If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you know it’s not easy. You can feel like you’re left without some of your favorite comfort foods. As you may know by now, losing weight is all about calories in versus calories out. To put it simply, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn. We’ve done extensive research and have figured out 4 simple food swaps you can use right now to lose weight easily. These simple food swaps can save you 1,600 calories a day or more!
Why Swapping Food Helps You Lose Weight Easily
Before we jump into the list, it’s important to know why swapping your food out works. If you’re not on any specific diet currently, these food swaps can have a substantial effect. You will essentially be eating the same amount of food but will be taking in considerably fewer calories.
If you’re already restricting your food intake on a diet, eating more can actually help. I know this seems counterintuitive but sometimes your body can go into what is called starvation mode and hold on to excess fat.
So, whether you’re currently on a diet or not at all, these 4 food swaps can help you lose weight and keep it off. Plus, you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself since you won’t have to restrict your intake.
1. Swap Sugary Drinks for Water
This may seem like an obvious food swap but it shouldn’t go without being mentioned. Many people drink far more calories than they realize. It’s not until they start tracking their calories that the excess sugar and calories become apparent.
We’re not talking about just soda here either. Fruit juices, sports drinks, and milk all have calories and sugar. While it’s completely fine to have a glass of milk or orange juice from time to time, the majority of your hydration should come from water.
Not a fan of the bland taste? No worries! There are now a plethora of water mix-ins you use to make your water taste great. Best of all, most of them are sugar-free and have zero calories!
Amount swapped: 3 cans of soda (465 calories, 120g sugar)
Swapped for: 3 cups of water (0 calories, 0g sugar)
Calories saved for three servings: 465 calories
2. Swap Potatoes for Squash or Cauliflower
Almost everyone loves potatoes. Whether it’s mashed potatoes or french fries, potatoes are undeniably delicious. However, they are also packed with calories and carbohydrates. Even if we ignore the calories, your body processes the carbohydrates and turns them into blood sugar. This is why certain foods high in carbohydrates such as white bread and white potatoes can spike your blood sugar.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up the warm fluffy goodness of mashed potatoes. There are plenty of replacements out there that are just as good, sometimes even better! Definitely experiment to see what you like best but we’ll offer you two of our favorite replacements below.
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
This simple recipe will blow your mind! Not only does it taste very similar to mashed potatoes, but it also looks like them, too! It’s also a great recipe to sneak vegetables into kid’s dinners. They won’t even notice they’re eating something healthy.
What you need to make it:
- One head of cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ½ teaspoon of minced garlic (or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (optional)
- Set a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil.
- Cut up the cauliflower into small pieces and add them to the boiling water. Boil for 6 minutes or until tender.
- Drain the cauliflower and then pour the hot cauliflower onto a clean dishtowel or paper towels. Pat dry.
- Put the cauliflower into a food processor (or a bowl with an immersion blender). Puree the cauliflower with cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper until it’s just about smooth.
Amount swapped: 1 cup of mashed potatoes (237 calories, 35g carbs)
Swapped for: 1 cup of mashed cauliflower (70 calories, 9g carbs)
Calories saved for one serving: 167 calories
Butternut Squash Fries
Are you more of a fry person than a mashed potato person? Don’t fret! We have just the recipe for you. These nutty butternut squash fries are similar to sweet potato fries but even better and better for you!
What you need to make it:
- One butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon of oil (preferably olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
- Cut the squash in half vertically (from top to bottom) and scoop the seeds out of the center. Then, peel the squash.
- Dice each side into roughly ½ inch strips. Then cut those strips down into fries or wedges.
- Put the fries in a bowl and pour the olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper over top. Toss the fries with your hands or salad tongs.
- Pour the contents of the bowl onto a baking tray and place into the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and tender. Flip them halfway through for more even cooking.
Amount swapped: 1 serving of potato wedges, roughly 102 grams (260 calories, 33g carbs)
Swapped for: 1 serving of butternut squash fries, roughly 100 grams (40 calories, 10g carbs)
Calories saved for one serving: 220 calories
3. Swap Spaghetti for Zucchini or Squash
As we’ve learned, there are a lot of calories and carbs in white bread and white potatoes. Unfortunately, that holds true for white pasta as well. Have no fear, though! We have found the most delicious swaps that will save you tons of calories.
To use zucchini, all you need to do is cut it into thin strips. This can be done either with a knife by hand, a peeler, or a spiralizer. No need to peel! Sauté the zucchini noodles in a pan with olive oil and minced garlic over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, about one minute. Then toss with your favorite sauce! Pesto makes a tasty sauce for this food swap.
If you’re in the mood for a more traditional marinara sauce, try spaghetti squash! This magical vegetable only needs to be cut in half and roasted in an oven. When done, use a fork to pull at the flesh along the inside. You’ll notice it springs apart into perfect little noodles. They look almost exactly like spaghetti noodles! You can serve it with whatever sauce you would like but it pairs well with any marinara.
Amount swapped: 1 cup of cooked spaghetti (220 calories, 43g carbs)
Swapped for: 1 cup of zucchini noodles (20 calories, 4g carbs) OR 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash, roughly 100 grams (42 calories, 10g carbs)
Calories saved for one serving: 178-200 calories
4. Swap Mayonnaise for Avocado
Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip is a favorite additive to many sandwiches. While the taste is okay, you usually won’t see people eating a spoonful of it. This is because mayonnaise mostly acts as a moisturizer for a sandwich, for lack of a better term. However, mayonnaise is full of fat and high in calories. You can save a lot of calories by using mashed avocado instead!
Not only is avocado low in calories, but it’s also very good for you! It’s packed with monounsaturated fat, which helps lower dangerous cholesterol. It also has a lot of vitamin E, which acts as a great antioxidant. Whenever you go to make a sandwich, reach for avocado instead of mayonnaise or other fattening spreads. Your heart will thank you!
Amount swapped: 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (180 calories, 20g fat)
Swapped for: 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado (50 calories, 5g fat)
Calories saved for one serving: 130 calories
Swapping Food to Lose Weight Easily
Just in these four food swaps, we’ve saved over 1,000 calories! The servings counted were considerably less than what most people eat, so the savings are likely even more.
Little steps like these can lead to not only weight loss but an overall healthier body and attitude with food. Give it a try the next time you go to make lunch or dinner!