Health & Fitness

April 7, 2014

Pain-free ways to cut calories

Use these strategies to cut 50 calories from just about any meal you’re preparing. You’ll barely notice the difference on your plate.

Use these strategies to cut 50 calories from just about any meal you’re preparing. You’ll barely notice the difference on your plate.

Swap in a new mayo. For a 1 tablespoon serving, olive oil mayo has 45 calories (versus 90 in full-calorie mayo) and half the fat.

Or try this sandwich spread instead. Another simple mayo swap? Nonfat Greek yogurt: This healthy alternative is packed with protein and a tangy flavor. Mayo has 90 calories per tablespoon while Greek yogurt has only 33.

A citrus twist for salad: Swap out bottled Italian dressing for a no-calorie substitute: Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon (or, if you like, a whole one) over your salad, and then shake on as much pepper as you like.

Or give it a Tex-Mex flair. Make any salad a low-cal taco version with this dressing swap-in: Mix 1 tablespoon of sour cream with two tablespoons of chunky, jarred salsa.

Change up your cocktail. If you have a taste for vodka-tonic, here’s an easy switch: Club soda is calorie-free. If your cocktail has just one cup of tonic, you’ll save 83 calories per drink with a vodka soda.

Creamier mashed potatoes: Swap in a dollop of light sour cream and a lump of nonfat Greek yogurt instead of using butter and milk.

Just drink some water. That saying about drinking water to make you full? It actually works. When you drink a pint of water before a meal you’ll eat around 75 fewer calories, according to a study from Virginia Tech.

Less but more flavorful cheese: “Calories in cheese vary greatly by type, but on average, one ounce of cheese has about 100 calories,” says Devon Metz, founder of Fit Health Into Life in Boulder, Colo. So choose a more flavorful, higher quality cheese and eat half an ounce less.

Add this slice to your sandwich. Give your sandwich a bonus crunch with a thin slice of apple, says Metz. Swap it in instead of a slice of cheese, and you’ll save about 80 calories. Or turn your PBJ into a PBA, and slim the sandwich while adding flavor.

Make it a wrap. Give your sandwich a gourmet twist and roll away calories by wrapping protein and veggies in a 100-calorie tortilla rather than two slices of bread, says Metz.

Pretzel dip: For dipping pretzels (or better yet, carrots), switch out ranch or bleu cheese dressing for this mix: Stir together two tablespoons light sour cream with four tablespoons brown mustard.

Bagel crunch: A regular-size bagel can rack up as many as 300 calories. A large apple only has about 100. Get the same crunch in your morning by smearing peanut butter on slices of the fruit instead of the bread ring, and save 200.

Swap in popcorn. When you reach for a snack, go for popcorn rather than chips.

Make your burgers green. When mixing up burgers or meatballs, add some green to the mix: Chopped spinach leaves (or chopped green olives) can add color and flavor to your patties, as well as moisture – that’s especially good for turkey burgers and balls, which can get dry easily.

Make your baking saucy. When baking, keep the recipe moist while reducing calories: Swap half the butter it calls for in favor of an equivalent amount of unsweetened applesauce. In most recipes, you won’t taste the apple in the finished product.

Have bacon. Time for some pork-rithmetic: Two sausage patties can have as many as 240 calories, while two links can have 185 calories. Two strips of bacon, on the other hand, are just 70 calories.

Make the topping your dessert. Instead of ice cream, have just the topping: Two servings of light whipped topping (such Cool Whip Lite) have just 40 calories, versus more than 200 for vanilla ice cream. That 160 calories of savings leaves room to top your topping: Add a tablespoon of chocolate syrup (50 calories) and 10 blueberries (10 calories), and you’ve still shaved 100 from your bowl.

Give your tuna salad superpowers. A fully ripe avocado, mashed, is the perfect swap into your tuna salad – for every ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of avocado you use instead of an equal amount of mayo, you’ll save 125 calories. It’s a food swap that fights belly fat.

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