There are easy ways to save calories. Losing weight and keeping it off requires small, sustainable changes in nutrition and exercise habits that last the test of time. Instead of drastically slashing calories, which can harm your metabolism and slow down weight loss, most experts recommend a 300–500 calorie deficit each day. This, combined with regular movement, sets you on your way to successful weight loss you can maintain long-term.
To cut back on calories without feeling deprived, mix and match a few strategies from this list that work with your lifestyle, preferences and schedule. Try these swaps to save extra calories per day without feeling deprived.
Saving just 50 calories a day over the course of a year prevents a weight gain of 5.2 pounds! Little adjustments help a lot.
Some Easy Ways to Save Calories
SWAP A CANDY BAR FOR CHOCOLATE-COVERED NUTS (50 calories)
Rather than getting your chocolate fix with a candy bar (containing 200 calories or more), try chocolate-covered nuts. One ounce of SkinnyDipped cocoa almonds, which are coated in a thin layer of chocolate contains 150 calories, saving you 50 calories. As a bonus, eating nuts can help prevent weight gain, per research in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.
SWAP NUT BUTTER FOR PEANUT BUTTER POWDER (saves 70 calories)
Instead of adding a tablespoon of nut butter to your oatmeal or a smoothie, add in the same amount of peanut butter powder to save 70 calories. Made from roasted peanuts pressed into powder form, it cuts back on calories from fat and still adds the same delicious peanut taste.
SWAP A LARGE FOR A MEDIUM (saves 70 calories)
“Calories and sugar can add up fast in gourmet coffee drinks,” says Vicki Shanta Retelny, RD. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent your coffee from being a calorie and sugar bomb. One is downsizing, she says. Shorten your order of a vanilla latte from a large to a medium and you’ll save 70 calories.
SWAP A LATTE FOR A MISTO (saves 70 calories)
You can also try swapping a regular latte for a misto or café au lait, which is different because it uses coffee (instead of espresso) and less milk, but you still get that creamy, satisfying drink.
SWAP PRETZELS FOR POPCORN (saves about 80 calories)
One cup of pretzels is 154 calories. Instead, Retelny recommends 2 cups of air-popped popcorn sprinkled with 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (for nutty flavor and added protein), which saves 77 calories.
SWAP DIET SODA FOR SPARKLING WATER (saves about 90 calories)
Yes, drinking diet soda saves calories compared to regular soda, but it’s still not great for your health — artificially sweetened drinks have been linked to Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Moreover, overweight adults who drink diet soda consume 88 more calories from food than those who drink sugary drinks, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. Try swapping diet soda for bubbly water with a slice of lemon or lime instead.
SWAP A CLASSIC SANDWICH FOR AN OPEN-FACED ONE (saves 90 calories)
Assemble a traditional sandwich, but leave off the top piece of bread to save 90 calories.
SWAP BACON FOR BERRIES (saves 100 calories)
Whether you’re ordering at a restaurant or making breakfast at home, substituting bacon for fruit saves calories and fat and ups your antioxidants. Three thick slices of bacon adds roughly 170 calories. Skip the bacon alongside your morning breakfast and go for a cup of fiber-rich fruit, like berries to save 100 calories.
DRINK WATER FIRST (saves 100 calories)
Having a glass of water before a meal fills you up a bit to cut down the number of calories you consume, research shows, and could save up to 100 calories.
SWAP EXTRA PASTA FOR MORE VEGGIES (saves 100 calories)
One cup of cooked pasta contains 220 calories. Instead, Heller recommends serving yourself a 1/2-cup serving and toss in another 1/2 cup of non-starchy veggies, like broccoli and peppers to save about 100 calories. You’ll also get extra fiber and micronutrients.
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