How To Effortlessly Cut Calories

Dieting successfully takes a lot of effort, time, and—let's face it—stress. But that also assumes that dieting has to be an all-or-nothing undertaking. It doesn't! Each healthy choice you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. But the right ingredient choice can make a big difference in calories—often with little to no difference in taste.

With a little awareness and willingness to try something new, you can make a dent in your daily caloric intake and make progress toward leaning out almost without noticing. Here are 10 simple swaps to cut back on calories!

Upgrade your carbs

Our food culture runs on carbs. Just look at all the processed, packaged, and carb-filled foods that line grocery-store shelves, dominate most menus, and fill up work-place snack machines. Carbs are winning the race hands-down when comes to being the most readily accessible nutrient. Yes, carbs are your brain and muscles' primary energy source. But weight-wise, some carbs are better than others.


The great news about how many carbs many of us eat each day is that it gives us lots of opportunity to switch the high-calorie kinds for their low-calorie cousins. Choosing just a few smart substitutes can eliminate hundreds of calories at a single meal—without making a big impact on the way you normally eat.

More and more people these days swear by cauliflower rice and spaghetti squash, so don't be surprised when you become a fan.

Usual Choice Swap Nutrition Boost
Rice Cauliflower rice 170 calories, -40 g carbs
Pasta Spaghetti squash -170 calories, -35 g carbs
Bread/rolls Lettuce leaves -100- 300 calories, -15-50 g carbs

Snack Smarter

The office vending machine may seem like a nice perk, but it's a perk that keeps on giving—giving you calories, that is. Those chewy candy bars, salty chips, and sweet sodas can slake your appetite, but at a serious caloric cost! You can find these lower-cal substitutes in most vending machines. Now, all you need to do is punch in the right number.

Usual Choice Swap Nutrition Boost
Regular potato chips Baked potato chips -60-100 calories, -7 g of fat
Soda Diet soda -200-300 calories
Candy bar Protein bar -100-200 calories, +20 g of protein

Add-ins with less added

Some foods are tasty all by themselves. Others, well, not so much. So you try to juice up the flavor of rice, chicken, or broccoli, and next thing you know, you're smothering them in high-sugar or high-fat sauces. It doesn't have to be that way.


Next time, opt for low-fat or protein-powered sauces and dressings. By using any of the following substitutions, you can avoid hundreds of calories—and get some extra protein that helps quiet those hunger pangs too.

Usual Choice Swap Nutrition Boost
Coffee creamer Low-fat milk -35 calories, +4 g protein
Sugar Artificial sweetener -50 calories, -12 g of carbs
1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt -160 calories, +10 g protein
1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt -395 calories, +10 g protein

Start Small and Let It Add Up

Take another look at this list. By swapping out just one or two of them a day, you can save hundreds of calories a day. Add up all those calories, and you're doing a decent job losing weight without going on a full-blown life-changing diet. This is where it starts. Where it goes from here is up to you!