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100 Easy Ways to Cut 50 Calories

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 loss. Calories 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 breakfast. Calories 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. Here’s what else to eat at lunch…and what to avoid.  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 love. Calories 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 foods. Calories 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 weight. Calories 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 why. Calories 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 ideas. Calories 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 out. Calories 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 out. Calories 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 creamy. Calories 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 work. Calories 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. While you’re at it, try these other ideas to stay healthy for the holidays. 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 ever. Calories saved: more than 100

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Perri O. Blumberg
A former food editor at Reader's Digest, Perri Blumberg is a writer and editor based in New York City. After attending Columbia University, where she received a BA in psychology, she went on to study food at a health-supportive culinary school. Her work has appeared in O Magazine, Men's Journal, Country Living, and on Mind, Body, Green, among others.