10 Food Swaps to Lose 10 (or More!) Pounds

By Kristen Carlucci, RD

It’s time to say goodbye to excessively restrictive diets and focus on food swaps guaranteed to save calories without ever feeling hungry or sacrificing flavor. It’s as simple as making just five, 100-calorie swaps every day to lose one pound or more a week. My clients have lost 10, 50, even 100 pounds without ever feeling deprived or giving up their favorite foods, and so can you.
Here’s how:

1. 12oz can of soda (143 calories, 40g sugar)
Simple Swap: 12 oz kombucha (53 calories, 3g sugar)
Forget that sugar-filled soda and choose a bottle of sweet and nutritious kombucha instead. This fizzy and fermented tea drink contains probiotics and antioxidants to help with digestion, boost your immune system, and improve energy levels.

2. Large bagel (360 calories, 70g of carbs)
Simple Swap: English muffin (120 calories, 25g carbs)
There’s no need to give up your beloved carbs forever. Just swap it out for a smaller alternative. English muffins have three times less calories and carbs than a large bagel. Bonus: If you choose whole wheat, you’ll also have the benefit of added fiber to keep you fuller and stabilize blood sugar levels.

3. 2 tbsp mayo (180 calories, 4g saturated fat)
Simple Swap: 2 tbsp hummus (70 calories, 1g saturated fat)
Cut your calories in half while adding more flavor to your every day sandwich by switching from mayo to hummus. This condiment made of chickpeas, olive oil (a healthy fat), and spices will take your sandwich to a whole new level while also helping you shed the weight.

4. 1/2 cup white rice (148 calories, 32g of carbs, 0.5g fiber)
Simple Swap: 1 cup riced cauliflower (60 calories, 10g carbs, 4g fiber)
Double your portion of rice for over half the calories? Yes, please! This low-carb rice alternative can be found in the frozen section of your local Trader Joe’s or try the Green Giant brand for the perfect side dish. You can also make it yourself by chopping cauliflower florets in a food processor and then sautéing it on the stovetop for five minutes.

5. 1 oz bag of potato chips (160 calories, 1g fiber, 170mg sodium, 2g protein)
Simple Swap: 1 oz raw almonds (about 23) (160 calories, 3g fiber, 0mg sodium, 6g protein)
While the calories are the same, that bag of salty potato chips will leave you feeling bloated and hungry 10 minutes later. The almonds will satisfy that crunchy craving while also keeping you full for hours due to its protein, healthy fat, and fiber content.

6. 1 cup cooked pasta (220 calories, 43g carbs)
Simple Swap: 2 cups spiraled zucchini noodles (63 calories, 13g carbs)
Sneak in an extra serving of vegetables by whipping up a warm bowl of zucchini pasta. Using an inexpensive spiralizer or julienne peeler, wash two large zucchini, cut off the ends and place in the spiralizer and begin turning until spaghetti or fettucine shaped “pasta” is formed. Heat the pasta on the stove or microwave and top with a turkey bolognese sauce, or prep a cold pasta tossed with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp feta cheese.

7. 1 can beer (150 calories)
Simple Swap: 1 glass white wine spritzer (70 calories)
Losing weight shouldn’t mean skipping out on happy hour. Just swap out that beer for a refreshing and low-calorie spritzer made with white wine, seltzer water and a squirt of lemon. Not only will you save over 80 calories per drink, but the seltzer may also save you from that next day hangover.

8. 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream (270 calories, 11g saturated fat, 21g sugar)
Simple Swap: 1 cup banana soft serve with dark chocolate chips (145 calories, 0g saturated fat, 18g sugar [14g natural sugar] )
Make dessert completely guilt-free by swapping out ice cream for banana soft serve. You and your family won’t even be able to tell that this treat is secretly healthy. The super easy way to make it at home: Chop one frozen medium banana (extra ripe) and blend in a blender or food processor for five minutes until smooth and creamy. Top with 1 tbsp chocolate chips. Makes one serving.

9. 12oz orange juice (165 calories, 1g fiber, 29g sugar)
Simple Swap: 1 large orange (87 calories, 4g fiber, 17g sugar)
Studies show that chewing your calories instead of drinking them increases fullness and satiety and may help you eat less calories overall. When you choose the fruit, you’re getting more fiber to keep your blood sugar from spiking and cutting your calories and sugar intake by half.

10. Grande Vanilla Whole Milk Latte (290 calories, 6g saturated fat, 35g sugar)
Simple Swap: Grande Skim Caffe Misto w/ 1 pump vanilla syrup (90 calories, 0g saturated fat, 15g sugar)
Mimic your favorite morning latte by ordering a skim caffe misto, made of half milk and half coffee with one pump of vanilla syrup (instead of the 4 plus found in the latte.) You’ll still get a caffeine fix while ditching 200 calories, 6g of saturated fat, and 20 excess grams of sugar.

Making changes to your diet doesn’t have to be hard, it’s about taking the foods you love and making small changes, so you can lose the weight and more importantly, keep it off for good. You got this!

Healthy Habit Swaps

Your plate being 50% carbs, 40% protein, and 10% vegetables
Simple Swap: Your plate being 50% vegetables, 25% carbs, 25% protein
By increasing the portion of vegetables on your plate and taking smaller portions of carbohydrates and protein, you’re creating a better balanced, lower calorie, and highly nutritious plate.

Your 12” plate
Simple Swap: 10” plate
Research shows by downsizing your plate, you’ll eat an average of 22% less calories overall, leading to an average weight loss of 18 pounds a year.

Wansink, Brian; Van Ittersum, Koert (2013). “Portion Size Me: Plate Size Can Decrease Serving Size, Intake, and Food Waste”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 19 (2): 320–332.

1 hour of steady state cardio on the elliptical Simple Swap: 20 minutes high-intensity intervals on the elliptical High intensity intervals can give you better results in half the time due to a process called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This afterburn effect has been shown to stoke your metabolism and increase calorie and fat burn for up to 48 hours post-workout.

Bersheim, E. and Bahr, R. (2003). Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Medicine, 33, 14, 1037-1060 LaForgia, J., Withers, R. and Gore, C. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sport Sciences, 24, 12, 1247-1264.