Living a healthier lifestyle doesn't always mean you need to make drastic changes. Sometimes a small tweak to your diet or activity routine can make all the difference, especially if it's a positive habit you can continue in the long-term.
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Case in point: A July 2019 study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology found that cutting just 300 calories from your daily diet could improve your heart health, even for people who are already at a healthy weight.
The two-year study determined that nixing just this modest amount of daily calories helped the participants lower their blood pressure and bad cholesterol and improve their C-reactive protein, which measures inflammation in the body.
The really good news? You can zap a few hundred calories with minimal effort by making just a few small changes to your daily eating habits. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
Simple Swaps to Cut 300 Calories
1. The Swap: Carrot chips or radish slices for tortilla chips
Calories Cut: 319
Carrot chips and radish slices have the same sturdiness for dipping as tortilla chips, but 3 ounces of carrot chips are going to set you back 35 calories, while only 2 1/2 ounces of tortilla chips (about 30 chips) is going to run you 354 calories. That may sound like a lot of chips, but when the salsa and guac are in abundance, it can be easy to lose count.
2. The Swap: Air-popped popcorn for the packaged version
Calories Cut: 299
Need a little flavoring on your air-popped snack? Choose an olive oil spray and only use what you need to make the salt stick.
3. The Swap: Seltzer for soda
Calories Cut: 300
You know that choosing water over any other beverage is going to save you calories, but you can carve out a full 300 by swapping just two cans of cola for two cans of flavored sparkling H2O. And bonus: You're keeping all of the added sugar out of your body.
4. The Swap: An iced latte with non-fat milk for a Frappuccino
Calories Cut: 300
If hitting Starbucks is a must in the morning, keep in mind that there are healthy alternatives to the ultra-sugary drinks on the menu (more sugar equals more calories). Swap out your grande-size Frappuccino, which weighs in at a whopping 400 calories, for the same size iced latte with non-fat milk, which is anywhere between 90 and 100 calories. You still get your caffeine boost without the sugar rush.
5. The Swap: Fresh fruit for candy
Calories Cut: 295
Are you a candy snacker? Then listen up: Just under a half cup of jelly beans is going to cost you 375 calories — and empty calories at that. A much better option to satisfy that sweet tooth would be to snack on raspberries instead. You get 1 and 1/4 cups of raspberries for just 80 calories, and it comes with 10 grams of filling fiber and no added sugar.
6. The Swap: Marinara sauce for Alfredo
Calories Cut: 300
Cutting calories from dinner can be hard, especially when you're eating away from home. But if you're eating pasta, choose a marinara sauce instead of Alfredo. One-half cup of Alfredo sauce can total about 400 calories, and let's be honest: You're probably having more than just a half cup, especially if you're out at a restaurant, where portion sizes tend to be double or triple the norm. The marinara is much lighter, at only around 100 calories for a full cup.
7. The Swap: Edamame for potato chips
Calories Cut: 320
Potato chips can be a mindless snack if you let them. Sometimes, they just satisfy that salty craving. If you need a healthier alternative, try edamame instead. Just 3 ounces of chips, which is the bag size you might find at a gas station, clocks in at around 450 calories. Instead of snacking on chips and being hungry again in an hour, try eating an entire cup of edamame for just 130 calories. As an added bonus, you'll also be eating 5 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein.
- The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: "2 years of calorie restriction and cardiometabolic risk (CALERIE): exploratory outcomes of a multicentre, phase 2, randomised controlled trial"
- USDA: "Potato Chips"
- USDA: "Carrot Chips"
- USDA: "Packaged Popcorn"
- USDA: "Air Popped Popcorn"
- PepsiCo: "The Facts About Your Favorite Beverages"
- Starbucks: "Frappuccino Blended Beverages"
- USDA: "Tortilla Chips"
- USDA: "Jelly Beans"
- USDA: "Raspberries"
- USDA: "Alfredo Sauce"
- USDA: "Marinara"
- USDA: "Edamame"