The simple truth about cutting calories is that to lose weight, it is necessary to burn more calories than you eat, writes College of the Canyons’ Student Health and Wellness Center.
As many people have realized, however, it can be remarkably difficult to reduce the amount of food one eats on a daily basis.
Here are 29 useful ways to make it easier when cutting calories to help you reach your weight loss goal.
1. Alcohol Awareness
Are you a fan of micro beers? Do you tend to minimize your drinking during the week, only to find yourself binging on your favorite alcoholic drink on the weekend?
Many people can control their average daily caloric intake during the week and then find themselves drinking alcohol excessively on the weekend which can lead to extra weight, says research in Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
By carefully choosing your beverage, it is possible to reduce the impact of the occasional drink on your weight, thus cutting calories without skimping on food.
2. Appetizers Instead of Entrees
According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the large portion sizes of entrees have been a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic.
When eating at a restaurant known for overly generous portion sizes, consider ordering an appetizer instead of an entrée, MOVE! advises.
You can even choose one appetizer for the beginning of your meal and one for your main meal when cutting calories in order to still enjoy the variety and social aspects of an extended meal.
3. Tips For Cutting Calories – Avoid Distraction
You just want to kick your feet up after a long day at the office or an amazing workout at the gym, but that TV set could be ruining your chances of
The environment in which one eats has been shown to play a significant role in the types of foods chosen and the overall amount consumed.
In particular, eating while distracted by some other activity can lead to overeating for many people, states Harvard Health.
Individuals who ate snacks or meals while watching television, have a tendency to overeat, says a study in Appetite.
This may be because those eating while distracted do not accurately remember the amount they have eaten, suggests another study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Some distractions that should be avoided while consuming meals or cutting calories include watching television, reading a book, and using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
4. Avoid Drinking Your Calories
These calories can quickly add up, especially when larger sizes are selected, warns the CDC.
Numerous studies (e.g. Obesity Reviews) have conclusively proven that reducing the number of drinks sweetened with sugar that is consumed on a regular basis can help facilitate weight loss.
In addition to the extra calories, there is some evidence as reported by a 2016 study in Appetite that drinks with added sugar can negatively impact satiety levels causing people to eat even more.
While beverages with additional sugar are the most risk, naturally sweetened beverages such as juice and smoothies are also sneaky ways you ruin your attempts at cutting calories.
5. Be Conscious of Portion Size When Cutting Calories
It is crucial to keep serving sizes in mind because when people are given larger portions sizes, they are far more likely to overeat, Obesity Research reports.
Cutting calories this way can be especially difficult for individuals who are accustomed to being able to graze at unlimited buffets where multiple return trips can significantly increase the overall amount of calories consumed.
Learning how to accurately determine and choose appropriate portion sizes can be tremendously beneficial in an attempt to cut calories, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
6. Beware of Bread
Bread can easily be a source of excess calories, especially when dining out and an unlimited supply is offered before the meal.
When eating out or at home, it is better to skip filling up on the empty calories found in bread and weight for the main course if you’re looking into cutting calories.
7. Are You Cutting Calories? Careful with Condiments
Some calories hiding in your favorite sauces may be far higher than you wish to believe, says Florida Department of Health in Collier.
Before cutting calories, it is important to identify where excess calories may be hiding by becoming aware of exactly what you’re consuming.
If you find you still have a strong desire for condiments, healthy substitutions may be the best way when cutting calories. Some common substitutions include mustard, hot sauce, Mrs. Dash and salsa.
8. Caution with Cream Sauces
Creamy pasta sauces contain more calories and fat due to the inclusion of cream, butter, and cheese.
To keep with cutting calories, when given a choice, choose sauces with a tomato base instead or make substitutions to the recipe or serving size in order to painlessly reduce caloric intake, advises Prevention.com.
9. Cook Your Meals
When you buy prepackaged meals or items from a restaurant, you have no control over the ingredients or cooking method.
Meals that may seem healthy or low calorie are frequently bolstered with butter or sugar to taste better in restaurants.
Studies in Public Health Nutrition indicate that cooking meals at home frequently has a positive association with creating a healthy diet, lower calorie consumption on a regular basis and cutting calories.
10. Counting Calories Can Mean Cutting Calories
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, counting calories you eat and burn is one of the most important factors in actually reducing the total amount you consume each day.
It is also important to know the difference between too many calories and too few so that maintaining a balance is possible, says the CDC.
No matter the plan you pick, tracking calorie consumption and expenditure were found to be present in the most successful attempts, states a review in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.
Now, this is made quicker and easier thanks to technology with mobile apps that make cutting calories on the go quick and straightforward, says the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare.
11. Different Cooking Strategies
Taking the time to cook the majority of your meals will only help you significantly reduce your caloric intake if you use optimal cooking strategies the majority of the time.
Instead of frying foods consider baking, broiling, grilling, or steaming them.
Regardless of what type of cooking method you decide to use, add less fat to the preparation to cut calories.
12. Dangers of Salad Dressings
The dressing is the most dangerous item on a salad when cutting calories because it often contains high fat and calorie totals even in small doses.
Make your salad dressing to ensure the right types of fats are used and that you can ultimately control the total amount of calories.
Choose low-fat salad dressing whenever possible but make sure the flavor hasn’t been supplemented with increased amounts of sugar that may keep the calorie total the same.
Order your dressing on the side and dip your fork into it before scooping up bites of lettuce to limit the total amount of dressing used.
13. Drink Enough Water
Drinking water with meals is associated with consuming fewer calories during the meal, according to Nutrition Reviews.
Increased hydration throughout the day leads to fewer calories consumed during the same period, states Frontiers in Nutrition.
Drinking about two cups of water before a meal significantly reduced the total number of calories subsequently consumed, suggests a study in Obesity.
Experts from the CDC explain that drinking enough liquids each day is necessary for the body to perform optimally and that the majority of liquid should be water.
14. Eat More Fruit
According to the Nutrition Journal, eating a whole fruit is associated with decreased caloric consumption and weight loss.
Some studies in the Journal of Nutrition have shown eating three servings of pears or apples daily is associated with weight loss.
Consuming whole fruit is more effective in creating a sense of fullness than drinking fruit juices, which can help reduce the urge to consume more calories from other sources, states research in Appetite.
15. Eat More Mindfully
Mindfulness – being fully conscious of what is going on around and within you at any given moment.
Eating mindfully requires observing one’s body for hunger and satiety signals, withholding judgment, attention to one’s authentic reaction to food, and savoring each bite or sip individually, writes Move!
Studies in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that eating more slowly and mindfully can decrease the number of calories consumed at a single meal.
It may also contribute to fewer calories consumed after the meal, adds The British Journal of Nutrition.
By paying attention to the number of times you chew before swallowing and then increasing it, meal size and calorie consumption can be decreased, says research in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Creating a mindful approach to eating needs to be practiced consistently in order to be effective at helping you cut calories, writes the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center.
16. Eat More Vegetables
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that most people do not eat the minimum recommended amount of vegetables each day (5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies).
The amount changes by age and gender and it is important to understand what counts as a serving and the calories in each (see MyPlate).
Eating more vegetables can help people lose weight by increasing satiety levels with fewer calories, says the CDC.
Take the simple road when adding veggies to your diet. Include vegetable soup, salads, precutting vegetables to snack on, trying one new variety each week, and taking advantage of the easy to prepare options available in the freezer section of your local market, MyPlate advises.
17. Eat Only Half at Restaurants
Research in Obesity shows that while many chefs believe they are serving regular portion sizes, actually they are serving up to four times more food than what is recommended by the government.
In part, the obesity epidemic is due to larger than recommended portion sizes people are consuming on a regular basis, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute confirms.
The increase in portion sizes over the last several decades, as well as the growth in the number of restaurants and the frequency with which people eat meals away from home, all correlate with individuals consuming more calories than intended and substantial weight gain, adds the CDC.
To accurately assess how many calories one is consuming it is necessary to be able to identify appropriate portion sizes.
This makes it easier to eat only the proper portion of each item and effortlessly reduce the calories consumed in a single meal.
Additional food can be shared with a friend or wrapped up to eat at a later meal, advises the CDC.
18. Food Label Literacy
Not all foods that are bought in a store are inherently unhealthy.
However, the only way to identify which is a good choice and which may result in excess calorie consumption one must learn to read food labels.
One of the most important things to recognize on a food label is the size of a serving and how many servings each package contains.
People often think the calorie total listed on a bag is for the full contents when in fact the bag contains two or more servings.
19. Forgo the Large to Make Cutting Calories Easier
Restaurant portions are far greater than what is recommended, ordering a large size only adds additional unnecessary calories.
While it may be tempting to get significantly greater portions by paying only slightly more, it is far worse for your overall caloric consumption.
Cut calories by always choosing the regular size when sizing options are available.
20. Healthier Snacks
People often find themselves reaching for snacks for reasons other than actual hunger.
If you enjoy crunchy foods, fresh vegetables with a low-calorie dip can satisfy the urge to chew.
Sort larger packages of snack foods into individual bags, so the fitting portions are easy to find and access, advises MedlinePlus.
21. Healthy Pantry
Clean your pantry of all the junk food, so it is simpler to make healthier choices.
The key to a healthy pantry begins with a health conscious grocery list which includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and healthy fats.
22. Healthy Substitutions
One way to painlessly cut calories is to make small changes in favorite recipes. This is often the idea behind prepackaged meals and programs like those at the Center for Medical Weight Loss.
Replace full-fat dairy with 2 percent, exchange red meat with fish a few times a week, and try refined grain products to whole wheat.
23. Periodic Fasts
Periodically fasting is popular in many countries and has been enthusiastically received by many physicians. However, if you have a medical condition of any kind, seek your doctor’s approval before cutting calories in this manner.
According to the International Journal of Health Sciences, the practice requires cycling your daily routines to create periods of fasting followed by periods of eating more regularly.
The overall effect is a total weekly reduction of calories with minimal changes to dining habits during the periods one is eating, says Canadian Medical Association Journal.
24. Make Sleep a Priority
By ensuring that one is receiving enough sleep, it may be possible to cut calories.
A lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to increased instances of distracted eating and drinking, according to The University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Sleeplessness increase the risk of obesity, according to some studies in the International Review of Psychiatry.
25. Protein at Each Meal For Cutting Calories
Some studies in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have indicated that protein may help facilitate weight loss and help people maintain a healthy weight.
Choosing lean protein can provide the same flavor profiles while reducing the overall number of calories, states MyPlate.
26. Quit the Clean Plate Club
Many people have been taught it is necessary to eat everything they are served which can lead to far more calories than one wants or needs.
If you are full, put aside the leftovers to have as a snack or small meal at a later time, advises The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Try to eat with the hand you don’t write with to slow down and give your body enough time to feel full, so you can stop when you’ve had enough rather than when your plate is empty.
Some people find it easier to get a plate of food with their “normal” serving sizes and then put a little of each serving back when cutting calories.
27. Small Plate Strategy
Portion sizes and the number of calories served at a meal are often dictated by the plate size from which an individual eats.
Over the years, plates, portions, and calorie totals have increased dramatically, states Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
Choosing smaller plates can help make it easier to cut calories without feeling deprived, the International Journal of Obesity says.
This holds true for sweet treats like ice cream too, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine adds.
28. Smaller Sweets
Just because you want to cut calories doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite sweet treat!
Children’s sizes are available for most desserts which are enough to satisfy cravings and significantly cut the total number of calories.
When buying prepackaged treats avoid king sized options and look for the smallest package or single serving options.
Consider splitting a large dessert with your dining partner, so you are both able to cut calories and enjoy a delicious treat.
29. Start with Soup
Starting a meal with soup is an excellent way to limit the total number of calories consumed during a meal.
Soup has been shown to increase feelings of satiation, according to a study in Appetite.
Soups with a broth base are especially effective at increasing sense of satisfaction and are lower in calories than creamier options, the CDC adds.
Cutting Calories – Bottom Line
We have “right-now” food and convenience meals everywhere. It is far too easy to consume too many calories unintentionally.
Using the tips provided, you can easily cut some of those extra calories out and achieve your weight loss goals.
Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.