By: Matt Weik
Are you trying to lose weight? Do you HATE diets? Have you tried eliminating entire macronutrients in an attempt to drop unwanted body fat? Well, you’re not alone. But there’s good news! You don’t have to starve yourself or say goodbye to carbs or fat forever. Instead, be specific and make some swaps that can drastically reduce your calories and help you lose weight more quickly.
What you need to remember is that the weight you may have put on did not happen overnight. So, thinking you can make a few swaps here and there to reduce your calories will have you waking up tomorrow morning, unable to recognize the new you in the mirror, is not a reality.
Remember, everything takes time. All of those fad diets that have you removing carbs or fats don’t work because it’s a total shock to your lifestyle and impossible to stick to – and who would want to give up carbs and fat for good anyway? Small changes made over time will equate to significant results in the end.
Here are some of the swaps you can make to drastically reduce your calories.
The easiest way to drastically reduce your calories is to replace empty calories with water. Think about all of the liquid calories you drink daily. This can be anything from sweetened tea, coffee with cream and sugar, regular soda, energy drinks, juice, etc. If you eliminate those calories, you’ll save hundreds, if not thousands, of calories each week.
Over the long-haul, that can save you a bunch of weight in a year’s time.
While powdered peanut butter and other powdered nut butters are nothing new, they can be a fantastic replacement to the typical spreads you find in the grocery store. What makes the powdered version different? The powdered nut butters are actually pressed into a powdered form, which helps eliminate the oils and fats in the product. Clearly, by lowering the fat content, it can save you a bunch of calories.
You still get the same fantastic nut butter taste, only with a reduced number of calories.
Let’s be clear, eating popcorn instead of pretzels to reduce your calories does not mean breaking out the movie theater heavily buttered popcorn. What I’m referring to is the plain (no additional flavors) popcorn. Now, you might be thinking that’s a bland snack to swap just to reduce your calories, but there are some tricks up my sleeve I want to share.
Rather than adding butter to the popcorn, sprinkle on some cinnamon or grab a bottle of something like Mrs. Dash, Flavor God, or any other low- or no-calorie seasoning to spruce up the flavor of your popcorn. There are a ton out there to choose from, and you’ll reduce your calories drastically by going this route.
Even better, why not grab a snack that will provide you with some crunch as well as a healthy serving of protein? MPA Iso Poofs are a delicious and mouth-watering protein snack that provides you with 100 calories, 19g of high-quality protein, 2g of carbs, and 2g of fat per serving. Both adults and kids alike love the flavor and versatility of MPA Iso Poofs!
If you’re a fan of sandwiches, you definitely need to give this one a try. Make yourself a delicious sandwich, only instead of putting it between two slices of highly processed and carb-filled bread, use two large lettuce leaves.
I get it, you’re not a rabbit. But trust me on this one, you’ll love how it turns out. The lettuce won’t add much in terms of flavor but will reduce your calories to nearly zero when looking at just the lettuce leaves, which means the only calories you’ll be consuming will be from what’s between the lettuce leaves.
The lettuce will give your sandwich a nice crisp texture, which is a nice change from the traditional bread you’re accustomed to using.
One swap I tried that I NEVER thought I’d actually like is replacing pasta with spaghetti squash. Now, don’t knock it until you try it. If you prepare your spaghetti squash with some extra virgin olive oil and some garlic, I’m willing to bet you’ll never go back to pasta ever again. Best of all, you’ll drastically reduce your calories by pushing that box of pasta to the side.
Spaghetti squash doesn’t have a real distinct flavor to it, so it really takes on the flavor of whatever you make with it.
This should be a no-brainer, but if you go out to a restaurant, skip the appetizers if you are trying to reduce your calories. The last thing you need in front of you is a bunch of fried items that pile on the very same calories that you’re trying to avoid. Instead, if you want to have something before your meal, opt for a nice salad.
However, be very picky with your salad and toppings. If you aren’t careful, you can easily send the calorie-count into orbit if you get the regular dressing, cheese, croutons, etc. If you’re really watching what you eat, consider going with a light dressing or vinaigrette, no cheese, and hold the croutons.
Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee in the morning? Ok, how about a good cup of coffee any time of day is more like it? Coffee is the most consumed morning beverage in the world. That said, far too many people sip on a cup of sugar with a dash of coffee. What do I mean? It’s simple, if you go to Starbucks, you can listen to everyone ask for a coffee-based beverage that also seems to have three to five extra words in the name.
Those extra words tend to be flavoring, sweeteners, etc., which should all be avoided if you’re trying to reduce your calories. If your beverage sounds like a double pump vanilla frap with a shot of diabetes and whip, you’re not drinking coffee. Go with a black cup of coffee or if you must, add in some cinnamon or stevia to taste. This alone can save you hundreds of calories from a single beverage.
If you’re familiar with the Snickers commercial where they tell you if you aren’t acting like yourself, grab a Snickers, this is horrible advice. Sure, that may sound like a good idea if you weren’t trying to reduce your calories, but candy bars are nothing more than carbs and sugar. Don’t get caught up in the “added protein” claims, as most are so low that it wouldn’t change much of anything. You’re certainly not going to get “jacked” from a candy bar with protein – that’s for sure.
Instead, grab some chocolate-covered nuts. More specifically, find some dark chocolate-covered nuts as dark chocolate can provide some added benefits such as helpful antioxidants. Be mindful of how much you consume, though. While this is a great swap to reduce your calories, abusing the swap and eating an entire bag or container is counterproductive.
There’s no reason why you can’t eat out at a nice restaurant and enjoy yourself every now and then. Despite what some diets say, it’s completely ridiculous to say you can never eat out ever again. But there is a strategy you can implement that can drastically reduce your calories, and that is by splitting your meal in half.
That means if you get a steak, sweet potato, and broccoli, as soon as the meal comes out, ask for a to-go box. Cut everything in half and immediately put half of your meal in the box. Now, you can enjoy your mouth-watering meal again tomorrow, and the cost of your meal is now split in half since you have two meals instead of one. Most of the meals you get at restaurants are nearly double the size you should be consuming anyway. And if you’re trying to watch your waistline, splitting the meal in half can definitely help.
Additionally, if you want to reduce your calories, ask for your meal to be prepared and cooked without the use of any butter or oil. Many restaurants nearly soak the food in butter and oil to make it taste good. And while it may absolutely taste amazing, it will also add several hundred extra calories (if not more) to your meal.