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Food Substitutions

15 Easy Food Substitutions for Big-Time Calorie Savings

By Jude Buglewicz
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

Changing your eating habits is sort of like falling in love. Some things you don't much like, but you can live with—knuckle-cracking, a nose ring—while others are just deal breakers, like snoring or preferring Everwood to 24. Rest assured. These simple food substitutions are pain free and hardly noticeable. You won't believe how easy it is to shave calories from your everyday dietand you'll absolutely love the results.

All you have to do is eat fewer calories than you burn and you'll lose weight. (We're not even talking about exercising here. Just cutting down on calories!) It's a simple matter of mathematics. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. To lose a pound a week, you have to consume 500 fewer calories a day. Here are a few simple food substitutions that you can incorporate into each meal that not only add up to big calorie savings at the end of the week, but improve your overall health, too.


2 Tbsp. half and half = 40 calories
2 Tbsp. skim milk = 11 calories
Calories saved: 29

If you can't bear the shock of going straight from half and half to skim milk, you can ease your way by reducing the fat content gradually: 2 Tbsp. whole milk is 19 calories and 2 Tbsp. of 2% is 16 calories. Once you get used to drinking skim milk, though, whole milk and even 2% will seem unbearably "thick."

1 cup whole milk = 150 calories
1 cup skim milk = 90 calories
Calories saved: 60

2 eggs = 150 calories
4 egg whites = 60 calories
Calories saved: 90

You'll want to double up on the egg whites. (This goes for baking, too. In recipes, replace whole eggs with twice as many egg whites.)

BreakfastToast or bagel
1 Tbsp. butter = 100 calories
1 Tbsp. fat-free cream cheese = 30 calories
Calories saved: 70

1 croissant = 320 calories
1 slice whole wheat bread = 70 calories
Calories saved: 250

This one's a no-brainer. Go ahead. Smear your toast with fat-free cream cheese!


1 Tbsp. mayonnaise = 100 calories
1 Tbsp. mustard = 15 calories
Calories saved: 85

1 oz. cheddar cheese = 120 calories
1 oz. fat-free cheddar cheese = 45 calories
Calories saved: 75

1 Tbsp. ranch-style or 1000 Island dressing = 80 calories
1 Tbsp. blue cheese = 60 calories
1 Tbsp. fat-free ranch dressing = 16 calories
1 Tbsp. fat-free Italian dressing = 14 calories
1 Tbsp. lemon juice = 4 calories
Calories saved: up to 78

Try sprinkling lemon juice on your salad instead of drowning it in fattening creamy dressings, and save 78 calories per tablespoon. Or at least opt for fat-free Italian and save 66 calories per tablespoon. If you can't live without that crumbling of blue cheese, try cutting the portion in half.


DinnerLasagna / Casseroles
1 cup ricotta cheese = 430 calories
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese = 340 calories
1 cup 2% cottage cheese = 202 calories
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese = 160 calories
Calories saved: up to 270

Substituting fat-free cottage cheese for whole ricotta cheese saves you 270 calories per cup. Try replacing half the cheese in casseroles with fat-free cottage cheese as well.

Hamburger dishes
3 oz. 80% lean ground beef, broiled = 235 calories
3 oz. ground turkey breast, broiled = 100 calories
Calories saved: 135

Though ground turkey breast isn't as tasty as hamburgers, it's a great substitute in sloppy joes, chili, and sure, even lasagna.

1 cup cooked pasta = 189 calories
1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta = 173 calories
Calories saved: 16

You'll get almost three times as much dietary fiber with whole wheat pasta (which will make you feel fuller with less) and save calories per cup to boot.

Baked potato
1 Tbsp. sour cream = 26 calories
1 Tbsp. reduced fat sour cream = 20 calories
1 Tbsp. plain, nonfat yogurt = 9 calories
Calories saved: up to 17

Topping your spud with a tablespoon of yogurt instead of sour cream saves you 17 calories.

DinnerSauteed veggies
2 Tbsp. corn oil = 240 calories
2 Tbsp. canola oil = 240 calories
2 Tbsp. butter = 200 calories
2 Tbsp. vegetable broth = 35 calories (approx.)
Calories saved: up to 200

Steaming is best, but if you must sauté your veggies, do it in a little vegetable broth or even a bit of fruit juice.

If you're crazy about baked goodscake, muffins, brownies, cookiessorry, you really should cut back. When you do prepare them on those few occasions, do yourself a favor and cut out half the fat (butter, oil, shortening) and substitute the other half with unsweetened applesauce or yogurtneither one alters the flavor much and saves loads of calories. And cut one third to one half of the sugar, sprucing up the dish instead with spices and flavorings (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, or nutmeg, or vanilla or almond extract). Chocolate cakes or brownies can handle the flavor of pureed prunes or mashed bananas. But all of these substitutions are a little tricky, and you'll need to experiment with different ones to achieve the texture and taste you like.

Dessert1/2 cup (1 stick) butter = 800 calories
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt = 70 calories
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce = 52 calories
Calories saved: up to 374

If your recipe calls for half a cup of butter, use a quarter cup instead along with a quarter cup of yogurt or applesauce, and save 365 or 374 calories, respectively.

If it's ice cream you can't live without, think twice before reaching for the nonfat frozen yogurt instead. You might not be saving that many calories. If you can hold yourself to just half a cup, it's not so bad. But check out the labels on ice cream bars, too. You've got built-in portion control with those. Here's a little rundown:

Dessert1/2 cup ice cream, vanilla = 135 calories
1/2 cup nonfat frozen yogurt (Ben & Jerry's) = 120 calories
1/2 cup nonfat frozen yogurt (Stonyfield Farm) = 100 calories
1/2 cup nonfat frozen yogurt (Haagen-Dazs) = 100 calories
1/2 cup sugar-free vanilla ice cream (Breyers) = 80 calories
1 bar - raspberry sorbet and vanilla yogurt (Haagen-Dazs) = 90 calories
1 bar - vanilla ice cream with fudge coating (Healthy Choice) = 80 calories
Calories saved: up to 55

Once you get used to making healthy substitutions, you'll see what a cinch it is to do. And we're not even talking about exercising! Throw that in, and you'll burn calories faster and develop muscle that'll increase your metabolism, so you'll burn even more calories by doing less. But it's all about the calories. The fewer you consume, the more stored body fat you'll burn.

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