Articles » Nutrition » Healthy Eating Tips » 25 Food Substitutions To Cut Calories & Get Lean

25 Food Substitutions To Cut Calories & Get Lean

By Marc Perry / July 20, 2018

If you are striving to get leaner, cutting calories out of your diet can certainly help. But sometimes it can seem like cutting out those extra few calories can become really tough without making you very hungry.

Cutting calories can be made easier, especially if you use some of the food substitution suggestions we compiled from our contributing experts.

Simple food substitutions can cut your calorie intake substantially depending on the foods you are currently eating.

Check out the list below for 25 ideas to consider:

  1. Greek yogurt vs. Sour cream
  2. Mustard vs. Mayo
  3. Lettuce leaf vs. Bread
  4. Mashed root veggies vs. Mashed potatoes
  5. Nut butters vs. Cream cheese
  6. Pureed fruit vs. Maple syrup
  7. Whole orange vs. Orange juice
  8. Frozen banana vs. Ice cream
  9. Coconut oil vs. Butter
  10. Chia seeds vs. Eggs (1tbsp chia with 1 cup of water = 1 egg)
  11. White meat chicken vs. Dark meat chicken
  12. Bison vs. Beef
  13. Ground turkey vs. ground beef
  14. Soda water vs. Tonic water
  15. Steamed broccoli vs. Pan-fried broccoli
  16. Wheat wrap vs. Bread
  17. Cocao Nibs vs. Chocolate chips
  18. Almond flour vs. White, or wheat flour
  19. Strawberries vs. Cake
  20. Nutritional yeast vs. Cheese
  21. 70%+ Dark chocolate vs. Milk chocolate
  22. Cauliflower rice vs. White rice
  23. Veggie sushi vs. Fried Fish
  24. Iced green tea vs. Fruit juice
  25. Apple sauce vs. Butter in baking recipes

Hope you enjoy trying some of the options on this list – let us know how it goes if you make any of these substitutions…or if you find your own.


  • Carol says:

    Lots of great ideas until I got to the egg vs. chia seeds. I don't think you will cut many calories there (10-15), they both have about 4g of fat, and eggs have double the protein. They are both great to include in a healthy diet, I wouldn't make a substitution for either one.

  • Anthony says:

    Just a few suggestions from my own battle so far:

    corn tortillas vs. flour tortillas
    oat flour (blended oatmeal for me) vs. white flour
    egg whites vs. whole eggs
    yellow squash shredded and sauted vs. pasta
    tvp vs. ground beef
    popcorn vs. chips
    zesty italian dressing vs. high calorie marinade
    zesty italian dressing vs. ranch, blue cheese, etc.
    iced coffee vs. soda

    Although I do question the nut butter vs cream cheese. Nut butter is so calorie dense it sometimes makes my diet really sad and sometimes is great just to get me up to my calorie goal.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Thanks for sharing, Anthony.

  • Tommy says:

    WARNING TO ANYONE TRYING TO LOSE ACTUAL WEIGHT: While about half of these including using greek yogurt in place of sour cream are very valid suggestions, most of these suggestions are lazy and/or incorrect claims. This article appears to be tidbits heard in gym locker room and not based in fact or reality.

    1. Mustard is not a substitution for mayo, there's no similarity other than they both go on sandwiches.
    2. While it's true that Skinless Dark Chicken has a bit more calories and fat than white meat, but it also has way more vitamins, fills you up more and it has ..... more flavor.
    3. Nut butters are straight up dense calories, not sure how they are a substitute for anything if you are cutting calories. Most people use nut butters to bulk.
    4. Almond flour has more calories per gram than white or wheat flour and works very differently in recipes.
    5. Veggie Sushi is a pile of white rice and carbs, wouldn't sashimi or baked fish be a far better substitute for fried fish? Did anyone check this?
    6. Wheat wrap vs. Bread: wheat wraps found in my grocery store usually have more calories, more carbs, less fibre and less nutrients than the whole wheat breads on a per gram basis, is there something wrong with getting a nice whole wheat and seed bread? Did anyone look at more than one loaf of bread before making this claim?

  • A says:

    Strawberries vs. Cake

    "I'm craving cake. But strawberries are just as good!"
    -no one, ever