If you're trying to lose weight, you've probably been told to "eat less," but it can be hard to know what exactly that looks like. To make it easier, we've got tips on how to cut 500 calories a day from your diet to help you reach weight-loss success.
So, why 500 calories? Keep in mind that, in order to lose a pound of fat, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories. To achieve this, you can bump up your exercise (i.e. expend more energy), eat a bit less (i.e. take in less energy) or do a combination of both.
If you can figure out how to cut 500 calories a day from your diet, you will create a deficit of 3,500 over the course of seven days, which should lead to a 1-pound weight loss per week. This pace is considered by experts to be both safe and sustainable, per the Mayo Clinic.
Another plus to the 500-calorie number: It's an approachable amount to cut from your diet each day without leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. Below are some easy swaps to get you started.
5 Simple Ways to Cut 500 Calories Per Day
1. The swap: Carbonated and flavored water for sugary beverages
Calories cut: 508
Instead, try a glass of water with orange slices for added flavor in the a.m. and unsweetened flavored carbonated water in the afternoon.
2. The swap: Buffalo-seasoned chicken breast for buffalo chicken wings
Calories cut: 547
A serving of eight chicken wings can have upwards of 800 calories (whoa).
Instead, get the same buffalo flavor without all of the calories by baking or grilling a 6-ounce chicken breast lightly brushed with a traditional hot sauce. You'll also drastically cut the saturated fat that comes from the skin of the chicken wing and the frying process.
3. The swap: Cook at home versus dining out or ordering in
Calories cut: Up to 582 (across all three meals)
A study published July 2014 in Public Health Nutrition found that when people cooked at home versus going out to eat, they consumed almost 200 calories less at each meal (along with less saturated fat and sodium).
If you typically grab breakfast on-the-go, sneak a quick lunch with coworkers near your office and/or grab dinner on the way home, you could be eating more calories than you think.
Instead, take some time to plan your meals in advance for the week, and give yourself the extra time in the morning to prep — that might mean setting the alarm a few minutes earlier, but hey, it's worth it!
Read more: 5 Tricks to Help You Estimate Calorie Counts
4. The swap: Top sirloin filet for a 16-ounce ribeye steak
Calories cut: More than 600
When dining out or even selecting meat at the deli, keep in mind that there are cuts of steak that are naturally fattier and typically come in larger servings.
A ribeye steak is the perfect example. You can find a 16-ounce ribeye on most steakhouse menus, and this hunk of meat alone can top 1,000 calories.
5. The swap: A broth-based soup appetizer for the bread basket
Calories cut: Up to 827
Ask for a broth-based soup instead (e.g. vegetable or miso, etc.). Two cups of vegetable soup has just 167 calories.
Figuring out how to cut 500 calories a day from your diet doesn't have to be challenging, and you don't have to feel deprived. Making easy swaps consistently each day and being active will give you the best results.
- FoodData Central:"Beverages, Orange Juice Drink"
- Coca-Cola:"Coca-Cola, Original - 20 Fluid Ounces"
- FoodData Central:"Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Wing, Meat and Skin, Cooked, Fried, Flour"
- FoodData Central:"Chicken, Broiler or Fryers, Breast, Skinless, Boneless, Meat Only, Cooked, Grilled"
- Public Health Nutrition:"The Impact of Restaurant Consumption Among US Adults: Effects on Energy and Nutrient Intakes"
- Ruth and Chris Steakhouse:"Ribeye"
- FoodData Central:"Beef, Ribeye Cap Steak, Boneless, Separable Lean Only, Trimmed to 0" Fat, Choice, Cooked, Grilled"
- FoodData Central:"Beef, Top Sirloin, Steak, Separable Lean and Fat, Trimmed to 0" Fat, Choice, Cooked, Broiled"
- FoodData Central:"Bread, French or Vienna (Includes Sourdough)"
- FoodData Central:"Oil, Olive, Salad or Cooking"
- FoodData Central:"Soup, Vegetable Soup, Condensed, Low Sodium, Prepared With Equal Volume Water"
- Mayo Clinic: "Why do doctors recommend a slow rate of weight loss? What's wrong with fast weight loss?"