7 Tiny Tweaks to Cut Calories All Year Long

Kevin Gray
by Kevin Gray
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7 Tiny Tweaks to Cut Calories All Year Long

“Cutting calories” is one of the more nefarious-sounding phrases in the English language, one that might conjure images of boring salads and induce hunger pangs. But the truth is, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce your calories without making grueling sacrifices — and the efforts can really add up.

In general, 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat, so if you reduce your calorie intake, you can drop some weight — to the tune of 10 pounds per year, if you cut just 100 calories per day.

Of course, everyone’s calorie needs are different, and vary by weight, age and activity level. So keep that in mind before diving in head-first. Below, we look at how seven little tweaks can have a significant impact over the course of a year.

The average soda contains about 140 empty calories — and a scary amount of sugar. So 140 calories, 365 days a year adds up to 51,100 calories or almost 15 pounds.

Exchange your daily afternoon soda for some refreshing sparkling water, and you’ll be doing yourself a serious favor.

The average American eats three hamburgers per week, which is a lot of burgers. And, more often than not, they’re of the fast-food rather than home-cooked variety. The one positive takeaway: There’s plenty of room to improve. Going bun-less once per week saves about 150 calories, which adds up to 7,800 calories a year — just over 2 pounds.

Drinking water can help curb your appetite and prevent overeating. In fact, one study found drinking two cups of water (16 ounces) before a meal resulted in a 13% reduction in calorie intake. If you typically eat a 600-calorie dinner, drinking water beforehand could save you 78 calories per day — or 28,470 calories per year.

No, cauliflower rice isn’t a direct substitute for the real thing. But when prepared properly, it’s pretty darn good. And considering it’s a non-starchy vegetable, cauliflower rice is a low-carb, low-calorie way to supplement that weekly stir-fry. You’ll save about 160 calories every time you make the swap or 8,320 annually.

That dash of sugar in your morning coffee might taste good, but every teaspoon adds about 16 calories. You can try using a no-calorie sweetener like Stevia or just opt for a good, rich coffee, and skip the sweetener entirely. Here we’ll assume one teaspoon of sugar, and two cups per day, which is the national average. When you do the math, that’s about 11,680 calories a year!

Condiments are a delicious way to spruce up just about anything. But not all condiments are created equal, so check that nutrition label before you start slathering. There are 90 calories in one tablespoon of mayonnaise, which makes zero-calorie mustard the clear champion for sandwiches, burgers and other condiment-friendly foods. Make that swap two times per week, which adds up to 9,360 calories per year and watch those calories drop.

When you’re hungry, it’s tempting to shovel food into your face. But chewing more slowly — and generally being mindful of your eating — allows the body to better realize when it’s full. This can translate to less overeating, and fewer calories consumed at each meal. One study showed that normal-weight individuals reduced their calorie intake by an average of 88 calories when eating slower, as compared to the fast-eating group. Multiply that by three meals per day, 365 days a year and … that’s a ton of calories (96,360 calories to be exact).


About the Author

Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray

Kevin is a Dallas-based writer who spends the majority of his weekends on a bike. His less healthy pursuits can be found at Bevvy and Cocktail Enthusiast.


13 responses to “7 Tiny Tweaks to Cut Calories All Year Long”

  1. Avatar Adesh says:

    Takeaway for Indians (or probably most people): 1. Drink water before meals 2. Chew slowly

  2. Er, black coffee means no milk, not no sugar!

  3. Avatar TychaBrahe says:

    If you absolutely have to have creamy salad dressings, try tzatziki—a Middle Eastern blend of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill—instead of ranch or similar dressing. Cedar’s brand is 35 calories per 2 tbsp/28 g serving, compared to 145 calories for the same sized portion of ranch. Or cut calories further and make it vegetarian by making your own with non-fat yogurt. It helps to put the yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth overnight to drain out some of the whey.

    • Avatar Krystina says:

      Love your name! I see you haven’t lost your nose in a duel, as the pugnacious astronomer Tycho Brahe did. Love tzatziki, Love yoghurt- and if you are using as a dressing, it is ok if not super thick! Always NONFat, and you can make at home if you would like. I use this idea every day- yoghurt as a toast and sandwich spread, yoghurt as the base for dip, etc.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    I liked your post so much. In this modern life as everybody is very busy in his life and they do not give proper timing to maintain their fitness. So your post really helps them to follow a healthy diet which is less in calories and doesn’t affect their body also. Thanks for sharing the post.

  5. Avatar Ro'Zaay Jones says:

    Hello Everyone… When I first downloaded My Fitness App I was skeptical, but now I love it because it keeps me countable for what I am eating and lets me know if my intake is to much and it has a lot of good information… I started at 250 lbs in March on the Egg diet and as of today with the help of the app I am down to 227 lbs…. I fell of the wagon in May, but I got right back up… I never knew how hard it was to eat healthy and to lose weight..

  6. Avatar Glenn Nelson says:

    Another “calories in, calories out” mantra
    which is over a hundred years old. Also show me the science based evidence that 3500 calories equals one pound. It is a made-up figure. Obesity is a hormonal problem not a calorie intake problem. The advice given in this article only works because it reduces sugar and carbs which spikes insulin. Not because of a calorie reduction strategy. Insulin is a fat fertilizer and too many carbs and sugar results in insulin resistance which drives chronic diseases with overweightness as a indicator.

    • Avatar Jason Smith says:

      Glenn you are spot on with your post. Calories in/calories out is a concept found in physics, and isn’t applicable to the human body. It’s all about managing insulin!

    • Avatar Robin says:

      It’s still calories in/calories out. Hormones may make someone feel hungrier (thus leading to them ingesting more calories) or slow someone’s metabolism (thus decreasing calories out) but ultimately you have to take calories in for your body to build fat.

      • Avatar Glenn Nelson says:

        A calorie is only a unit of measurement of the amount of energy in food. Calories in/calories out would apply if you are a steam engine. This 1st law of Thermodynamics does not apply to a biomechanical being, the endocrine system is too complex and there are several homones that trigger hunger, satiety and energy storage. Insulin either stores or feeds cells. With insulin resistance, mitochondria cells can no longer accept glucose and it is then stored as fat in the fat cells.

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