Shedding off pounds means creating a caloric deficit in your diet—that is, burning more calories than what you're consuming. But, cutting weight doesn't require starving yourself or clocking hours of cardio at the gym. In fact, rapidly losing weight is as easy as cutting out 500 needless calories a day from your diet. And with the help of Molly Kimball, RD, a nutritionist based in New Orleans, and Lauren Slayton, founder of Food Trainers in New York City, we’ve done the math for you and found 11 fat-trimming foods to swap out—and 11 to swap in—to your diet. Each food alone will reduce caloric intake by at least 100 calories per serving, so combine five and you’re already stripping away those 500 extra calories off your plate—and the more swaps, the more potential for fat loss. The best part? You won't feel like you're depriving yourself or missing out on any of the good stuff.
Those savory forms of trail mixes are not only loaded with about 700 calories per cup, they contain roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar making them highly addictive and let’s face it—you’re not going to just have one serving.
Food Swap: switch to popcorn for 35 calories per cup, specifically air-popped or any lighter pre-popped brand, says kimball.
Chucking soda from your diet is a must. This fizzy liquid consists of the dangerous ingredient high-fructose corn syrup and adds up to about 240 calories per bottle. And even diet soda is scientifically proved to add inches to your gut.
Drink Swap: opt for setlzer, "but avoid zero calorie-flavored seltzers with artificial sweeteners—they’ll drive your sweet craving through the roof," say Slayton.
Dried fruit is another trap that could put a halt on cutting weight. Raisins and cranberries pack more than 240 calories and nearly 50 grams of sugar per half-cup serving (about two handfuls), so forget about using either as a topping for oatmeal or salad.
Food Swap: switch to grapes for just 15 grams of sugar per half cup, says Kimball. (And store a bundle in your freezer for dessert, too.)
Regular pasta is high in fat and filled with excessive amounts of carbohydrates (and that’s before you soak it in sauce).
Food Swap: a dish of zoodles (zucchini noodles); two zucchinis are only 66 calories, contain almost no fat, and are nutritious enough to satisfy your hunger. “You’ll need a tool called a spiralizer to make the “pasta like noodles,” says Slayton. She suggests using the Veggetti.
Mashed potatoes are depicted as a comfort food for a reason: they lack nutritional value and contribute to weight gain over time.
Food Swap: substitute it with cauliflower which holds no fat and offers more fiber to keep you feeling full. Plus, cauliflower is a useful veggie: you can mash it, use it to make a pizza crust, or even create cauliflower rice, suggests Slayton.