10 Easy Food Swaps for Cutting 500 Calories a Day

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Easy Food Swaps that Get Big Results

We are really excited for this highly actionable article from Muscle and Strength contributor Demmy James. This nutrition piece breaks down how you can make easy, small food swaps in order to help save yourself from eating 500+ calories a day! That can add up fast and is some great DIY advice!

Food Swaps: Counting calories is confusing

What can you do if you don’t want to be bothered with MyFitnessPal or a calculator every time you eat a meal?

Simple enough, it’s time to incorporate a few food swaps which will save you hundreds of calories and help you get one step closer to your fitness goals. You may have already heard of a few of these but some swaps will come in handy when you’re looking to cut a few calories but not sacrifice taste.

1. Cook Your Rice in Coconut Oil (Calories saved: 100-150)

Rice Food Swaps

Researchers from Sri Lanka have recently discovered that the way you cook your rice drastically affects the caloric content. They found that adding coconut to boiling water, cooking rice for 20 to 25 minutes, and then refrigerating for 12 hours reduced the caloric content by almost 50%.

Essentially, this cooking method increases the resistant starch and amylose content within the rice and thus, reducing the amount that’s actually digested within your GI tract.

2. Use Whey Protein as Peanut Butter (Calories saved: 80)

I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out…The texture is slightly different, but if you purchase a peanut butter flavored protein, this is an extremely close replica with much better macros.

Add water very slowly to whey powder and stir thoroughly. Be careful not to add too much water as it can become too runny and you will lose the peanut butter consistency. Add a few tablespoons of water, mix, and then repeat until you reach the desired consistency.

Find some bread or a wrap and make yourself a sandwich or simply eat it plain for a tasty, satiating snack.

3. Cauliflower Pizza Crust (Calories saved: 790)

Who doesn’t love pizza? Well everyone except your waist line. If you want to save some serious calories, make your own pizza but sub normal dough for a cauliflower crust.

  • Mince 1 large head of cauliflower in a food processor
  • Microwave for roughly 5 minutes (or until tender)
  • Place in a towel
  • Squeeze out all excess water
  • Combine with 2 eggs
  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes
  • Top with your favorite pizza toppings
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes

4. Butternut Squash for Sweet Potatoes (Calories saved: 40 per 4 ounces)

If you’ve never tried butternut squash, it is quite similar in texture and taste to sweet potatoes. Dice one, coat in a little olive oil, toss on a few spices, and you’re good to go. Bake at 425 until crispy and then serve with your choice of protein and vegetable.

If you’re comparing the calorie counts of both items, you could hypothetically eat double as much butternut squash for the same amount of calories in sweet potatoes.

5. Use Whey as “Syrup” for Pancakes and Waffles (Calories saved: 70 per 4 tbsp)

Waffles Food Swaps

Real maple syrup is rather devoid of any nutrients other than sugar. However, I’ve found that you can add just enough water to whey protein to closely resemble the consistency of syrup. Not only that, given the vast number of whey flavors, it’s easy to find a version that will suit your taste buds.

6. Utilize Real Fruit Instead of Jelly (Calories saved: 25 per ounce)

If you substituted every tablespoon of jelly for an ounce of the real fruit, you would not only save yourself 25 calories; but you would also boost your fiber and antioxidant intake. Not to mention, who actually uses just one tablespoon of jelly? That’s lame.

7. Double Your Veggies and Half Your Carbs (Calories saved: 150 per cup)

If you’re looking for an easy way to cut calories without even having to think about recipes, macros, or satiety then just substitute more vegetables for less carbohydrates.

If you’re having mashed potatoes, then simply halve the portion and go for an extra spoonful of leafy green goodness.

Your blood sugar and body composition will thank you in the long run.

8. Omelet for Cereal and Milk (Calories: None likely, but it’s more about body composition from the subsequent nutrients ingested)

Cereal and milk is what you ate as a child, it’s time to step up and start eating like an adult. Put down the Kellogg’s and General Mills, get up 15 minutes earlier, and actually fix yourself a decent breakfast that will get you started on the right foot.

Whip up an omelet with some veggies, a dash of cheese, and perhaps a bowl of berries on the side. Research has shown that eggs promote greater levels of satiety and help to reduce subsequent energy intake throughout the rest of the day.

Not only that, they’re rich in a host of vitamins and minerals and contain all 9 essential amino acids.

9. Use Whey Protein and Greek Yogurt as “Icing” (Calories: None likely, but it’s more about body composition from the subsequent nutrients ingested)

Yogurt Food Swaps

Whey protein is incredibly versatile; I’ve already discussed its potential use as peanut butter or syrup, but you can also bake and cook with it. Throw together some protein pancakes or a microwave cake and then combine Greek yogurt with whey protein as an “icing”.

You’ll not only save yourself a truck load of sugar, but you’ll also bump up the total protein content in your diet and help enhance your body composition in the long run.
(Calories: 140 per 12 ounces)

Club soda is generally fairly mild in taste but this can easily be enhanced with the addition of some crystal light. Add crystal light to the bottom of the glass, then add club soda while stirring slowly – don’t shake or mix too aggressive as you’ll remove the carbonation.

Some might scoff and think this is a rather boring alternative but Crystal light actually offers 38 flavors in total (6 containing caffeine) and they even have a pure line with “no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives.”

Wrap-Up

Remember, the name of the game here is calories.

The food industry has done an excellent job of supplementing popular foods with hyperpalatable ingredients (texture, sugar, salt, fat, etc.) which help to enhance customer appeal, mouth feel, and neural response upon tasting.

These food swaps aren’t magical replacements with half the calories; they are just better choices which will still allow you to eat close replicas of your favorite foods.

Not only that, many provide a number of nutritional benefits which aren’t found in their calories dense counterparts – so enjoy!

Demmy James
10 Easy Food Swaps for Cutting 500 Calories a Day