Weight Loss & Diet

Invisible Food Swaps for Visible Weight Loss

Invisible Food Swaps for Visible Weight Loss
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Easy food swaps to help you lose weight!

Somehow, you have to build a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight. One strategy is to slash portions of high-calorie foods and fill up on lower-calorie foods instead. That is a great start, since it helps you cut calories without being too hungry.

The Lark check-in introduced another good approach. You can make little swaps in your everyday recipes and food choices. This lets you enjoy your favorite foods without overdoing it on calories. Following are three menus for three sample days and some ideas for how you can make little swaps to reduce calories and lose more weight without sacrificing taste or satisfaction.

Sample Menu Day 1

Here’s what happened… Swap the croissant for an English muffin to save about 100 calories, and know that breakfast meat is almost never a good choice. The egg whites and cheese have plenty of protein. You can find a lower-calorie breakfast sandwich at most fast food places, or make your own.

A huge green salad with vegetables, lean protein, and fresh fruit is a calorie bargain compared to a salad with starchy croutons, fatty bacon, and handfuls of cheese. A pasta dinner can have a shocking number of calories, but you can cut back by sticking to a small amount of pasta mixed with cooked spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini noodles (“zoodles”).

Instead of calorie-laden trail mix, make your own snack mix with popcorn, cereal, peanuts, and (if you have somewhere to store it) grapes. Chocolate candies and dried fruit add extra sugars and calories.

Sample Menu Day 2

Here’s what happened…Granola is high in calories and often sugar and added fats, while unsweetened shredded wheat is also a whole grain but is sugar-free. The fruit and nuts add protein and fiber, and skim milk is lower-calorie than 2%.

If you are ordering a burger and cannot find a turkey burger alternative, choose the smallest size burger and get mustard instead of mayo, butter, or special sauce. Save calories and carbs by swapping out the fries for vegetables. Graham crackers are a not-so-guilty pleasure: sweet and with only 60 calories per big rectangle.

For the mac and cheese, sub cooked cauliflower for half the pasta and use fat-free cheddar, skim milk, and cottage cheese instead of full-fat and creamy versions. Frozen bananas are amazingly creamy subs for ice cream.

Just like protein bars, soy nuts (roasted soybeans) are ready to eat, portable, stable at room temperature, and high in protein with 17 grams. Unlike protein bars, soy nuts are not processed and are naturally high in fiber, potassium, and other nutrients.

Sample Menu Day 3

Here’s what happened…egg whites are lower-calorie than whole eggs, and mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes add flavor and chewiness without saturated fat. Slash carbs with browned cauliflower instead of hash browns.

For lunch, try an open-faced sandwich and munch on kale chips instead of fatty starchy potato chips, and enjoy a pear instead of downing juice. A Chinese meal with a fried egg roll, breaded and sugary chicken, and starchy fried rice goes overboard, while you can enjoy lower calorie hot and sour soup, vegetable dishes such as Buddha’s feast and lean protein with vegetables, and a small amount of heart-healthy brown rice.

Crackers are starchy and can have hydrogenated oils, while dips add calories. Try crunching on popcorn and get your protein from a hard-boiled egg or some low-fat cottage cheese.

Sample Menu Day 4

Here’s what happened…Flavored oatmeal and yogurt both have a ton of added sugar, while plain oatmeal and yogurt have none. Cocoa nibs are sugar-free, too, and ½ an orange is more satisfying and lower-calorie than juice.

Tacos are smaller than but just as tasty as burritos, and often have ⅓ as many calories. Chicken and steak are leaner than beef, and you can save calories by using lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa instead of sour cream. Beans add protein and fiber. For dinner, use soy protein or lean turkey and add eggplant to make the meatloaf moister.

Smoothies can pack in the sugar and calories, and whole fruit is far more filling than blended fruit in a smoothie. Cottage cheese is a low-carb source of filling protein.

You can see that these swaps are not difficult, and you can still enjoy the same types of meals you love. Little changes can turn into big results! Lark can remind you to make those changes and keep you aware of what you are eating, as well as support your other efforts to live healthy and prevent diabetes.