24 Food swaps that slash calories

These simple substitutions cut calories painlessly and can add up to a big difference on your scale.
Health.com // Health.com

When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. "While complete diet makeovers can be overwhelming, focusing on small simple changes makes healthy eating more manageable and sustainable over the long term," says Kelly Pritchett, RD, PhD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Instead of throwing your kitchen, eating habits, and sanity upside down, focus on making these simple food swaps suggested by Pritchett, as well as Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD and CEO of Real Food Moms, and Kimberly Gomer, a registered dietitian at Pritikin Longevity Center. These swaps will save you calories and help you slim down.

by K. Aleisha Fetters

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Breakfast: Granola

Instead of: Granola
Eat this: Oatmeal

The body benefit: A half-cup cooked serving of Quaker Steel Cut Oats contains just 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 1 gram of sugar. Sprinkling 10 fresh blueberries onto your oatmeal adds natural sweetness for just 8 calories. Meanwhile, a half-cup of Quaker's Apple, Cranberry, & Almond Granola clocks in at 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and a whopping 13 grams of sugar—and that's before you add any milk.

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Breakfast: Eggs

Instead of: Egg sandwich
Eat this: Scrambled eggs with veggies

The body benefit: Filled with fiber, veggies will give you a longer-lasting energy boost than the empty carbs in a breakfast sandwich. Plus, a generous helping of tomato, mushroom, or spinach in your eggs is a flavorful way to sneak in at least one of your five-a-day. Two large eggs scrambled with a half-cup of spinach comes in at 150 calories, a far cry from the 290 calories you'll find in a Dunkin' Donuts Bacon, Egg, and Cheese English muffin sandwich.

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Breakfast: Yogurt

Instead of: Fruit at the bottom yogurt
Eat this: Plain yogurt with fresh fruit

The body benefit: The concoction at the bottom of yogurt containers is typically more sugar than fruit. Slice up some strawberries or plop in some blueberries for a fresher take on the fruit-yogurt combo. Switching from Dannon's blueberry-flavored fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt to their plain variety topped with fresh blueberries will save you 60 calories and 13 grams of sugar.

More: How to buy the healthiest yogurt

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Breakfast: Coffee

Instead of: Latte
Drink this: Café Americano

The body benefit: Sticking with the straight stuff gives you a more concentrated dose of coffee—and its free-radical fighting antioxidants. After all, research from the University of Scranton shows coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet. Even if you can't stand black coffee, a splash of low-fat milk, drizzle of honey, or dash of good-for-you cinnamon can still help you save hundreds of calories over a latte, which gets its extra calories from steamed milk and added sugar.

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Lunch: Soup

Instead of: Tomato-basil soup
Eat this: Broth-based minestrone

The body benefit: Don't let the word "tomato" fool you. It's so thick because it's full of heavy cream, and a serving can set you back nearly 500 calories. Stick with broth-based soups with chunks of vegetables you can actually sink your teeth into, like this tomato soup recipe, which is just 129 calories per serving.

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Lunch: Salad

Instead of: Iceberg
Eat this: Spinach

The body benefit: Sure, it's sort of green, but iceberg lettuce really doesn't have much nutrition to call its own. Spinach, however, is full of iron, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A and C, which your body needs to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape.

More: How to choose the healthiest salad greens

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Lunch: Side

Instead of: French fries
Eat this: Potato salad

The body benefit: Chilled potatoes pack more resistant starch than any other kind of spud, according to a 2013 USDA Agricultural Research Service study. Sometimes called the third starch, resistant starch is not absorbed in the small intestine, making you eat less and feel fuller longer. Use mustard in place of mayo to cut even more calories.

More: 26 reasons to love potatoes

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Lunch: Bread

Instead of: White hamburger bun
Eat this: Whole-wheat hamburger bun

The body benefit: While they both come in at about 150 calories per serving, a whole-grain bun has several added benefits. Compare Arnold's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns with their White Hamburger Rolls, for instance: the wheat version contains three extra grams of both protein and fiber, which each help you feel fuller for longer. Plus, research shows that consuming whole grains as opposed to refined can help prevent inflammation and may even help your body burn more fat.

Try this recipe: Best Backyard Burger

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Dinner: Chicken

Instead of: Chicken stir-fry
Eat this: Tandoori chicken

The body benefit: Besides skipping the sodium-filled soy sauce, tandoori's curry is a great source of the antioxidant curcumin, which, according to research from Tufts University, inhibits the formation of fat tissue.

Try this recipe: Tandoori Chicken Bites with Mango Chutney

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