We all have those foods and drinks we feel like can’t live without. Soda. Mayonnaise. Butter. Sugar. Whatever your preferred vice, there is almost always a tasty lower-calorie substitute you can use when you’re working to shed pounds—and cutting 500 calories a day can help you lose one pound per week. Healthy swaps can quickly add up. Incorporating these six easy ones into your diet program may help you slim down.
1. CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRESS
Don’t sabotage your diet with calorie-dense dressings and spreads. Oil alone can pack 45 calories in a dressing and mayonnaise-based varieties up that number even further. Popular options like Italian and Thousand Island range from 85-120 calories per serving. You can make skinny versions of your favorite dressings and spreads by using plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream instead of mayonnaise. Or, skip the dressing altogether and instead opt for lemon juice or vinegar.
2. SWAP YOUR POP
When you drink soda, you’re drinking sugar and empty calories. A can or bottle of soda can pack upwards of 150-200 calories. If it’s carbonation you crave, you can get calorie-free bubbles by drinking unsweetened flavored sparkling water or plain sparkling water with a few slices of fruit thrown in. If soda is how you get your energy fix, consider a lean protein shake instead. It’s a nutrient-packed way to fuel yourself —plus, you get to skip the caffeine crash.
3. GIVE BUTTER THE BOOT
Solid fats like butter are higher in trans fats and saturated fats than oils. Even in small amounts, trans fats harm health and raise your risk for heart disease and saturated fats can increase cholesterol. Substitute apple sauce for butter in baked goods and opt for olive oil or canola oil when you’re cooking. You probably won’t notice the difference, but your body certainly will.
4. ELEVATE YOUR SANDWICH GAME
Replace your old food obsession with a new, healthier one. Curb your cheese consumption by including avocado instead of slices of cheese on your sandwich. Avocados are full of healthy fats and creamy flavor.
5. SLENDERIZE YOUR BREAKFAST
Bagels are calorie-dense, but you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite breakfast—just choose a whole wheat English muffin instead. You can load it up with healthy toppings and reap the benefits of the whole grain, without all the calories of a bagel.
6. SNEAK IN SOME PROTEIN
Protein is a key component of healthy weight management because it gives you energy, helps keep you feeling full and satisfied and ensuring adequate protein intake can help you maintain lean muscle mass as you diet. If you’re not a big meat eater, or you find it difficult to get in your daily recommended protein via food, try adding a scoop of protein powder to a fruit smoothie or opt for a low-calorie, low-sugar protein bar or ready-to-drink protein shake.