Let’s do the math: To lose one pound in seven days, you need to subtract about 3,500 calories. The safest, most hunger-free way to do this is to spread it out over the course of a week, deleting approximately 500 calories a day. Some of that number can be burned off by ramping up your workouts, while the rest of it can be achieved by making some ridiculously easy food swaps that won’t leave your stomach growly or make your taste buds miss out on flavor. Try as many of these creative ways to cut calories as you can (altogether, they add up to 3,500 calories you won’t miss), and watch the number on the scale head south.
Skip The Cheese On Your Sandwich At Lunch
The typical slice of Swiss or American can rack up 80 to 100 calories, says Kylene Bogden, RD, a nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic. Order your midday ham and cheese or turkey and Swiss sammy without the two to three slices the typical restaurant or deli piles on, and you cut up to 300 calories without sacrificing the filling protein in the meat and poultry. That means if you go cheese-free three times this week, you’ll come up short 900 calories.
“One crisp piece of lettuce has about five calories, while the typical burger bun packs close to 250,” says Bogden. Considering that most white-bread buns don’t even taste all that good and provide little more than simple carb starchiness, it’s a no-brainer. Bibb and Romaine lettuce hold up best, or try a more exotic leafy green, like radicchio or Swiss chard. (Check out these 5 delicious, healthy greens that aren’t kale.)
Sip Fruit-Flavored Herbal Water
A standard eight-ounce serving of fruit juice has about 120 calories, though most of us pour juice in glasses much larger than that. “Get the same fruit flavor by drinking naturally flavored sparkling or regular water infused with fruit or herbs, and you save 100 or so calories per glass,” says Bogden. Make this swap once a day, and you’ll consume 700 fewer calories this week. (Here are 5 ways to make water taste better so you’ll drink more of it.)
Spritz Lemon on Your Salad
Dressing is a big fat bomb, so skip it and instead squeeze half a lemon over your greens. “You get this great tangy flavor kick, and the moisture helps bind your salad ingredients together-but you can easily delete 200 calories,” says Bogden. And if you consume three salads a week, those caloric savings really add up.
Pour Almond Milk in Your Cereal Bowl
Unsweetened almond milk is super-nutritious and delicious, and a half-cup only has 30 calories (versus the 70 calories in the same serving size of regular milk). Sure it’s a small swap, but if a bowl of cereal is your go-to breakfast, it’ll add up to 280 saved calories over the course of a week, says Bogden.
Mist Your Oil When You Cook
“Cooking food generally requires putting oil in the pan or baking dish, and the amount most of us put on can add 300 calories to a meal,” says Bogden. The solution: Buy an oil mister, which evenly spreads a much thinner layer of your healthy vegetable or olive oil across the bottom of the pan. You can save 250 calories this way without sacrificing the heart-healthy, natural oil, she says. Over two nights of cooking, that comes out to 500 fewer cals you’re taking in.
Order Thin-Slice Pizza
All that bread on the typical thicker-crusted pizza slice packs extra calories without giving you much extra nutrition, says Bogden. Make yours thin crust and skip meat or extra cheese toppings, and you save 200 to 300 calories. (Make your own with these 9 tasty (and healthy!) pizza recipes.)
Make Greek Yogurt Your Go-To Condiment
The mayo and sour cream you use on sandwiches and in dips has about 100 calories per tablespoon, while nonfat Greek yogurt, which is just as tangy and flavorful, scores you about a third that amount, says Bogden. Swap five tablespoons of mayo per week for the same amount of Greek yogurt to cut about 335 calories.