8 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day
There's a lot of different circumstances that can cause the number you see on the scale to fluctuate on a daily basis. If you hit it hard in the gym, if you're retaining water, if you had ate more sodium than normal, etc. It's completely normal, so don't freak out if you step in the scale one morning, and then the next you're up 4 pounds. Did you eat 14,000 calories? No? Okay then, it's not fat, it's likely water weight—again, normal.
If you are trying to lose weight, and are SMART and want to do it in a healthy, sustainable way, being in a calorie deficit is a must. Your body needs to burn more calories than you consume.
1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is generally the standard, healthy goal to aim for. A solid strategy to meet that weekly goal is to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories each day.
Once you know how many calories you should be consuming daily in order to maintain your weight, you just cut that number by 500. You can find online calculators that can give you a good estimate, but don't believe the first number you come up with from one site. Try out a few different ones to compare and make sure they're relatively close *that way you don't run into the issue of accidentally coming across a BS site and believe some number that they give you that's completely off...preventative measures*.
So, here are some strategies to help with cutting those calories each day:
Crowd out some heavy carbs with lighter options
If you’re a pasta lover and NEED your fix, try cutting your portion in half and replace that with zucchini noodles instead. With this hack, you can save so many calories and eat more for less! Same thing can be done with rice…replace half of your typical serving of rice with cauliflower rice. It’s little hacks like these that add up daily & overtime.
Know your cup of Joe
If a flavored latte is your go-to coffee shop order, you could easily be looking at 300-500 calories, plus TONS of sugar. Or if your coffee looks like it could use some coffee with the cream, that’s packing on a lot of calories, too. If you can’t stomach black coffee, try adding a little bit of unsweetened plant/nut milk, some cinnamon, cutting it to 1-2 tbsp creamer, or flavor with cinnamon or nutmeg, etc. I don’t even recommend the ‘zero calorie, zero sugar’ syrups…those are almost always full of chemicals, artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, etc. and will cause you to crave more sugar and other poor food choices.
Add one low calorie meal daily
Veggie bowls, veggie stir fries, salads, or even the bowls you can get delivered, like Splendid Spoon, can be super filling meals, packed with nutrients and fiber. Take lunch, for example; if you have a big garden salad, with lots of chopped veggies and other healthy, low-cal toppings, instead of the thick deli-style sandwich and bag of chips, you’ll more than likely be eating less than half the amount of calories *as long as you’re not going heavy on any cheese, fried proteins, fatty dressings, etc.* If you’re not big into salads, try a veggie stir fry with lots of roasted veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, even some sweet potatoes, etc. over a base of brown rice or quinoa, OR if you want to save even more calories, try cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles, or mix of all of them. I don’t want to come across as the calorie cutting monster, but if you’re working at a desk, or not super active during the day, we don’t NEED a heavy, high calorie lunch. Most people crash around 2:00pm, and a lot of times it’s because of what they ate for lunch. If you eat healthy foods that give you more natural energy, and keep you feeling light, instead of high-calorie, less nutritious foods that are heavy and weight you down, you’ll be less inclined to hit that mid-afternoon wall.
Swap your snack
Snacking is totally normal, the key is to have a snack healthy for when that 10/11am or 2/3pm hunger strikes. Instead of hitting up the closest vending machine or convenient store for a bag of chips, pretzels, or honey roasted peanuts, have an apple with 1 tbsp nut butter or PB fit, or a low-fat string cheese with 10-12 olives, etc. Replacing processed, high-calorie snacks twice a day with low-cal, more nutritious snacks can totally save you 500 calories a day if this is what your normal looks like. For other healthy snack options you can make to have for the week, check out these 5 healthy & easy snack recipes.
Go for grilled instead of fried
Especially when eating out, avoiding fried chicken, fish, etc. is definitely gonna help you cut back on some major calories & saturated fat. French fries*unfortunately*are a big calorie contributor when eating out, too. So, replace those with a side salad *dressing on the side or use vinegar instead to save even more cals*, or the veggie side option (just make sur they’re not drowning in butter or oil). But if you do want fries, make them yourself and you can save a ton of calories versus eating them at a restaurant. All you need is a potato and an air fryer. Cut the potato into fries, throw them in the basket, cook for 20 minutes on 400 degrees F, and you have yourself crispy ‘fries’ without being boiled in all the oil. Just add a little sea salt and maybe a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and you’re saving tons of calories with that swap.
Eat from a bowl or plate
When you snack straight from a box or bag, it’s incredibly easy to overeat without even noticing. Same goes for your meals...the calories still count if you're munching on everything while you're cooking. To control how much you consume, portion out your snacks and/or meals onto a bowl or plate to eat from. Being proactive with this can save ya big time!
Don't drink your calories
H2O > soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, etc. Drinking just 12 ounces of soda runs you around 150 calories, energy drinks range up to 200 calories, & same goes for sweetened tea. If you’re drinking a few of them a day, and replace them with water, or sparkling water & a fruit peel, unsweetened green tea with some mint or lime, etc. you’ll easily save yourself 500 calories give or take.
Opt for low-calorie options & substitutions
Especially when it comes to dressings, sauces, cream cheeses, yogurts, etc. For example, replace 2 tbsp of typical store-bought ranch dressing with a low-calorie ranch, or a vinaigrette. That can cut out 1/2 of the calories. Grab the lower-calorie sour cream, use hot sauce instead of the mayo-infused chipotle aioli, etc.
There's no quick fix when it comes to attaining and maintaining a healthy weight—it's all about getting strategic, developing healthy habits, being consistent, and ENJOYING your life & the process.