Reaching your fat loss goals may be easier than you think. To lose a pound of fat a month, all you need to do is cut 100 calories a day from your diet, assuming the intake and expenditure of all other calories remains the same. That’s because a pound of body fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories. So if you cut 100 calories a day for 31 days, you’re cutting 3,100 calories-or about a pound.
Wait…a pound a month? Isn’t that a little slow? Well, mounds of research indicate that you’re more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slowly. Besides, losing a pound a month doesn’t require drastic changes in your eating habits. It can be as simple as eating two egg rolls with your Chinese stir-fry instead of three. Here are 100 painless ways to cut 100 or more calories a day. As a bonus, they all reduce fat or sugar, which means, calorie for calorie, you’re getting more vitamins and minerals.
1. Spread 1 tablespoon of all-fruit jam on your toast rather than 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter.
2. Replace 1 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup of nonfat milk.
3. Eat 2 poached eggs instead of 2 fried eggs.
4. Replace 1/2 cup of granola with 2 cups of Cheerios.
5. Instead of using whole milk and eggs to prepare 2 slices of French toast, use nonfat milk and egg whites.
6. Snack on an orange and a banana instead of a Snickers candy bar.
7. Munch on 35 pretzel sticks instead of 1 ounce of dry-roasted peanuts.
8. Replace 1 cup of sweetened applesauce with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce.
9. On your lamb-and-vegetable kabob, replace 2 of the 4 chunks of meat with fresh whole mushrooms.
10. Dip an artichoke in 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise instead of 1 1/2 tablespoons of regular mayonnaise.
11. Steam your asparagus rather than sauté it in 1 tablespoon of butter or oil.
12. Instead of a 5-ounce glass of wine, opt for cherry-flavored sparkling water.
13. For a chewy snack, have 1/2 cup of dried fruit rather than 9 caramels.
14. Replace 3 slices of bacon with 3 slices of Light & Lean Canadian bacon.
15. Eat a Lender’s egg bagel instead of a Sara Lee egg bagel.
16. Select 1 cup of home-style baked beans instead of an equal serving of baked beans with franks.
17. Replace 2 biscuits with 2 dinner rolls.
18. When making a sandwich, use 2 slices of Roman Light 7-grain bread instead of Pepperidge Farm wheat bread.
19. Eat 1/2 cup of steamed fresh broccoli instead of 1/2 cup of frozen broccoli in cheese sauce.
20. Make a burrito with 1/2 cup of fat-free refried beans and 1 ounce of nonfat cheese instead of the same amount of traditional refried beans and cheese.
21. Replace an apple muffin with a high-fiber English muffin.
22. Reduce a typical serving of chocolate cake (1/8 of a two-layer cake) by one-third.
23. Switch from 1 cup of whole-milk hot chocolate to 1 cup of steamed 1% milk flavored with a dash of almond extract.
24. Replace 1 cup of caramel-coated popcorn with 2 1/2 cups of air-popped popcorn.
25. Switch from 1/2 cup of yogurt-covered raisins to 1/2 cup of plain raisins.
26. Snack on 1 cup of nonfat plain yogurt instead of 1 cup of custard-style yogurt.
27. Top your celery sticks with 2 tablespoons of fat-free cream cheese instead of 3 tablespoons of regular cream cheese.
28. Replace 2 fried-chicken drumsticks with 2 roasted drumsticks and a cup of peas and carrots.
29. Instead of eating 5 chocolate-chip cookies, savor the taste of 2.
30. Lighten your 2 cups of coffee with 2 tablespoons of evaporated nonfat milk instead of 2 tablespoons of half-and-half.
31. Replace a 12-ounce can of cola with a 12-ounce can of diet cola.
32. Thicken your cream sauce with 1 percent milk and corn starch instead of a roux of butter and flour.
33. At the appetizer tray, choose 4 fresh raw mushrooms instead of 4 batter-fried mushrooms.
34. Use 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream instead of regular sour cream (on baked potatoes or in stroganoff). If done twice in the day, 100 calories will be cut.
35. Reduce the size of your steak from 4 1/2 ounces to 3 ounces.
36. Grill a cheese sandwich with nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine.
37. Replace 1 cup of chocolate ice cream with 2/3 cup of nonfat chocolate frozen yogurt.
38. Snack on 2 ounces of oven-baked potato chips instead of regular potato chips.
39. Instead of topping your salad with an ounce of croutons, get your crunch from 1/4 cup of chopped celery.
40. Instead of 1 cup of macaroni salad, eat 3 1/2 cups of spinach salad with 2 tablespoons of low-calorie dressing.
41. Cut the peanut butter on your sandwich from 2 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon.
42. Serve your turkey with 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce instead of 1/2 cup.
43. Order a sandwich on cracked wheat bread instead of a croissant.
44. Complement your hamburger with 1 1/4 ounces of oven-baked tortilla chips instead of a side of fries.
45. Split an apple Danish with a friend rather than eat the entire thing.
46. Order 2 slices of cheese pizza instead of 2 slices of pepperoni pizza.
47. Grab a Dole Fresh Lites Cherry frozen fruit bar instead of a Sunkist Coconut frozen fruit bar.
48. Snack on 1/2 cup of fruit cocktail canned in water instead of 1 cup of fruit cocktail canned in heavy syrup.
49. Switch from 1 cup of fruit punch to 1 cup of sparkling water flavored with 2 teaspoons of concentrated orange juice.
50. Instead of eating garlic bread made with butter, spread baked garlic cloves on French bread.
51. Rather than snack on 1 cup of grapefruit canned in syrup, peel and section 1 small grapefruit.
52. Dip your chips in 1/2 cup of salsa instead of 1/2 cup of guacamole.
53. Switch from 1/2 cup of Frusen Gladje butter pecan ice cream to Breyers butter pecan ice cream.
54. Use 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise in your tuna salad instead of 2 tablespoons.
55. Hold the tartar sauce on your fish sandwich, and squeeze lemon on it instead.
56. Replace 3 fish sticks with 3 ounces of grilled halibut.
57. In sandwich spreads or salads, use 3 teaspoons of dijonnaise instead of 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise.
58. Use 2 tablespoons of light pancake syrup instead of 2 tablespoons of regular syrup.
59. Top your pasta with 1 cup of marinara sauce instead of 1/2 cup of alfredo sauce.
60. For each serving of pasta salad you make, reduce the oil or mayonnaise by 1 tablespoon.
61. Replace 1/2 cup of peaches canned in extra-heavy syrup with 1/2 cup of peaches canned in water.
62. Prepare 1/2 cup of steamed peas and cauliflower instead of frozen peas and cauliflower in cream sauce.
63. Cut back on sampling during cooking. The following “tastes” have 100 calories: 4 tablespoons of beef stroganoff, 3 tablespoons of homemade chocolate pudding, 2 tablespoons of chocolate-chip cookie dough.
64. At an Italian restaurant, snack on a large breadstick instead of a slice of garlic bread.
65. Eat a 3/4-cup serving of pudding made with skim milk rather than a 1-cup serving of pudding made with whole milk.
66. Choose 1/2 cup of brown rice instead of 1 serving of frozen rice pilaf with green beans or 1 serving of frozen Oriental rice and vegetables.
67. Compliment your sandwich with 3/4 cup of split-pea soup instead of 1 cup of chunky bean and ham soup.
68. Replace 3 tablespoons of strawberry topping on your ice cream with 3/4 pint of fresh strawberries.
69. Pass on the second helping of mashed potatoes.
70. Eat 3 grilled prawns with cocktail sauce instead of 3 breaded and fried prawns.
71. Make a pie crust with 1 cup of Grape-Nuts cereal, 1/4 cup of concentrated apple juice and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, instead of using a traditional graham-cracker crust. You’ll save 100 calories per slice.
72. Replace 8 sticks of regular chewing gum with sugar-free chewing gum.
73. Snack on a papaya instead of a bag of M&Ms.
74. Substitute 3 ounces of scallops for 3 ounce of lean beef in your stir-fry.
75. Rather than spread 4 tablespoons of cream cheese on two slices of raisin bread, dip the bread in 1/2 cup nonfat apple-cinnamon yogurt.
76. Munch on 1 cup of frozen grapes instead of an ice cream sandwich.
77. Rather than drink a strawberry milkshake, make a smoothie of 2/3 cup of low-fat milk, 1/2 cup of strawberries and 1/2 a banana.
78. Replace 2 brownies with 2 fig bars.
79. Eat 2 meatballs instead of 4 with your spaghetti.
80. On a hot day, quench your thirst with a glass of ice water with lemon or mint instead of a can of light beer.
81. Eat 1/2 cup of black beans instead of 3 ounces of roast beef.
82. Replace 1 1/2 tablespoons of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Nucoa Smart Beat margarine.
83. Choose 1 serving of vegetarian lasagna instead of lasagna with meat.
84. Eat 2 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars instead of 2 Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts.
85. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of low-calorie French dressing on your salad instead of 2 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing.
86. Replace 1 large flour tortilla with 1 six-inch corn tortilla.
87. Eat a turkey sandwich instead of a chicken salad sandwich.
88. Choose 4 1/2 ounces of tuna packed in water instead of 4 1/2 ounces of tuna packed in oil.
89. At Burger King, have a Whopper Jr. Sandwich with regular fries instead of a Whopper With Cheese Sandwich.
90. Order your Quarter Pounder without cheese.
91. At Jack in the Box, eat a regular taco instead of a super taco.
92. Fix 1 cup of turkey chili with beans rather than regular chili with no beans.
93. Use 1 cup of fat-free cottage cheese instead of regular cottage cheese.
94. Order a sandwich with barbecued chicken instead of barbecued pork.
95. Replace 1 cup of corn with 1 cup of carrots.
96. Reduce your helping of turkey stuffing from 1 cup to 2/3 cup.
97. Have a single scoop of ice cream instead of a double scoop.
98. Replace 2 ounces of corn chips with 2 ounces of SnackWell’s wheat crackers.
99. Eat 1 hot dog at the baseball game instead of 2.
100. Shred 2 ounces of fat-free cheddar cheese on nachos instead of regular cheddar.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., is a nutritionist in private practice and editor of the Nutrition Report. Her latest book is Nutrition for Women: The Complete Guide (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1993).
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD