Fit Friday – Low Calorie Substitutions
When you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, any way you can cut corners is helpful. Over the years, I’ve kind of made it a challenge for myself to figure out the most I can eat for the fewest calories. It’s kind of bargain shopping except with food. I know, I’m weird. But, guess what…you get to benefit from that weirdness today!
One of the ways I’m able to eat a lot but with fewer calories is by using lower calorie substitutions for higher calorie food and drink items. So, if you’re wanting to watch your calorie intake, here’s a list of a few things you should just have on hand.
(Disclaimer: For those health-nuts out there, I understand that some of the items listed below may not be “healthy,” so to speak, and probably cause cancer or something… I’m not trying to claim that all of it is “healthy,” just lower in calories.)
- SPLENDA: I use this in my coffee, unsweetened tea, oatmeal, sometimes on low-sugar cereal, even on fruit with cinnamon warmed up with crunchy cereal on top to make a mini fruit crisp!
- Sugar-free flavored SYRUPS or EXTRACTS (vanilla, caramel, raspberry, almond, etc.): I use these in coffee – esp. iced coffee, my Herbalife shakes, unsweetened tea, oatmeal
- UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK (I use the vanilla kind – so yummy!): This is half the calories of skim milk (40 instead of 80)! It has more calcium than skim milk too. The only downfall is that it doesn’t have much protein like normal milk does. But if you get enough protein elsewhere in your diet, that doesn’t really matter. I actually prefer the taste of this in my cereal, and any recipe that calls for milk you can substitute this for less calories – except pudding – you can’t use almond milk to make pudding…I’ve tried…it turns out runny. 😦
- COOL WHIP (preferably lite): So good for soooo many substitutions! Use it instead of frosting on cakes (see cake in a mug post here) or other desserts, with fruit (I like to mix it with plain greek yogurt, splenda, and sugar-free pudding mix for a delicious fruit dip!), and with sugar-free preserves on pancakes (1 Tbsp of the preserves with 2 Tbsp of light cool whip is 30 calories and 1 gram of sugar, as opposed to 2 Tbsp maple syrup with 105 calories and 16 grams of sugar!)
- Sugar-free or light Hershey’s CHOCOLATE SYRUP: Good on ice cream (with cool whip of course), on strawberries or other fruit, and drizzled on cakes.
- EGG whites: Use in place of whole eggs when you can.
- BUTTER: Light butter or margarine in place of butter; Pam spray works well for many things in non-stick skillets and you don’t even need butter; Butter spray is great on many things too like potatoes, corn, bread in the oven with garlic salt, etc.
- PLAIN GREEK YOGURT: use to coat chicken before breading for moist chicken, use in dips (mix with seasoning packets or with sugar-free pudding mix), use in place of cream cheese (I’ve also found a Greek yogurt/cream cheese mix that’s only 60 calories per 2 Tbsp), etc.
- SNACKS: Nuts are great just high in calories, so don’t eat a lot (cocoa-roasted almonds are great for that chocolate fix but almost no sugar), soy nuts are good too for protein, veggies and fruit (if you have them prepared and ready to go, you’re more likely to eat them), popcorn chips (just discovered these and LOVE them!), 100 cal mini popcorn bag, piece of toast with sugar-free preserves, handful of your favorite cereal, string cheese stick, crackers or cracker chips, celery with a little peanut butter
- DIPS for chips and veggies: I like to mix Ranch dip powder with light sour cream for 40 calories/2 Tbsp instead of 60 for french onion dip, which is still better than 80 for light Ranch dressing. Also, salsa is only around 10 calories!
- SAUCES/CONDIMENTS: If you need a sauce or condiment for chicken, steak, hamburgers, sandwiches, etc., A1 is 15 calories/1 Tbsp, with half the sugar of ketchup and way less calories and sugar than the average BBQ sauce. Soy sauce and worcestershire sauce are also very low in calories (although high in sodium). Mustard hardly has any calories too and no sugar, and, therefore, is way better than ketchup and mayonnaise (although light mayo isn’t too bad – 40 calories for 1 Tbsp). Lastly, hot sauces like buffalo sauce are generally low in calories too. You can also top chicken with salsa, after or before cooking.
- OTHER items you should look at the nutrition label and consider your options: all restaurant menu items (most have healthy alternatives, but often things seem healthy but aren’t), cereal, bread, cheese (get the 2% kind), yogurt, baked beans (some have way more sugar), juice (some brands offer light and diet), coffee creamer (they have sugar-free pumpkin spice now!), ice cream (the no sugar added tastes great too), veggies and fruit (fresh or not – some are way more calories and sugar than others).
- Also, see my post about low-calorie/sugar add-ins and toppings for oatmeal and cereal here.
- Lastly, MY FITNESS PAL or another site like it to help you pay attention to how many calories/fat/sugar is in everything you eat. If you’ve never paid attention before, you’ll be super surprised! It can also help you keep track of daily calories as well as let you enter recipes you can save to see how many calories are in servings. Super helpful! Warning, though…it’s addicting! Click the image below to take you to their site. 🙂