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40 Simple But Effective Ways To Cut Calories From Your Day and Plate

Everyone knows that losing weight can be difficult, just like everyone knows that you need to cut your calories in order to do so. But cutting calories can be hard as well. Luckily, there are a number of easy ways to cut back on calories without cutting back on your favorite foods!

Make some of the following simple adjustments to your eating habits and you’ll be dropping the weight in no time!

40 Ways To Cut Calories From Your Plate

1| Count Your Calories

Chances are, you have no idea how many calories you actually eat, nor do you know how many calories your favorite foods have in them. To remedy this, a good place to start when you are looking to trim a few calories is to start counting them! 

Create a journal and start tracking everything you eat and the number of calories in each item. At the end of the day, total up your calorie count and compare it to the recommended calorie consumption for your weight and age. You’ll probably be a bit surprised!

2| Read Food Labels

As you are counting your calories, take a minute to read the food label at the same time. You may not realize just how many chemicals are in your favorite foods, or what salty snack actually has a ton of added sugar. Sometimes, just swapping brands of a product can make a huge difference in the calorie count! Next time you go to the store, don’t rush, instead take a minute to read the label of everything you are buying. 

3| Cut Back On The Sauce

For as tasty as sauces are, they sure do add a lot of extra calories to your meal. And sauces such as Ketchup or BBQ sauce are often loaded with sugar and other high calorie ingredients. You don’t have to cut out a sauce completely but consider looking at the label and only portioning yourself out one serving of sauce instead of just dumping it on. You may be shocked by how little sauce one portion actually is. 

4| Drink Only Water

According to Healthline, Americans as a whole drink a shocking amount of their calories , and this is directly linked to the rising rate of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the nation. Drinking  calories refers to any drink which is loaded with sugar such as juice, soda, or energy drinks. 

When you drink these, you consume the calories of these beverages, but your body doesn’t recognize that it has acquired any calories so it doesn’t make you feel any fuller and you remain hungry. The number one way to rid yourself of these empty calories is by switching out every beverage in your diet for water. Water is not only good for your body, but it is also calorie free.

5| Don’t Add Sugar To Beverages

It’s okay to leave a daily cup of coffee or tea in your diet, but if you add a lot of sugar or milk to either, you are making this morning beverage into another source of empty calories in your diet. Just adding one teaspoon of sugar to a beverage adds 16 calories to your drink. Try drinking your coffee and tea black instead. And if you find that you can’t, then consider swapping your coffee or tea for water as well.

6| Cook At Home

When you eat out at a restaurant, you have no idea how they prepare their food, or how much of certain ingredients they are adding. Restaurant meals also tend to have a lot of added salts and sugars you wouldn’t add at home to make their food more enjoyable. Help control your calorie intake by cooking all your meals at home instead. 

7| Change How You Cook

Now that you are cooking at home, there are a number of other things you can change to help further lower your caloric intake. Instead of deep frying something, try air frying, and swap your sautéed veggies for steamed ones. 

8| Fire Up The Grill

While you are changing your cooking methods, fire up the grill as well. When you sauté veggies, they soak up the oil or butter you cook them in. 

Not only does this not happen when you grill them but grilling also lets the fat from meat drip off of the meat and onto the coals making your cut of meat have less calories as well. Even if you don’t have a grill at home, you can achieve this same effect by broiling your food in the oven on a slotted pan.

9| Kick Out The Junk Food

If you still have junk food in your house, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Junk food is easy to reach for, and usually even easier to eat as it doesn’t require any preparation. This leads to the possibility of you snacking out of convenience rather than out of actual hunger. Go through all your cupboards now and throw out any junk food. Then resolve not to buy any more. This way, when you are hungry, you will be forced to cook yourself something healthy. 

10| Use Smaller Plates

According to scientific nutritionist David Benton, plates today are 44% larger than they were in the 1980’s, and this leads to people filling them up and easily overeating. As humans, we are generally very bad at judging serving sizes on our own. Usually, when you buy sets of dishes, they come with both smaller salad plates, and large dinner plates.

Change up your routine and start using the smaller salad plates for all your meals—which will force you to start taking smaller portions of food and result in you consuming less calories. 

11| Watch Portion Sizes

Even if you are using the small plate trick, it still helps to watch your portion sizes in general. Now that you are reading food labels, you should have a general idea of how many calories, as well as how large, a portion of your favorite food may be. 

And if you are eating at home, there is no harm in pulling out a measuring cup and ensuring you are eating only one portion of a certain food. This is especially important for calorie dense foods such as cheese or salad dressing.

ReadLearn the art and science of portion control for permanent weight loss.

12| Turn Off The TV

Several studies have found that what you do while you eat has just as much of an impact on calorie consumption as what types of foods you are eating. What does this mean? Well, if you are distracted by the TV or other media while you are eating, you are much more likely to overeat than if you were to just focus on the task at hand. So, when you eat your next meal, shut off the tv, put away the book, and set your phone down—you can do all of those things once you finish your meal. 

13| Don’t Feel Pressured

People often feel pressured to eat everything which is put on their plate in front of them—this is because in most cultures, leaving food is seen as impolite. But you shouldn’t feel pressured, if you are full, don’t eat anymore, even if there is food still left on your plate. Some nutrition experts recommend that if you have trouble leaving food left on your plate untouched, that you place a napkin over your plate so you don’t have to see the uneaten food anymore. 

14| Eat Small Desserts

Everyone wants  to indulge in something sweet every now and then, and that’s okay! You can still enjoy some dessert. But just like everything else in your diet, you need to look at portion sizes.

If you have trouble controlling yourself, only purchase the smaller individualized portions of desserts (like the individual ice creams) or measure the exact portion out and put the rest away. If you are eating at a restaurant, only order dessert if you can split it with someone else at the table. 

15| Swap Meats For Veggies

Many people, especially Americans, are conditioned that they need to have meat at every meal. Did you know that a number of veggies have protein as well? Cut your calories in a big way by replacing the meat in a recipe with a vegetable instead. 

Not only is this healthier, but you’ll also fill up quicker thanks to the fiber filled veggies. So next time you want to make chicken teriyaki, or beef stir fry, consider making either recipe just with extra vegetables instead. 

16| Drink Water Before You Eat

Aim to drink a full glass of water before every meal you eat. This will help you to feel more satisfied, which in turn, has been shown in studies to lead you to consume less calories. One study in particular carried out by the Journal of the American Diet Association, found that drinking two cups of water before a meal lower caloric intake by 13%.

17| Start With Soup Or Salad

Just as drinking water before a meal can help you consume less calories, when you start your meal with something which is low calorie, nutritious, and filling, like soup and salad, you’ll be less likely to eat too much of the main course. 

Of course, you need to choose your soups and salads carefully in order for this to benefit you. Pick soups which are filled with veggies that do not contain cream. And order a salad which is not drenched in a creamy dressing or stacked with croutons. 

18| Eat More Slowly

It takes time for your stomach and brain to connect and agree on the state of your stomach’s fullness. Some studies show this process can take a full fifteen minutes. To avoid over-eating because of this delay, eat more slowly, to allow your brain and stomach more time to communicate. If you struggle with this, try putting your fork down on the table between each and every bite. 

Read – How many time should you chew your food to lose weight?

19| Ask For Dressing On The Side

When McDonald’s started carrying salads, a number of people started ordering them because they assumed, they were healthy and low calorie. Imagine their surprise when they found out a fast food salad with a full packet of dressing has the same calories as a Big Mac! 

Dressings can be a hidden source of a massive amounts of calories, so always order it on the side. Not only will you likely use less dressing than if it already came on the salad, but you can also switch it out for a healthier option such as a non-cream-based vinaigrette. 

20| When Eating Out, Pack Up Half

Just because you are cutting calories doesn’t mean you can’t still eat out! But you need to recognize that portion sizes, especially in the USA, are often out of control. Whatever meal you may order at a restaurant, ask the server to bring a box when they bring your meal. Then pack up half of your meal immediately to take home. This will keep you from overeating, and you’ll have lunch for the next day. 

21| Order Two Appetizers

As mentioned above, restaurant meals often have thousands of calories, and one restaurant meal can contain all your calories for a whole day and then some! You can save yourself some calories by ordering an appetizer for your meal instead. 

That way you will still feel as if you had a lot to eat even if you are eating a smaller portion. Of course, for this to work, make sure you are selecting healthy, fresh appetizers and not those of the fried variety.

22| Eat With Your Non-Dominant Hand

As weird as this sounds, eating with your non-dominant hand forces you to eat much slower than when you eat with your dominant hand. So next time you are eating at home, try switching it up, just be aware it could be a bit messy!

23| Skip The Bread

Bread with butter is one of the most calorie dense starters, and it often comes all too conveniently for free at most restaurants—which makes it even more tempting! Try to resist though, and if you can, ask the waiter not to bring it over at all. Order yourself a salad with a low calorie dressing instead. 

24| Adapt Your Meal

Dieting can be nearly impossible if you are forced to give up your favorite foods. So, learn to adapt your favorite meals to have less calories instead. For example, if your favorite meal is a cheeseburger, eat it without the bun. 

Or if the bun is that important to you, each the cheeseburger with only half a bun. This way you can still enjoy your favorite foods while trimming the calories. When you eat out elect to swap out your sides, such as fries for veggies, or a salad in order to further adapt your meal to have less calories. 

25| Choose Alcohol Carefully

Alcohol is a huge source of empty beverage calories, but it can be hard to say no to a night out. If you don’t want to drink water at your friend’s birthday party, know instead which beverages have more calories, and choose more wisely. 

Beer, wine, dark liquors, and mixed cocktails tend to have the most added sugars and calories. Thus, when you order, opt for a clear liquor, with a soda or tonic mixer to keep yourself from drinking excessive calories. 

26| Always Order The Small

When you are at a coffee shop or restaurant, the price difference between a large and small beverage is probably only a few cents, which can make it tempting to order the large. But don’t be fooled, whatever drink you about to consume is probably already over portion anyways, so just stick with the small. 

27| Skip Creamy Sauces

Although they are tasty, creamy sauces are simply loaded with calories and often times don’t include any vegetables. Next time you make pasta, try it with a tomato or pesto sauce instead. And for foods such as fish and chicken, try something simple like a combination of seasonings with lemon.

28| Eat Your Fruits

Start eating your fruits as they come, as whole fruits. Even though a cold pressed or fresh squeezed juice is healthy and packed with nutrients, it is still drinking your calories which your body may not recognize as calories. Eat your fruits instead so that the natural fiber will fill you up and keep you from reaching for another snack a few minutes later. 

29| Switch Your Snacks

It’s time to adjust your snack habits as well. You can still eat that favorite dip you have, but instead of dipping tortilla chips or pretzels, cut up some fresh veggies instead. And when you want popcorn while watching a movie, skip the microwave variety and make it in an air popper instead. And most importantly, watch the amount of salt and butter you are adding!

30| Skip The Skin

Did you know that skin on meats is a source of quite a few calories? On chicken alone, a breast with the skin has 51 more calories than one without. Therefore, you can save calories if you take that extra step to de-skin your meats, or simply purchase them with the skin already removed. 

31| Say No To Seconds

Sometimes when you eat an especially delicious meal, it can be very tempting to go back for seconds. But in general, when you fill a plate the second time, it can be difficult for you to judge how much you’ve eaten and if you are truly still hungry or not. 

If you really feel as if you need more to eat, wait fifteen or twenty minutes after the first course, and if you are still hungry, then head back for a small portion of seconds. 

32| Say Yes To Thin Crust

Everyone loves pizza, and as such, this can be a difficult food to give up. The good news is you can still enjoy pizza! Just make a few adjustments such as ordering the thin crust instead. And if you are making it at home, cut back on the cheese and load your pie with lots of veggies instead of processed meats like pepperoni. Also say no to any pizzas with cream sauces like alfredo, as this adds a lot of unnecessary calories to a meal which is already an indulgence. 

33| Try Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a very good way to cut a few calories out of your life. A lot of people hear the word fasting and think you are skipping meals, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Intermittent fasting could just mean that you eat during a period of 8 hours during the day, and don’t eat during the other 16 hours.

Not only does this give your digestive system a rest, but it will also cause you to consume a lot less snacks, which is probably what you were eating during those 16 hours anyways.

34| Sleep More

According to a number of different studies published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, when you are more tired, your body tends to compensate by making you feel hungrier so you will eat more calories to keep going. Put a stop to this by ensuring you get ample sleep each night. Most doctors recommend that the average adult between 18-65 get 7-8 hours on uninterrupted sleep each night. 

35| Skip The Mayo

Did you know a single tablespoon of mayo has 100 calories? That’s quite a few calories for not much addition to your sandwich! Try switching out your mayo for a lower calorie alternative such as mustard or Italian dressing instead. And if mayo is an ingredient in a specific dressing or dip recipe, get creative and try Greek yogurt, or avocado instead. 

36| Say No To Cheese

Americans are known for their immense love of cheese, and let’s be honest, it is added to almost everything in this country! If you love cheese, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but it’s time to start removing it from the places where it doesn’t add much. 

For example, when you order a garden salad at a restaurant, it doesn’t have to have cheese to be complete, so try it without. And when the server asks if you want cheese on your pasta, just say no, the pasta will taste great anyways. And when you do snack on cheese, look for a cheese variety with a lower fat content such as parmesan or mozzarella. 

37| Eat Breakfast

Although skipping a meal may seem like a good way to trim some calories out of your life, according to most nutritionists, breakfast is not the meal to skip. This is because skipping the fuel right when you wake up, can make you more likely to reach for something unhealthy later. 

So, eat breakfast, but feel free to keep it small, and skip the refined carbs which will have you feeling hungry again in an hour. Don’t feel pressured to eat something that is considered conventional for breakfast, as a sautéed plate of veggies can actually make a delicious and healthy start to your day. 

38| Switch Your Cut Of Meat

For the meals in which you aren’t swapping meat for veggies, consider switching up the meat you do eat. Like most things, the portions of meat in America are out of control. The average steak at a restaurant can contain five servings of meat for the day. 

When you order a steak, order the smallest cut possible, and consider switching the filet mignon for a sirloin which will save you 132 calories (for a 3.5oz serving)! And when you are cooking at home, and a recipe calls for beef, consider swapping the beef for lower calorie chicken breast, or maybe even fish instead. 

39| Keep Looking For Swaps

Besides everything that has already been listed on this list, the best way to cut your calories is by making creative swaps. Although you may have already swapped your favorite foods for similar ones, don’t let this stifle your creativity. Try swapping some entire foods for foods in other food groups. For example, next time you have a salad, try switching the dressing entirely for guacamole or salsa instead. 

Swap your ice cream for sorbet, and even try swapping low fat yogurt for sour cream! Next time you are in the store buying an ingredient, take a look around, as there might be something nearby which you can use in your recipe which will cost you fewer calories. And you never know what delicious ingredient you may discover that you love more than the original!

40| Plan Your Meals

One of the number one ways to cut calories from your diet is by planning your meals. This means you look up a recipe and shop for the ingredients ahead of time. And when you are looking up the recipe, this is a good time to check calorie counts and consider making healthy swaps such as oil for ghee. 

By planning your meals, and having the ingredients on hand, you will be lesls likely to order take out, or to reach for a high calorie snack when you feel hungry.

Final Thoughts

Overall, trimming the calories out of your life without cutting your favorite foods can be hard. But if you start making simple swaps, controlling your portion size, and cooking meals yourself, you may find that eating your favorite calorie-laden snack is still possible. And above all, don’t be afraid to get creative, you never know what new, lower calorie version of a recipe you may just come to love.