Calorie-Saving Swaps for Sugar, Soda & More

Jun 12 2019 Hi Lisa,

I loved your emails about replacing carbs with veggies. Do you have swaps for everyday foods besides bread and pasta?

Swapaholic Sarah Hi Swapaholic Sarah,

Yes! Swaps are my life. There are so many simple switches you can make to save hundreds of calories. Swap ‘til you drop!

Instead of Soda… Sparkling Water

I love bubbly beverages, but we all know that regular soda is packed with sugar and/or chemicals. Instead, I go for sparkling water. Zero calories, often unsweetened, and maximum fizz! Perrier is my pick.

Instead of Regular Ground Beef… Extra-Lean Ground Beef

Ground beef isn’t off-limits! Extra-lean ground beef actually has fewer calories than lean ground turkey, and it has less than HALF the calories of 80/20 ground beef. It’s surprisingly juicy and flavorful, considering how lean it is. Look for the kind labeled 96 or 97% lean, and use it for burgers, meatloaf, skillet meals, and more. (Click for recipes.)

Instead of Dairy Milk… Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Swapping whole milk for this low-calorie almond milk will save you over 100 calories per cup! Even switching from skim milk will save you 50+ calories. It has a nice subtle taste and works pretty much anywhere you’d use regular milk: in cereal, coffee, oatmeal, baking… You name it. There's also regular unflavored almond milk, which is great for savory foods like soups and sauces. I prefer the shelf-stable cartons, so I never run out!

Instead of Sugar/Honey/Agave… Natural No-Calorie Sweetener

White sugar is definitely not the best choice (for health OR calorie counts!), but even natural honeys and syrups are loaded with calories. Instead, I use natural no-calorie sweetener, like Truvia, which is made with stevia leaf extract. Each 0-calorie packet is as sweet as 2 teaspoons of sugar, saving you 35 calories. Stevia-based sweeteners even come in spoonable containers, liquid drops, and this honey-style nectar.

Instead of Eggs… Egg Whites

People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you use egg yolks?” The answer: I save calories wherever I can! (I get plenty of healthy fat from foods like salmon and almonds. More on that subject here.) Egg whites are pure protein, and ditching the yolks can cut your egg-based calories by more than 50 percent. Three large eggs have around 215 calories, but 6 egg whites (the equivalent amount) have only about 100 calories! Rather than cracking and separating dozens of eggs, I buy cartons of liquid egg whites or egg substitute.

Instead of Dried Fruit… Freeze-Dried Fruit

Dried fruit isn’t as innocent as it seems… It’s calorie dense and often has added sugar, making it more like candy than fresh fruit. Freeze-dried fruit, its light ‘n crunchy counterpart, gives you a major serving size for a tiny calorie count. I snack on it straight, but it’s also fantastic in recipes. I love these packs from Brothers All Natural.

Instead of Peanut Butter… Powdered Peanut Butter

Powdered peanut butter is basically defatted peanuts ground into powder. It has 50% fewer calories and 80% less fat than regular PB! Add a little water, and you have peanut butter ready for dipping, spreading, or adding to baked goods. For recipes like these, I’ll often go half & half with regular peanut butter and powdered PB. Fewer calories with lots of flavor!

Instead of Salad Dressing… Salsa

Salsa’s not just for dipping -- it’s also for dressing! It’s easy to go overboard with salad dressing, and restaurant salads often contain 2 - 3 servings. Choose salsa instead, and you’ll save hundreds of calories. If you’re in the mood for something creamy, mix it with fat-free Greek yogurt or light ranch dressing! Speaking of yogurt…

Instead of Sour Cream… Fat-Free Greek Yogurt

Fat-free Greek yogurt has almost the same texture and tart taste as sour cream, but with way fewer calories. It also packs a protein punch. I use Greek yogurt in dips (sweet and savory), scoopable salads, slaws… It’s even good on top of chili and soup! Check out all these recipes.

Hungry for More?

Save hundreds of calories with tips & tricks from my latest podcast episode: “The 100-Calorie Episode: Ways to Save, Burn & More!” Listen now, or subscribe and listen later!

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Chew on this:

Happy National Peanut Butter Cookie Day (June 12th)! How about a no-bake cookie fix in the form of this peanut butter cookie dough?

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