food swaps to lose weight

Invisible Food Swaps for Visible Weight Loss

Easy food swaps to help you lose weight!

Food swaps to lose wight

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

Meal Original Menu Lower-Calorie Menu
Breakfast
Breakfast sandwich with egg, sausage, and cheese on a croissant, Large coffee latte
Breakfast sandwich with egg white, mushrooms, and cheese on a whole-grain English muffin, Large coffee with almond milk
Lunch
Salad with greens, bacon, cheese, crispy (breaded) chicken, croutons or chow mein noodles, raisins, and dressing
Salad with greens, grilled chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh berries or mandarin oranges, and low-fat dressing
Dinner
1 plateful (1 entree-sized portion) of spaghetti and meatballs with a breadstick.
1 cup cooked whole-grain pasta with 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash, ½ cup marinara sauce with cooked vegetables, such as spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and/or broccoli, and ground turkey meatballs. Side salad
Snack
½ cup trail mix with nuts, chocolate candies, and dried fruit
Mixture of 1 cup of air-popped popcorn, ½ cup of unsweetened bran flakes, ½ oz. peanuts, and ¼ cup grapes
Calorie savings (approximate)
1,000

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

Meal Original Menu Lower-Calorie Menu
Breakfast
1 cup of granola and ¾ cup 2% low-fat milk
1 cup shredded wheat with ¾ cup skim milk, ½ oz. almonds, 1 cup strawberries
Lunch
Cheeseburger with special sauce and fries, Chocolate chip cookie
Turkey burger with mustard on a whole-grain bun, and carrot sticks or baked zucchini sticks, 2 graham crackers
Dinner
Macaroni and cheese, Ice cream
Pureed frozen banana chunks
Snack
Protein bar
¼ cup roasted soybeans (soy nuts)
Calorie savings (approximate)
900

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

Meal Original Menu Lower-Calorie Menu
Breakfast
2 scrambled eggs with bacon, hash browns
Egg whites scrambled with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, cauliflower hash browns
Lunch
Tuna salad sandwich with chips, apple juice
Tuna salad made with avocado or fat-free yogurt instead of mayo, on 1 slice of whole-grain bread, kale chips baked with parmesan cheese, 1 pear
Dinner
Egg roll, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice
Hot and sour soup, Buddha’s feast (or other vegetables), shrimp with vegetables, ½ cup brown rice
Snack
Crackers and dip
3 cups air-popped popcorn or 1 100-calorie package of natural microwave popcorn and 1 hard-boiled egg
Calorie savings (approximate)
900

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

Meal Original Menu Lower-Calorie Menu
Breakfast
1 packet apple cinnamon oatmeal made with milk, fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt, orange juice
1 packet regular oatmeal made with skim milk and mixed with ½ diced apple and cinnamon, plain non-fat yogurt with 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs, ½ orange
Lunch
Beef burrito with a side of rice
Chicken taco with a side of black beans
Dinner
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy, brownie
Vegetarian meatloaf made with eggplant, mashed potatoes with cauliflower for half the potatoes and broth (not cream)-based gravy, 1 ounce dark chocolate
Snack
Fruit smoothie
1 cup fruit and ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese
Calorie savings (approximate)
900

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.

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health