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How To Cut Calories - Five Easy Ways

Updated on November 18, 2015

There are many ways to cut calories, some easier than others. Whether for health, vanity, or both reasons, it can be easy to find ways to cut calories on a daily basis without sacrificing your favorite foods. Cutting just one or two hundred calories a day can add up to almost one or two pounds of weight loss at the end of 30 days even when no other weight loss efforts have been made. Over the course of a year, you'll see at least a ten pound weight loss just by cutting 100 calories everyday while those who cut at least 500 calories a day can lose a pound a week! Many Americans can cut 500 calories out of their daily diets and make a giant step towards losing weight and better overall health. All it takes is making it a habit and some motivation.

Substitutions, Salsa And Applesauce

Fresh or even store bought salsa can help you cut calories and fat in your healthy lifestyle while adding flavor. Certain varieties may contain more fiber and nutrients than others. This is easier to expand upon if you choose to make fresh salsa with black beans or other ingredients. Experiment with using salsa in salads and sandwiches to get a flavor boost without the sugar found in many store bought dressings. Salsa can also be mixed into soups and used in place of taco and fajita sauce. It can be a lighter and more flavorful choice than sour cream when eating Mexican and other foods. To lower the salt content you can make your own fresh salsa to suit your taste or look for lower sodium varieties.

Applesauce is another useful substitute in food preparation. Applesauce can be used instead of oil, eggs, butter, and sugar, often without those eating the finished product knowing that the food is better for them without these things. Because of this, applesauce substitution is a good choice for finicky eaters that avoid anything lighter, less fatty, or generally healthy. Another benefit of applesauce is that it is inexpensive in comparison to the ingredients that it can replace. Try it at least once and you may find this substitute becomes a habit very quickly.


Portion Control

Controlling the amount of food you eat can be easy if you use a few tricks. One way is to stop using large bowls, plates, super-sized cups, utensils, and glasses. Some people have a favorite or two among glasses, cups, plates, and bowls simply because the item may stand out or somehow differ from the other items in their cabinet. Often part of the appeal is that the items are simply larger, making it easy to overeat. Use salad plates and smaller bowls and only use large cups and glasses for water. Use small cups and glasses for drinks containing any calories so that you will be more conscious of what you are consuming. Large dishes and containers make it very easy to lose sight of what will add up on our waistlines.

Before eating, grab a handful of almonds, pistachios, or walnuts at least 20 or 30 minutes before your meal. Eating a bit of air popped popcorn is another option, but pay attention to the serving sizes of you're pre-meal snacks as well as during your meals. When going out to eat, ask for smaller portion sizes or get some of your food in a to go box. You will eat less and won't be tempted with extra food on your plate. In addition, when you utilize small pre-meal snacks you may be adding in nutrients and possibly heart healthy fats as well.

Some people weigh their food but this can be inappropriate or nearly impossible in many situations. It is easier to choose a card deck sized portion of meat then fill the rest of your plate with healthier carbohydrate and vegetable choices. Another popular portion control is to simply leave some food on the plate and never clean it as many may have been taught in their youth.


Water Before Every Meal And Small Meals

Many people were taught not to eat anything before meals and if you just can't shake the habit, you can avoid overeating by drinking a glass of water before each meal. If you are able to drink at least 10 - 16 ounces of water before each meal there will simply be less room in your stomach to fill at meal time. You will also be better hydrated while consuming fewer calories during your meals. Combining this with eating several small meals is an effective weight loss strategy. Water is required for so many body processes, including metabolism!

Eating small meals is beneficial because your body's metabolism will respond more effectively to 4 or 5 small meals rather than 3 large ones. Eating 3 large meals allows for a significant amount of time to pass between your meals, often allowing you to get hungry and allowing your metabolism to nosedive. Eating a few large meals or just one large meal daily is often also a factor in cases where people have lost weight only to gain it back with more. Women should aim for four small meals between 300 and 500 calories each depending on their age and activity levels and men can aim for four small meals consisting of 600 to 750 calories each dependent upon their age and activity levels as well.


Avoid Processed Carbohydrates

Avoiding white bread, pastries, pasta may be easier said than done for many people. However, many processed carbohydrates do nothing for you except make it more difficult for you to control your weight and ultimately, your health. Healthier carbs such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts, and beans are the best carbs to eat, avoiding white carbs such as breads, pastries, and some pastas is the best choice. When not processed, healthier carbs break down in your body more slowly than other carbs and don't provide a sudden spike in your blood sugar that you will experience with processed carbs. Healthier carb choices are important for nutritional needs and to provide energy. Fiber is an important part of healthier carbs, you know which carbs are better for you. Reach for them instead and avoid the low and no nutritional value carbs to cut calories and get better nutrition.


Eat Slowly

Many people have made it a habit to eat quickly. It is necessary to re-learn eating slowly and actually savoring your food. When I worked outside the home, I found the majority of my coworkers did not actually take the time to enjoy the taste of the foods they ate. Ironically, many of them spent a lot of time talking about food yet they wolfed food down and rushed onto something else, work related or not. However, eating quickly does not allow enough time to pass (at least 20 minutes) for you to feel full. The result is eating more than you think you are eating or eating more than you had planned on.

Try putting your fork down between every bite or taking a couple sips of water which will also give you a full feeling and lessen the total number of calories you consume at the meal. Joining in a conversation is another way to eat less, so be more social. You will need to make a conscious effort everyday for several weeks for eating slowly to become your new habit. Once eating more slowly has been deployed for at least six to eight weeks, you may find a pleasant change in the fit of your clothes.

Bonus Tip: Move Around More, You Don't Even Have To Break A Sweat

Don't avoid taking the stairs or parking your car further away in the parking lot, try it for just a month. Avoid elevators and parking in the closest spots. These two actions can keep some people from gaining weight and can actually help some people lose some weight over the course of a month and more quickly if the person exercises several times a week. Depending on how many stairs you climb and how far you walk, it is possible to lose almost one pound over the course of a month without hour long gym or organized workouts several times a week. Climbing one flight of stairs burns between 10 - 15 calories for most people and walking across level ground at just 2 mph can burn around 30 calories in just 10 minutes. Doing these two things at least a couple times a day can easily wipe out 100 calories each day and nearly a pound in a month.

For those who are computer bound at work or spend a lot of time in the car, getting up and stretching or simply marching in place can also help you maintain your flexibility and weight and contribute to better overall health. When we sit for several hours, our bodies experience physiological changes that negatively affect our metabolism and our overall health. More shocking is that more and more studies are finding these changes cannot be undone by exercise for those who spend several hours on their duffs daily! This means that if you sit for 6 hours or more today, even if you work out very vigorously for an hour or more, the internal changes will not be undone. If you are in a work, volunteer, or school environment where you are expected to sit for more than 3 hours daily, make sure that you get up and move around for at least 5 - 10 minutes every hour. Discuss your concerns and options with your teachers, employer, and your doctor to find out if more healthful options can be made available. Your health is more important than being bound to a desk or sitting behind the wheel at any age.


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    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      You are right. There are various reasons that diet sodas can make people fat such as feeling they can treat themselves to other things since there were "no" calories in their soda. Others don't realize it's biologically possible for some people to still accumulate calories from "diet" soda. All this is aside from the fact that many diet soda's have as many chemicals in them if not more than, their regular soda counterparts.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Very good hub. There are many people who drink coke. They drink a lot of it. If you just drank water, how many pound would you lose if you just drank water? Probably a lot.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks Billybuc. My favorite is substituting salsa for dressings on salads, lighter nachos (lean chicken or beef and real, low fat cheese), and sandwiches, I even use it in chili and tomato soup now and then.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good tips for sure. I have a reluctance for whatever reason to drinking water before a meal...old habits die hard. :)