

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 typical combinations are loaded with fat and calories.Try ordering your coffee black and splashing in the milk yourself to further control the calories you sip. 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.

19

Ditch the Bun

Lettuce Wrap Burger Shutterstock

Eat This: 1 lettuce leaf, 4 calories
Not That!: Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, 130 calorie
This Swap Saves: 126 calories

That juicy burger topped with cheese and tomato is much better off without the starchy bun. Eliminate nearly 130 calories and feel just as full thanks to the protein-packed meat. When you’re ordering out, ask for your burger “protein-style” or in a “lettuce bun.” You’d be surprised how popular this is, even Shake Shack and In-And-Out list this popular option on their menu!

20

Red Rather than White

Marinara Sauce Shutterstock

Eat This: ½ Cup Newman’s Own Garden Peppers Pasta Sauce, 60 calories
Not That!: ½ Cup Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce, 80 calories
This Swap Saves: 20 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, cheese, and inflammatory oils. Reds, on the other hand, are filled with vegetables, and often have fewer calories and sugar compared to their white competitors.

21

Veggies Over Chips

Veggies with Dip Shutterstock

Eat This: 1 packet of Grimmway Farms Baby Carrots Snack Packs, 35 calories
Not That!: 1 oz Tostitos Original Restaurant Style Chips, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 105 calories

Craving crunchy chips and dip? Skip the fried tortillas and cut up some vegetables instead to load up on fiber and slow down your consumption. Low in calorie, and just as crunchy — sliced bell peppers, celery sticks, and sweet baby carrots are sure to do the trick.

22

Swap Your Dressings

Balsamic and Oil Shutterstock

Eat This: Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing, 35 calories
Not That!: Hidden Valley Original Ranch, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 105 calories

Dressing is a dietary trap. Without even knowing it you can be almost 150 calories to your salad, which was supposed to be your healthy low-cal meal. Try Bolthouse Farms’ yogurt dressing or balsamic vinegar instead. If the latter is 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.

23

Swap Your Terms

Chicken Breast Shutterstock

Eat This: 1.5 piece (117 g) Bell & Evans Time Savers Grilled Chicken Breasts, 150 calories
Not That!: 4 oz. (112 g) Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Tenders, 210 calories
This Swap Saves: 60 calories

When you can’t figure out what to whip up for dinner, search for terms to lend you a hand at the supermarket. Say no to anything labeled “creamy,” “breaded,” “stuffed,” and “crispy.” Instead, try anything broiled, grilled, poached, and baked. You can transform almost all of your favorite comfort foods into healthier alternatives by switching up the way you cook your food.

24

Choose Your Crust

Thin Crust Pizza Shutterstock

Eat This: Domino’s Small Crunchy Thin Crust, 490 calories
Not That!: Domino’s Small Hand-Tossed Crust, 820 calories
This Swap Saves: 330 calories

Most pies are made with refined white flours, are loaded with calories, and known to boost your cravings throughout the day thanks to their gut-busting amounts of salt. If you do cave into your pizza cravings, go for a thin crust. Domino’s small thin crust packs in 490 calories just for the bready foundation. Imagine ordering the 820-calorie hand-tossed crust. One word: Yikes!

25

Pick Plain Yogurt

Greek yogurt Shutterstock

Eat This: Chobani Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt, 80 calories
Not That!: Dannon Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 60 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 60 calories and gives you room to add toppings (we love fresh fruit and low-sugar granola) without the guilt. Find out our other cultured cravings in our list of the 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss.

26

Wake Up to the Right Oatmeal

Apple cinnamon oatmeal Shutterstock

Eat This: Quaker Instant Organic Oatmeal Original, 100 calories
Not That!: Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal Summer Berry, 250 calories
This Swap Saves: 150 calories

Oatmeal is a solid choice to start your day with, but not when you’re spooning starch that’s loaded with sugar. Go for plain oats that list just one ingredient: whole grain rolled oats. Add your own toppings such as fresh berries, crunchy chia seeds, and slivered almonds to round out the meal with flavor and texture without relying on the belly-ballooning sweet stuff.

27

Pick a Different Dairy-Free Milk

Almond milk Shutterstock

Eat This: So Delicious Unsweetened Organic Almond Milk with Cashew, 35 calories
Not That!: Silk Vanilla Almond Milk, 80 calories
This Swap Saves: 45 calories

Drench your fiber-rich flakes with So Delicious’ nut milk instead of Silk’s sweetened almond milk and cut 45 calories and — get this — 13 grams of sugar! That’s more than half your day’s worth of added sugars saved by this effortless swap.

28

Rethink Your Protein Bar

Chocolate Protein Bar Shutterstock

Eat This: BeachBar Chocolate Cherry, 150 calories
Not That!: PowerBar Peanut Butter, 230 calories
This Swap Saves: 80 calories

When you’re looking to refuel on the fly, nothing’s worse than biting into a caloric post-workout snack and undoing all those floors you climbed on the Stairmaster. Satisfy your cocoa cravings and satiate a rumbling tummy with 10 grams of metabolism-igniting protein for only 150 calories. Plus, you’ll save a shocking 20 grams of sugar by making this mindless switch.

29

Try PB Powder

Woman spreading peanut butter on bread Shutterstock

Eat This: PB2, 50 calories
Not That!: Jif Creamy Peanut Butter, 190 calories
This Swap Saves: 145 calories

In the mood to slather some apple slices with peanut butter? Rather than fretting the nearly 200-calorie per two-tablespoon serving, try stirring some PB2 peanut powder. The powder achieves its slimming nutrition panel by roasting and pressing the peanuts to remove 85 percent of the fat and calories. While the powder is definitely a healthy and less-caloric alternative to traditional peanut butter, PB’s saturated unsaturated fats can also help you lose weight — as long as you use the creamy spread sparingly.

30

Watch Out for Happy Hour

Happy hour with friends Shutterstock

Eat This: Merlot, 122 calories
Not That!: Margarita, 310 calories
This Swap Saves: 188 calories

Applebee’s Perfect Margarita is the farthest thing from ideal for weight loss. Hit up the restaurant chain for just two margs and you’ll ingest over 600 calories! If you opt for a glass of merlot, not only will the choice help you cinch your waistline by saving cals, you’ll also benefit from the vino’s many benefits including longevity, reduced risk of heart disease, and even protection against tooth decay.

31

Squirt Low-Sugar Ketchup

Hot dog bun ketchup Shutterstock

Eat This: True Made Foods Vegetable Ketchup, 10 calories
Not That!: Heinz Ketchup, 20 calories
This Swap Saves: 10 calories

We know what you’re thinking—how will just 10 calories help you lose weight? When it comes to shedding the spare tire for good, every calorie counts. And in the case of ketchup, we’re usually squirting way more than the suggested one-tablespoon serving size. And get this: While Heinz’ classic tub is packed with high fructose corn syrup, True Made Foods’ jar opts for sweetening its ketchup with butternut squash and carrots.

32

Marinate Meats With Mustard Over BBQ Sauce

Chicken tenders mustard Shutterstock

Eat This: Mustard, 0 calories
Not That!: Kraft Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce, 50 calories
This Swap Saves: 50 calories

“Sugar is added to condiments, such as barbecue sauce, to help give it that sweet taste we all enjoy, but it also acts a preservative,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, and Hass Avocado Goodness expert tells us in 12 Hidden Sources of Sugar at Your Barbecue (And How to Avoid Them). Mustard has virtually no calories and can add a boatload of flavor to your summer cookouts.

33

Pour Light Juice

Orange juice Shutterstock

Eat This: Simply Light Orange, 50 calories
Not That!: Tropicana Pure Premium Original, 110 calories
This Swap Saves: 60 calories

Whether you’re pouring a glass of juice to go along with your omelet or stirring up a screwdriver, choosing the light orange juice is your best bet. Simply Light’s pulp-free orange juice packs in a lowly 50 calories per cup, slimming down everything from breakfast to nightcaps.

34

Fork Into Tuna In Water

Tuna canned Shutterstock

Eat This: Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna In Water, 50 calories
Not That!: Bumble Bee Chunk White Albacore In Oil, 80 calories
This Swap Saves: 30 calories

Instead of choosing to take your tuna marinated in oil, go for a can that preserves the heart-healthy fish in water. You’ll slash 30 calories per serving as well as vegetable oil, which has been linked to metabolic diseases. One study in the British Medical Journal found that consuming too much vegetable oil may actually increase your risk of heart disease.

35

Choose Chicken Breast

Cooked chicken breast Shutterstock

Eat This: Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast, 120 calories (100 grams)
Not That!: Chicken Drumstick with Skin, 161 calories
This Swap Saves: 41 calories

Want more protein and less fat on your dinner plate? A 3.5-ounce portion of skinless chicken breast packs in 22.5 grams of protein and less than 3 grams fat while the dark meat in a drumstick contains 161 calories and over 9 grams of fat!

36

Dig Into a Better Frozen Dinner

Frozen dinners Shutterstock

Eat This: Veestro Portobello Steak Dinner, 270 calories
Not That!: Marie Callender’s Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie, 510 calories
This Swap Saves: 240 calories

Marie Callender’s meaty pot pie serves up sketchy ingredients such as nitrites, caramel color, and interesterified soybean oil. If you’re short on time and need dinner on the table in a jiffy, opt for one of Veestro’s beyond delicious plant-based meals. The Portobello Steak Dinner boasts a hearty texture that will crush your rib-eye cravings without tipping the scale in the wrong direction.

37

Caffeinate With This Cold Brew

Cold brew Shutterstock

Eat This: La Colombe Pure Black Cold Brew, 5 calories
Not That!: Gold Peak Salted Caramel Cold Brew Coffee, 270 calories
This Swap Saves: 265 calories

We know you need your a.m. jolt, so we’re advising you pick up the low-sugar bottle at the bodega. Gold Peak’s salted caramel blend sounds like liquid dessert and it’s got the sugar count to justify it (53 grams per bottle—yikes!). If you’re looking to trim the love handles, a pure black blend with no added sugars, like La Colombe’s, would be your best bet.

38

Indulge in Cookie Thins

Cookie thins Whitney Wright/Unsplash

Eat This: Nonni’s Chocolate Chip Artisan Thin Cookies, Double Chocolate, 90 calories
Not That!: Mrs. Fields Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookies, 140 calories
This Swap Saves: 50 calories

Instead of dunking Mrs. Fields into a glass of milk, shave 50 calories off your post-dinner dessert with Nonni’s portioned cookie thins. They’re crunchy, satisfying, and are baked with real ingredients including coconut oil and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

39

Go for Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice Shutterstock

Eat This: Organic Riced Cauliflower, 30 calories (¾ cup)
Not That!: Jasmine Rice, 160 calories (¼ cup dry)
This Swap Saves: 130 calories

It’s a ubiquitous trend for a reason: Ricing the fiber-filled veggie instead of boiling a pot of regular rice can help you shave calories off your lunch and nourish your body with vitamin C, potassium, and even plant-based protein. Plus, riced cauliflower’s texture is so similar to the grain that you’ll barely notice the difference. Feel free to coat the veggie with a lycopene-rich red sauce and a sprinkle of cheese for an unbelievably guit-free meal.

40

Order a Tall Instead of a Venti

Starbucks coffee cup mangpor2004/Shutterstock

Eat This: Tall, Skim Vanilla Latte, 150 calories
Not That!: Venti, Skim Vanilla Latte, 250 calories
This Swap Saves: 100 calories

When you’re at the Bux, there’s no better way to slim down your java order than by opting for a shorter cup. Even if you sip a milky flavored latte, choosing the Tall over the Venti will save 100 calories from your day’s budget. Want to slash the cals even further? Go for the Short cup—you’ll save another 50 calories and get the same amount of productivity-inducing caffeine. For more ways to stay slim at the coffee shop, check out these 28 Starbucks Items that Diet Experts Love.

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