100 Easy Ways to Cut 50 Calories

Updated: Mar. 25, 2023

Use these simple tricks to cut calories from your plate, for health benefits and fast weight loss.


Easy Tweaks: Breakfast

1. Choose fresh fruit instead of juice. One orange has 60 calories, while a cup of orange juice contains 110. Calories saved: 50

2. Swap a cup of whole milk for a cup of skim. Calories saved: 65

3. Prefer the taste of 2% milk? Use a ½ cup of 2% in your morning cereal instead of a cup of whole milk. Calories saved: 90

4. Enjoy a large red, white, or pink grapefruit topped with artificial sweetener; forget the sugar. Calories saved: 15 per teaspoon of sugar omitted

5. Instead of 1 ½ cups of plain oatmeal for breakfast, try ¾ cup, add 2 tablespoons of low-fat granola with raisins, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Here’s how cinnamon can aid weight lossCalories saved: 65


Easy Tweaks: Breakfast

6. Substitute an 8-ounce low-fat yogurt for classic or custard-style yogurt. Calories saved: 100

7. Trade 2 French toast sticks for 1 whole-grain waffle. Calories saved: 70

8. Need a topping for pancakes or waffles? Try 1 cup of sliced, ripe fruit instead of 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Calories saved: 50

9. Hold the dollop (2 teaspoons) of butter on any breakfast item. Calories saved: 65

10. Substitute 2 low-fat turkey sausage links instead of 2 regular sausage links.Don’t miss these other healthy breakfast ideas for any weight loss plan. Calories saved: 100


Easy Tweaks: Breakfast

11. Use egg whites when preparing your favorite omelet instead of whole eggs. Calories saved: 55 per egg yolk omitted

12. Spread 2 teaspoons of fat-free tub margarine on your whole-grain toast instead of 2 teaspoons of stick margarine. Calories saved: 60

13. Swap a large 4-inch plain bagel for a smaller 3-inch one. Calories saved: 100

14. Ditch the glazed donut and eat a cookie. A 3-inch peanut butter cookie is an okay choice; an oatmeal cookie is even better. Calories saved: 50-75

15. Keep the meat and cut the fat. Swap 4 strips (about an ounce) of regular bacon for 2 ounces of Canadian bacon. Calories saved: 70

16. Use spreadable fruit on your toast rather than butter. Consider berries in particular –– here’s how they can help you lose weight if you incorporate them into your breakfastCalories saved: 60


Easy Tweaks: Lunch and Dinner

17. Cut back on portion sizes of rice, pasta, or noodles by ¼ cup. Calories saved: 50

18. Choose a baked potato topped with hot and spicy salsa instead of 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Calories saved: 50

19. Make your burgers with 4 ounces of ground turkey instead of ¼ pound of ground beef. Calories saved: 50

20. Eat an ear of fresh corn-on-the-cob instead of a cup of kernels from a can. Calories saved: 60

21. Forget the broccoli-cheddar soup, and have a cup of minestrone instead. Calories saved: 60

iStock/john shepherd

Easy Tweaks: Lunch and Dinner

22. Swap the Swiss on your sandwich for 1 ounce of fat-free American, or better yet, skip the cheese altogether. Calories saved: 65

23. Wraps? Try 2 corn tortillas instead of 1 flour tortilla. Calories saved: 75

24. Enjoy “light” dressing on your dinner salad instead of 2 tablespoons of full-fat dressing. Calories saved: 70

25. Have your sandwich in a small, whole-wheat pita, rather than on 2 slices of whole-grain bread. Calories saved: 85

26. Subs for lunch? Substitute 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise for 2 tablespoons of the high-fat version. That’s something to consider if you’re making these healthy lunch ideas the whole family will loveCalories saved: 100


Easy Tweaks: Lunch and Dinner

27. When sautéing veggies, replace butter or oil with cooking spray. Two quick spritzes of a butter-flavored cooking spray have about 5 calories, compared to 2 teaspoons of oil, which have about 85. Calories saved: 80

28. Ditch 1 piece of bread on your sandwiches; try an open-faced sandwich for a change, hot or cold. Calories saved: 80

29. Try a recipe for vegetable lasagna instead of the traditional meat lasagna. Calories saved: 50 per serving

30. Enjoy ¾ cup steamed brown rice as a healthy alternative to the same amount of oily, fried rice. Calories saved: 50

31. If you must have French fries, have 4 ounces of steak fries (they absorb less oil) instead of shoestring fries. Here are more healthy alternatives to your favorite junk foodsCalories saved: 50


Easy Tweaks: Lunch and Dinner

32. Buy tuna packed in water instead of oil. A 3-ounce serving of chunk white tuna in oil has 160 calories, while tuna packed in water has about 110. Calories saved: 50

33. Serving chicken? Swap a chicken breast with skin for a roasted, skinless chicken breast. You can use it make one of these heart healthy meals cardiologists recommend. Calories saved: 50


Easy Tweaks: Desserts

34. Serve ice cream in a dish instead of a waffle cone. Calories saved: 50

35. Choose a serving of canned fruit packed in natural fruit juice instead of heavy syrup. Calories saved: 60

36. When baking, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of sweetened applesauce, use unsweetened instead. Calories saved: 50

37. Choose a serving of pudding made with 2% milk instead of whole milk. Calories saved: 50

38. Like strawberries? Instead of a cup of strawberry ice cream, try a Yoplait Strawberry Whip. While you’re at it, check out these other healthy dessert ideas that’ll help you lose weightCalories saved: 100


Easy Tweaks: Desserts

39. Have a Fudgsicle instead of a small cup of Fudge Swirl ice cream. Calories saved: 60

40. Top angel food cake with fruit instead of 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup. Calories saved: 100

41. Pie? Have a slice of apple lattice instead of a serving of apple crumb. Calories saved: 70

42. Hold the ice cream on the pie à la mode; opt for a plain piece of fruit pie instead. Calories saved: 75–100

43. Enjoy the birthday cake—just scrape off the icing. You should be eating some sort of dessert every day –– here’s whyCalories saved: at least 100


Easy Tweaks: Desserts

44. Trade ½ cup of vanilla ice cream for ½ cup of vanilla “light” ice cream. Calories saved: 50

45. Instead of a cup of eggnog, have hot apple cider—don’t forget the cinnamon stick. Calories saved: 100

46. Enjoy a large piece of fresh, juicy fruit instead of a small fruit Slushie. Calories saved: 100

47. Have an iced cupcake instead of a slice of frosted cake. Calories saved: 100

48. Share your serving of chocolate cake and buttercream icing with someone special. Calories saved: 115

49. Enjoy a serving of Jell-O –– but hold the Cool Whip. Don’t miss these other low-sugar dessert ideasCalories saved: 50


Easy Tweaks: Drinks

50. Lighten your coffee with evaporated nonfat milk instead of 2 tablespoons of French vanilla, nondairy creamer. Calories saved: 55

51. Drink a 12-ounce diet soda instead of regular soda. Calories saved: more than 100

52. Have a cup of skim milk instead of a cup of whole milk. Calories saved: 65

53. Dilute your fruit juice. Fill an 8-ounce glass with 4 ounces of juice and 4 ounces of water instead of all juice. Calories saved: 50

54. Opt for a spiked seltzer instead of a beer. And while you’re at it, try these tips for cutting back on alcohol. Calories saved: 50


Easy Tweaks: Drinks

55. In the mood for hot chocolate? Add a sugar-free packet to your 2% milk, rather than sugar. Calories saved: 60

56. Hold the whipped cream on any coffee or beverage. Calories saved: 50

57. Smoothies? Make your own: Blend 1 cup of skim milk, ½ cup of strawberries, and ½ of a medium frozen banana, rather than buying a commercial milk shake. Calories saved: 100

58. Tried soymilk? Replace 1 cup of whole milk with 1 cup of vanilla soymilk. Calories saved: 50

59. Make your own root beer float instead of buying one at the ice cream parlor. Pour a can of diet root beer over a scoop of vanilla ice cream-don’t forget the straw. Here’s the best brands of root beer to use for it. Calories saved: 100


Easy Tweaks: Drinks

60. Instead of fruit juice, have a V-8. Calories saved: 60

61. Choose light beer over dark beer. Calories saved: 50

62. Enjoy a cup of black tea without the sugar—better yet, try green tea, hot or cold. Calories saved: 15 per teaspoon of sugar

63. Swap a small chocolate milkshake for an 8-ounce carton of chocolate milk. Calories saved: 75

64. Try a packet of strawberry Carnation Instant Breakfast made with 2% milk instead of whole milk. This, along with these tips to lose weight, will help you see a difference in your body. Calories saved: 65


Easy Tweaks: Dining Out

65. Select an appetizer as your main entrée. Calories saved: usually more than 100

66. Pass on the breadsticks and garlic bread. Calories saved: 100–140

67. Choose either 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese or 2 packets of croutons on your salad—not both. Calories saved: 45–95

68. Pasta anyone? Choose 1 cup of marinara sauce instead of ½ cup of Alfredo. Calories saved: 50

69. Hold the tartar sauce on your fish sandwich. Don’t miss these other ways to cut calories when dining outCalories saved: 60


Easy Tweaks: Dining Out

70. Hold the cheese on your fast-food hamburger. Calories saved: 40

71. Reduce the size of your steak from a 4 ½-ounce portion to a 3 ounce-portion. Calories saved: 100

72. Order two small slices of cheese pizza instead of 2 slices of cheese pizza with pepperoni. Calories saved: 50

73. Go for grill marks. Choose a grilled chicken sandwich over one that’s breaded and fried. Calories saved: 80–100

74. Skip the evening nightcap. Have hot tea instead of brandy or a dessert wine. Calories saved: 75–125

75. Ordering stir-fry for dinner? Choose scallops, chicken, or shrimp, instead of beef. It’s a good trick to stay healthy while eating outCalories saved: 50–75


Easy Tweaks: Snacks

76. Splurge on 2 ounces of baked potato chips instead of 2 ounces of regular chips. Calories saved: 50

77. Pass on the large brownie, go for the smaller one. Calories saved: 100

78. Instead of an iced chocolate cupcake, try 2 fig bars. Calories saved: 75

79. Trade a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a sliced apple dipped in a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. Calories saved: 50

80. Spread low-fat cream cheese on your crackers instead of 2 tablespoons of the full-fat version. Want more low-calorie snack ideas that’ll satisfy your cravings? Here are some that’ll help you get your fix of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamyCalories saved: 50


Easy Tweaks: Snacks

81. Need a dip for vegetables? Try a “light” Ranch dressing instead of 2 tablespoons of regular dressing. Calories saved: 70

82. Munch on a cup of frozen grapes instead of an ice cream sandwich. Calories saved: 100

83. Replace 1 ounce of peanuts for ½ ounce of peanuts mixed with 1 tablespoon of sweet raisins for your own trail mix. Calories saved: 50

84. Have a small pear with 1 ounce of string cheese instead of just one large pear. Calories saved: 50

85. Trade a Snickers fun-size bar for 2 bite-size ones, or better yet, split your candy bar with a friend. Don’t miss these other healthy snack ideas that’ll help you lose weight. Calories saved: 50

iStock/Robert Ingelhart

Easy Tweaks: Snacks

86. For nachos, shred 2 ounces of low-fat cheddar instead of 2 ounces of light cheddar. Calories saved: 50

87. In between meals, choose a petite banana over a larger one. Calories saved: 55

88. Instead of a Pop-Tart, enjoy a whole-wheat English muffin with 1 tablespoon of sugar-free jam. Calories saved: 60

89. Replace 2 ounces of Fritos corn chips with 2 ounces of whole-wheat crackers. Calories saved: 70

90. Want chocolate? Trade a traditional package of plain M&M’s for a snack-size cup of chocolate pudding. It’s also a great healthy snack idea for workCalories saved: 100


Easy Tweaks: Holidays and Outings

91. Have your cheese appetizers on Wheat Thin crackers rather than slices of baguette. Calories save: 25 per slice

92. Trade a cup of baked beans with brown sugar and bacon for a cup of vegetarian baked beans. Calories saved: 60

93. Eliminate the gravy on the mashed potatoes. Calories saved: about 50 per ¼ cup

94. Have ¼ cup less bread stuffing. Calories saved: 90

95. Eat one hot dog at the baseball game instead of two. Calories saved: about 250


Easy Tweaks: Holidays and Outings

96. Swap a regular hot dog for a fat-free frank on a bun. Calories saved: 125

97. Eat corn-on-the-cob as is, instead of coating with butter (2 teaspoons). Calories saved: 66

98. Instead of 4 ounces of sweet potato casserole, choose a baked medium sweet potato. Calories saved: 70

99. Instead of dark turkey meat (1 drumstick), choose white turkey meat without the skin (about 3 ounces). Calories saved: 55

100. Choose a piece of pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie. That, combined with these other tips, will help you have the healthiest holiday everCalories saved: more than 100

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest