Shedding those few excess pounds doesn’t have to be painful—there are a lot of little ways you can cut back on calories every day without having to deny yourself the foods you want (or having to run 90 minutes on the elliptical after dinner).
But first, some math: did you know that a pound is equivalent to just 3,500 calories? If you’re overweight, most experts say it’s safe to lose one pound every two weeks—so that means you only need to ditch 250 calories each day!
Here are a few easy tips for cutting those calories:
Most of us love our morning coffee, but the calorie cost of our favorite java jolt can be eye-opening. A grande (medium) pumpkin spice Frappuccino from Starbucks is 400 calories! (Nope, that’s not a typo.) For the same calorie count, you could eat an entire bagel with cream cheese. Even a regular coffee with cream and sugar can run you over 100 calories; start adding in flavored syrups and you’re up over 150.
So what’s a caffeine addict to do? Go for healthier options. Switch from cream to 2% milk and save yourself about 40 calories. Switch from cream to skim milk and save about 65! Instead of sugar, try Splenda, which will cut out another 30 calories if you normally have two teaspoons of sugar.
If you want extra flavor, there are all kinds of sugar-free syrups you can try, including hazelnut, vanilla, and raspberry. Play around and find a combination you like—it can save you almost 100 calories per day. Now how hard was that?
You already know that eating Doritos and Snickers bars for lunch are no-nos. But how about using reduced-calorie bread instead of regular bread in your sandwich? It saves you almost 100 calories. Swap in low-fat cheese, low-fat mayonnaise, or even mustard instead of mayonnaise, and you’ve just cut another 100 calories from that sandwich.
At the salad bar, add texture with pickles, black olives, and croutons (at five calories a pop, you can really spice up that salad). Avoid anything that looks like it’s coated in mayonnaise, such as egg salad or tuna salad. And don’t forget to watch your dressings! Instead of full-fat bleu cheese dressing (almost 200 calories for two tablespoons), cut calories and add flavor by crumbling a small amount of real bleu cheese (only 50 calories) on top of your salad and dressing it with a low-fat Italian or vinaigrette (two tablespoons will only run about another 50 calories).
Go for water or diet soda instead of juice or real soda (or another one of those sugar-laden coffees) and you are on your way to cutting even more calories.
Choose low-fat sour cream instead of butter on your potato—surprisingly, it will save you about 40 calories per tablespoon. Steam your vegetables instead of frying them, and then add spices for flavor instead of butter. (You can also toss them with a spoonful of olive oil and roast them in the oven—delicious!) This will save you another 100 calories.
When it comes to your protein choices, you’re probably aware that chicken and fish are healthier options than red meat. But did you know they can save you up to 400 calories too? Just bake them instead of frying and avoid the cream sauces, please.
For dessert, opt for fresh fruit or a light sorbet. Regular ice cream has 140 calories in a tiny half-cup serving (and are you really able to stop there?).
If you follow these tips, you may not notice you’re on a diet—but you will notice a different shape in the mirror!