Cut 100 Calories a Day — Lose 10 Pounds a Year
The last thing you want to do right about now is go on a diet. (Okay, it's pretty much the last thing you want to do ever.) Luckily you can zap the bulge without resorting to rabbit food. The trick: Eat just a little less. Scientists at Harvard and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge found that people who lowered their calorie intake lost an average of 13 pounds in six months no matter what kind of diet they were on. "This is the best weight-loss news in a long time," says Frank Sacks, MD, nutrition professor at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study. "If you don't like what you're eating, you're not going to stick with it. These findings give you flexibility to trim a bit here and there and still enjoy your favorites."
In fact, by nixing just 100 calories a day, you'll lose more than 10 pounds a year. Up your cuts to 250 and you're down 26 pounds. Want to lose faster? Ditch 500 calories daily and you'll drop those pounds in half the time. We found 50 so-easy ways for you to trim a little but save a lot.
Cut 100 Calories at Breakfast
- Use skim milk in place of flavored Coffee-mate in your two morning mugs.
- Eat a bowl of high-fiber cereal and you'll consume fewer calories all day.
- Order bacon, not sausage, with your eggs.
- Choose a yeast doughnut instead of a denser cake one.
Cut 100 Calories at Lunch
- Use 1 tablespoon of mayo and 1 tablespoon of low-fat cottage cheese to make tuna salad.
- Put barbecue sauce, not honey mustard, on your chicken sandwich at Wendy's.
- Top your burger with onions, lettuce, and tomato and skip the cheese.
- Ask for the 12-ounce child-size soda instead of the 21-ounce medium at the drive-through.
- Slim down your sandwich by using Arnold Select 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins instead of whole wheat bread.
- Toss your salad with 1 tablespoon of dressing until every lettuce leaf is coated. You'll get away with using half the usual serving size. Try this trick at dinner too.
- Skip the crackers and shredded cheese on your chili.
Cut 100 Calories at Dinner
- Trade butter for a flavorful spread made with garlic, fresh rosemary, and light, trans fat-free margarine.
- Making meatballs? Mix half the amount of ground beef the recipe calls for with half as much cooked brown rice.
- Instead of two slices of medium pepperoni pan pizza, choose thin-crust.
- When munching on chicken wings, don't toss the bones midway through. Seeing the evidence of your feast may help you eat less, studies show.
Cut 100 Calories from a Snack
- Trade 1/2 cup of premium vanilla ice cream for 1/2 cup of Breyers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.
- Ordering a cone? Make it the sugar, not the waffle, kind.
- Munch on Pirate's Booty. In a study, switching to an air-puffed cheesy snack twice a day saved about 70 calories a pop.
- Grab a Dannon Light & Fit yogurt, not a low-fat fruit blend.
- Replace half the butter in cake, muffin, and brownie recipes with an equal amount of applesauce or mashed bananas. You'll save about 100 calories for every tablespoon you swap.
- Indulge in a slice of angel food cake drizzled with chocolate syrup rather than three cookies.
Cut 250 Calories
Cut 250 Calories at Breakfast
- Trade a reduced-fat blueberry muffin for instant oatmeal topped with 1/4 cup of fresh blueberries. Bonus: You'll stay satisfied all morning.
- Measure out your breakfast cereal; overestimating by just 1/3 cup can add 100 calories.
- Enjoy it with a 16-ounce chai latte with skim milk rather than a green tea latte with 2 percent.
Cut 250 Calories at Lunch
- Pick turkey over tuna in your 6-inch sub.
- At the salad bar, reach for shredded Parmesan instead of cheddar and skip the bread.
- Nuke a Lean Cuisine chicken parm instead of having one delivered.
Cut 250 Calories at Dinner
- Make your own salad dressing using low-sodium, fat-free broth in place of 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Having fajitas? Fill up one tortilla rather than three, then eat the rest of your fixings with a fork.
- Sub black beans for refried and hold the side of Mexican rice.
- Order filet mignon instead of a New York strip steak.
- Opt for broccoli chicken over sweet-and-sour, and for steamed brown rice, not fried.
Cut 250 Calories from a Snack
- Bite into a chocolate-covered strawberry rather than a chocolate chip cookie.
- Skip the small movie-theater popcorn and bring your own 1-ounce bag of Lay's.
- Switch from juice to Crystal Light twice a day.
- At the mall, curb a craving for a soft pretzel with a 100-calorie pretzel pack.
Cut 500 Calories
- Eat fruit before every meal. In a Pennsylvania State University study, people who munched apples 15 minutes before lunch ate about 187 fewer calories.
- Order one brunch entree to share. Who can finish that giant omelet, anyway?
- When making mac and cheese, resist temptation and prep just half the box. Save the rest in a zip-top bag for next time.
- Use your grandmother's Joy of Cooking and you'll save an average of 506 calories over three meals, according to a recent Cornell University study. The secret: Smaller portion sizes and lower-calorie ingredients were called for back then.
- Instead of a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha for your afternoon pick-me-up, order coffee with a little milk and a dusting of chocolate.
- At happy hour, drink two rum and diet colas and back away from the bowl of stale snack mix.
Turn Up the Burn
The more active you are, the fewer calories you'll need to cut. Try these food-fitness combos to reach your target number.
Goal: 100 calories
Burn 50: Get up from your desk and take a 20-minute walk at lunch.
Cut 50: Skip the oyster crackers in your soup.
Goal: 250 calories
Burn 125: Shovel the driveway for 20 minutes.
Cut 125: Hold the cinnamon bun. Eat two slices of cinnamon toast.
Goal: 500 calories
Burn 250: Spend two hours making dinner for the entire week.
Cut 250: Mist a pan with cooking spray instead of pouring in oil.
More Calorie-Counting Guides
Sources: Sari Greaves, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association; Jayne Hurley, RD, senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan; Brian Wansink, PhD, FITNESS advisory board member and author of Mindless Eating; and Hope Warshaw, RD, author of Eat Out, Eat Right, third edition, and What to Eat When You're Eating Out