The goal when on a diet is to eat less calories than your body needs so we tap into our fat stores for energy.
Whether you believe fully in “CICO” – calories in vs. calories out, or you are more in the “calories don’t matter“/clean eating camp, you will need to eat less if you want your waistline to shrink.
Where do we cut our calories from when dieting? Carbohydrates? Fats? Protein? Everyone has their preferences – and all preferences will work if properly applied.
I am a huge fan of flexible dieting, but that doesn’t mean I eat a steady diet of Pop Tarts and brownies. I eat very “clean” for the most part – but that is due to the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients whole foods provide you – not to mention the fact that they fill me up much more effectively when I’m dieting.
If you spend years macro counting, you begin to realize some truths. There are foods which aren’t “worth it” in terms of how many calories they contain when compared to their satiety index (how full they make you feel).
One of the simplest ways to cut calories (and speed up fat loss) is to eliminate some of these “calorie bomb” foods and employ a few extra “tricks” to keep yourself under maintenance.
10 Ways To Save Calories On A Diet:
1. Skip the nuts.
It really doesn’t matter what type of nuts we are talking about. All nuts contain a load of calories.
It remains a mystery how almonds ever became poised as a “protein champ” and a “healthy food pariah” when a few handfuls of almonds (or any nuts really) will net you a cool 500 calories without filling you up whatsoever.
Nut butters are bad choices as well. What’s worse than a handful of peanuts? Having those peanuts in almost liquid form – and eating them with a spoon. Even more calories per bite.
2. Hold the cheese.
Cheese is like the “WD-40” of sandwiches. Without cheese, your sandwich tastes dry, sticky, and boring. With cheese, your sandwich tastes salty, creamy, and tantalizing. The reason for this is cheese’s sky-high fat content, which in turn makes it sky high in calories.
A very simple way to decrease your daily calories by 400-500 is to keep cheese off of your sandwiches, your salads, and your omelettes.
There is no denying the fact that cheese tastes fantastic, but there’s also no denying that consuming it regularly will make fat-loss progress more difficult.
3. Use salsa as a condiment.
Condiments can make or break your diet – especially with your carb choices. A plain baked potato is tough to get through, as the dryness is enough to make any dieter go crazy.
You need something other than butter – as butter will add a large number of calories to any meal.
Topping your potato with fresh salsa will save you a significant number of calories and will taste great. Be sure to get salsa from the deli, and choose a salsa with fresh ingredients and low-sugar. Pile it on your potato or mix it in with your rice and enjoy – you’ll have a tasty, low-calorie alternative that will keep you on point.
4. Spices, not sauces.
Protein is your friend when dieting, but it can become a chore to eat all those meat products. Whey shakes can help, but they aren’t optimal due to their low satiety factor (they don’t fill you up).
What do you do when your beef, chicken, turkey, and pork get a bit boring, but you don’t want to turn to the shakes?
Time to explore the world of spices.
There are countless rubs, spices, salts, etc. for you to try out on your meats. Whether you go for a pre-made rub, or create your own, pick out some new spices and give them a go. Some favorites include coriander, cumin, curry, dill weed, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric.
Spices are a low-calorie way to ensure your protein tastes fantastic and stays low-sugar and low-calorie.
5. Sprays, not oils.
Yes, we are aware that olive oil and coconut oil are “good for you” and “healthy fats”.
We are also aware that eating them judiciously will add unnecessary calories to your diet, and unnecessary inches to your waistline.
If you have room in your macros to include these oils in your food, that’s one thing. However, if you don’t have a specific plan and are loading your frying pan with gobs of excess calories in a quest to be “anti-inflammatory” or “Paleo”, then you’re missing the mark.
Use some Pam – or if you’re worried about “chemicals” (eye-roll), use some EVOO spray for almost no calories at all.
6. Drink zero calorie beverages only.
Somehow, drinks with “agave nectar” and “cane sugar” became a favorite of the health conscious.
Both of those terms simply mean “sugar” – no matter what way you dress them up.
If you’re worried about what a Diet Coke will do to you because of an infographic you saw on social media, then so be it. Stick to water, teas, and coffee.
No matter how you feel about artificial sweeteners, your drink should have exactly zero calories in them – with one exception: Alcohol.
As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t get you drunk, it better not mess with your waistline.
7. Make your own ranch dip.
Ranch is the food additive sent down from the heavens. It’s tasty, versatile, creamy, and savory. It’s also a calorie bomb.
The recommended serving size for ranch dressing is 2 tablespoons. Who in the HELL eats two tablespoons of ranch dressing? Most of us eat ranch by the half-bottle.
If you want to enjoy your ranch guilt-free, here’s how you do it: Grab a container of low-fat, low-carb plain Greek yogurt and a packet of ranch seasoning. Mix the two together.
You’ll have a “ranchy”, low-calorie dip that will be an excellent substitute – for a fraction of the calories.
**Editor’s note – this will be too thick to use as actual “dressing” – this is best utilized as a “dip”.
8. Arctic Zero FTW.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your Instagram fitness coach is full of shit. On a diet, you will seldom actually get to eat ice cream. Perhaps every once in a while as a splurge it will work, but a steady diet of Ben & Jerry’s when in a cutting stage is a poor use of your calories.
Luckily, “Arctic Zero” is available for consumption. For an unreal 150 calories per PINT of ice cream (with certain flavors), you can have the next best thing – “almost” the taste of ice cream for almost no calories. Arctic Edge tastes…………pretty good. It’s not ice cream, but if you close your eyes and eat it slowly, it’s close enough.
FYI – I’m not a sponsor. I simply enjoy their products and think they are great choices for treats when dieting.
9. Go straight edge temporarily.
Abstaining from alcohol isn’t a requirement for fat loss. On the flip side, if you do go “straight edge” and stay sober during your cut, the fat will come off you easier than if you don’t. You’ll have more energy, get better sleep, recover from your workouts, be able to train harder, and keep your stress level lower.
As a bonus, you will see if you use alcohol as a “social lubrication” as many claim, or as a “self-medication”. More of us “self-medicate” than we think. Go stone-cold sober for two months and see how you feel every Saturday night. Your mood and anxiety level will indicate whether you rely on alcohol for a good time or not.
What you find out may surprise you.
10. Drink your coffee black.
Man up. You don’t need sweetener, syrups, or flavors.
If you put butter in it, I’m going to find you.
Yours in cutting fat,