Like the game of chess, the game of weight loss can come with a ton of strategies: “No carbs after dark.” “Cut the dairy.” “Eat less sugar.” And while some of these slim down tips have genuine merit, many of them just leave you feeling hungry and restricted. But that’s not what life should be all about! If you want to enjoy a few truffle fries or a pistachio macaron—maybe both in one sitting!—then you should be able to, right?! Right!
Instead of being so strict, why not incorporate some easy ways to avoid calories when you won’t miss ’em anyway? By making simple, calorie-saving swaps throughout your day, you can easily shave hundreds of calories from your diet—which, over time, equates to major weight loss and won’t leave your stomach growling. Read on to discover simple ways to save—and watch those pesky love handles melt away while still enjoying your waking hours! And to accelerate your weight loss wins, be sure to check out these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism!
WHEN YOU’RE EATING OUT…
These easy ordering hacks ensure you’ll shave 250 calories—or more—from your plate!
TWEAK YOUR OMELET
While ordering an omelet at brunch is certainly a better choice than going for the waffles, egg dishes aren’t totally innocent when it comes to calories, explains Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. “At the diner, order your omelet without cheese and skip the sausage.” This simple tweak can save you 250 calories or more! And speaking of cracking open the truth about breakfast nutrition, check out these 12 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Eggs!
ORDER A DIFFERENT CUT
Next time you find yourself at a steakhouse, order a sirloin tip side steak instead of the filet mignon. Although the former isn’t quite as tender as the latter, it’s a very flavorful cut of protein that your taste buds will love. Plus, the swap saves you 132 calories per 3.5-ounce serving! Not too shabby. To cut calories further, forgo that second glass of red wine and opt for oil-drizzled asparagus instead of the classic baked potato with butter. These extra alterations to your order will save you an additional 210 calories.
SUB IN SALSA
When a chef dresses your salad for you, you’re apt to get at least four tablespoons of fat and calorie-laden sauces that suffocates your once-nutritious vegetables! That equates to 300 to 400 calories, depending on your dressing of choice. Sure, asking for the dressing on the side could cut your calorie intake in half, but asking for salsa or pico de gallo results in even bigger savings: A half-cup of the Mexican topper only has 38 calories!
AIM FOR BALANCE
Sometimes you just need to indulge in a juicy fast food burger or a salty order of nuggets—we totally get it, and better yet, we aren’t even going to scold you! To have your nugget and eat it, too, ditch the fries and get a piece of fruit instead—this is something more and more chains are now offering. While a medium order of fries off the McDonald’s menu packs 340 calories, their signature Cuties have just 35. This swap is a no brainer!
SCALE DOWN TOPPINGS
Next time you’re at a Mexican-inspired eatery like Chipotle, Shapiro suggests picking cheese, sour cream, or guacamole as your topping—but not all three. She says this tweak to your meal will keep at least 250 calories from winding up on your plate.
“If you’re aiming to cut at least 250 calories from your dessert, get a small ice cream cone instead of a large frozen yogurt with toppings,” says Shapiro. You may miss the gummy bears and the crumbled Oreos, but you won’t miss those pesky love handles when they finally melt away—pun intended.
SWAP YOUR CHEESE
Heading to the salad bar for a quick, healthy lunch? Sprinkle your greens with shredded Parmesan instead of cheddar and skip the bread altogether to keep 250 calories off of your plate. If you’re still hungry after you’re through eating your veggies, reach for a piece of fruit like an apple. It’s low in calories but packed with water and fiber, two ingredients that are proven to keep tummy rumbles at bay. And for more delicious flat-belly lunch ideas, check out the all-new Zero Belly Cookbook!
SWAP YOUR SALAD
Next time you’re grabbing a bite at a diner or pizza joint, Shapiro suggests ordering a Greek salad with grilled chicken instead of a chicken caesar salad to save calories without going hungry.
BREAK UP WITH THE BREAD BASKET
We know, we know, the dinner rolls are the best part of the meal. They’re so fluffy. So salty. So warm and delicious. But they’re also void of any major nutritional benefits—and just two slices of the French variety has 376 calories (not including the butter)! Yikes! Next time you go out to eat, ask for a veggie appetizer or for them to not bring out the bread basket. If you really can’t imagine forgoing the carbs, check out these 20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat to find out how to indulge without the bulge.
TWEAK YOUR SUSHI ORDER
To lose weight at the sushi joint, Shapiro suggests ordering one sushi roll with the seaweed on the outside, a miso soup, and a bunch of sashimi instead of two rolls with the rice on the outside. This simple order makeover will easily save you 250+ calories, but you’ll still get the best benefit of all: The superpower of seaweed!
ORDER TWO APPS
“Instead of ordering an entree at your favorite restaurant, order two appetizers or an app and a side dish,” says Shapiro. To ensure calories stay reasonable, stay away from anything fried and make one of your picks veggie- or broth-based. That might mean ordering a small spinach salad and an order of prosciutto-wrapped melon or a bowl of chicken noodle soup and side of roasted vegetables. And bonus: This calorie-saving hack will likely save you cash, too!
CHANGE YOUR PROTEIN
Pick turkey over tuna in your 6-inch sub and you’ll save about 200 calories! Hold the Swiss cheese to save an additional 50. Ta-da!
ASK FOR EASY OIL
The average restaurant dish that’s been cooked in oil is soaked in two to four tablespoons of the stuff plus whatever soggy residue has been left in the pan. That means 500 calories of oil could be lurking in your take-out order—easy! If you request the chef cut back on the fat, it could slash 250 calories or more from your order without dramatically altering the taste of the dish.
USE A FORK
If you can eat it without utensils, it’s likely comprised of excess carbs and calories. Think about it: Burgers have finger-saving buns, sandwiches have bread and fajitas come with those fatty, starchy wraps. Next time you order a sizzling plate of fajita fixings, fill up one tortilla rather than the entire lot and then eat the rest of the veggies and meat with a fork. And speaking of Tex-Mex fare, be sure to check out these 6 Americanized “Mexican” Dishes They Won’t Eat in Mexico.
WHEN YOU’RE SNACKING…
Snacking only aids weight loss when you do it strategically. These snacking swaps below will help you nosh your way to a flatter belly—stat!
1,200: The number of calories in a medium bag of popcorn at Regal Cinemas, according to an independent lab analysis by Center for Science in the Public. That’s a whopping 60% of the day’s calories. And yes, other theater’s popcorn buckets are just as bad. To save your six pack, bring your own bag of stove-popped kernels or throw a low-sodium packaged option like SkinnyPop into a baggie and sneak it in the theater—we won’t tell! Air-popped corn only has 31 calories per cup so you could easily save 250 calories more. For even more waist-saving tricks check out these 20 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Like a Celebrity!
SLIM DOWN YOUR PASTRY
Typically power through the 3 p.m. slump with a cup of green tea and a pastry? Shapiro suggests reaching for a croissant instead of a muffin to ax 250 calories.
GO FOR FRESH
Instead of grabbing a few handfuls of dried fruit to curb your hunger, reach for some fresh fruit. Not only is the just-picked stuff lower in calories, but it also has more fiber and water, so it’s more satiating, too.
As ironic as it may seem, if your daily snack lived in the supermarket snack aisle before it made it’s way to your kitchen, it’s likely not a weight loss-friendly choice. For example, just two Archway Classics Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies pack 280 calories and 24 grams of sugar, which is more than what you’d find in an entire bag of Pretzel M&Ms! Swapping to any of these 50 Best Snacks with 50 Calories or Less can save you nearly 250 calories.
WHEN YOU’RE EATING AT HOME…
Whipping up food at home is usally the best way to keep weight gain at bay, but there are simple ways to make your food even healthier!
DITCH THE BUN
Next time you and the fam decide to have a cookout, don’t put your burger inside a bun. “Enjoy the meat and toppings with a fork and knife,” says Shapiro. Or if you enjoy eating your food with your fingers, buy big romaine or iceberg leaves and create a lettuce wrap around the meat.
GET A SPIRALIZER
All hail the Spiralizer, the hip, new-ish cooking appliance that turns veggies into faux noodles. It’s dieter’s dream come true! A cup and a half of cooked spaghetti has 275 calories while a cup of spiralized zucchini has just 25. And once you toss it with sauce and toppings, you’ll never know the difference. We like mixing our zoodles with pesto, sauteed tomatoes and onions and chopped grilled chicken. For some more culinary inspiration, check out these Three Exclusive, Amazing Spiralizer Recipes!
GET SMART ABOUT SOUP
Instead of eating an entire can of clam chowder with some crackers, enjoy a cup of chicken noodle with a small oil- and vinegar-topped salad. Not only will you save mega calories, but you’ll also take in less bloat-inducing sodium, too! Or better yet, why not whip up one of these 20 Best-Ever Fat Burning Soups?
BAKE A LITTLE BETTER
When you’re baking, sub in unsweetened applesauce for the sugar in the recipe. One cup of sugar has more than 770 calories while the same amount of unsweetened applesauce has about 100 calories. Depending on what you’re making—and how much you eat—you could easily save anywhere from 20 to 250 calories. Note: If you’re swapping out sugar for applesauce, a 1:1 ratio works fine; but for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by 1/4 cup. For even more ways to trim down and improve your health, check out these 40 Ways to Lose Weight in 4 Seconds!
WHEN YOU’RE THIRSTY…
According to Utah government health documents, Americans consume 21% of their daily calories from beverages! That’s nearly three times the number of calories we sipped through a straw in the 1970’s. Eek! To slim down your sipper, check out the tips below.
You knew frozen margs weren’t the healthiest drink in the bar, but did you realize that the average serving has a whopping 401 calories and 72 grams of sugar per serving?! That’s more of the sweet stuff than you’d find in nine—yes, nine—Dunkin’ Donuts Apple n’ Spice Donuts! Order a mojito or a class of Chianti to save between 266 and 289 calories per drink.
SIZE DOWN & DITCH THE ADD ONS
It may not be groundbreaking advice, but portion control can actually save you hundreds of calories. Ordering a tall latte instead of a venti can actually save you 250 calories, Shapiro tells us. Can’t live with less caffeine? You can save just as many calories by leaving the whip cream and syrup out of those fancy coffee shop drinks, she says.
MAKE TEA YOUR GO-TO BOOSTER
Many people reach for sugar when their body needs some instant energy. But many rev-you-up drinks are packed with calories—a 16-ounce Mountain Dew, for example, has 230 calories! When you start to crave sugary energy and are thinking about drinking it—brew yourself a cup of black or green tea, which will have next-to-zero calories and give you a dose of antioxidants with your mini energy-boost! For more smart tea tricks that can help you lose up to 10 pounds in a week, check out the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse!