Cut Calories on Scales

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories for Weight Loss

By Tracey Walton, wlr

Using a mix of individual tactics that work for you to reduce calories, can have a big impact on your weight loss - and how easy it is to lose weight.

You just need to make sure you’re consistent, persistent, and honest with yourself, for significant results.

Having, or getting, a basic knowledge of how many calories in different types of foods will also be helpful.

We’ve worked out the calorie value for each of our 10 tactics, so you can immediately see how much difference any one of them could make to you.

The table below shows the approximate number of calories you need to cut on a daily basis to lose ¼ lb to 2lbs a week.

Daily Calorie Reduction Weekly Weight Loss
125  ¼ lb
250 ½ lb
500 1 lb
750 1½ lb
1000 2 lbs

Of course you don’t have to cut exactly the same number of calories every day. The point about trying to lose weight this way is that you can pick the tactics that will be easiest for you on the days and times that suit you.

How much difference each could make to you will depend on what your current habits are. Use the estimated calorie counts as a guide.

For an accurate count of exactly how many calories you could save using these, or tactics you think of yourself, take a free trial of the wlr tools.

Choose 1 or 2 tactics to get started and, once you’ve made the decisions, implement them – starting today. Use your chosen tactics every time the situation they were meant for occurs.

This will take self-discipline at first. But after a few weeks you should find you start doing them without thinking about it, or feeling like you’re missing out. Plus you should start to notice a very motivational difference on the scales!

Here’s the List:

1. Keep fast food in the freezer

This will work especially well if your busy life has you regularly picking up the phone for a pizza or curry delivery.

The vast majority of ready meals sold in supermarkets are smaller than an average takeaway.

Here’s some examples:

Food Type  Calories
Dr Oetkers Ristorante Prosciutto Pizza 752
Dominoes Thin Crust Ham and Pineapple Pizza, Medium 1064
Chicken Tikka Masala from Restaurant 680
Chicken Tikka Masala, Tesco 560

So whether your go to fast food is pizza or a curry, you could reduce the calories in each meal by 120-300!

2. Don’t butter bread when you’re making a sandwich

Most sandwiches have a main filling which has an adequate amount of fat: cheese, meat, eggs etc. Add a little salad, a few slices of tomato or some pickle and your sandwich doesn’t need to taste dry without extra fat.

Spreading butter, or maragarine, on 2 average slices of bread uses up around 100 - 150 calories depending on how thick you spread it. If you only eat 1 sandwich on 5 days a week that adds up to 500 - 750 calories.

Well worth the little time and creativity you’ll need to come up with your sandwich ideas and make them yourself. Using wholemeal bread will improve the taste, and texture, of your sandwich – with the bonus of additional fibre which will help to fill you up and keep you fuller for longer.

3. Eat 2 eggs for breakfast

This may seem a little counter-intuitive, especially if you tend to skip breakfast. But there’s something about breakfast eggs (other than just their protein content), which suppresses your need to eat as much through the rest of the day.

In this study, researchers found that people who had a breakfast including two eggs ate 417 fewer calories over the course of the next 36 hours.

According to dietitian Juliette Kellow, having two eggs for breakfast every day is enough on its own for a loss of 2lbs a month.

4. Eat half, save half

If you’re a chocolate lover (aren’t we all?) this one’s for you.

The best part of a chocolate bar is the first bite. You get the chocolate hit, the sweetness. The second bite is nearly as good, but each additional extra bite gives a little less pleasure than the first. (In economics, they call this the Theory of Diminished Marginal Utility.)

The idea behind this tactic, is to get the majority of the pleasure out of your favourite bar, satisfy the need for ‘something sweet’, but in half the calories.

You should try this at home, it does work.

All you need to do is cut your bar in half, put the half you’re not going to eat away, then sit down and enjoy the remaining half – slowly. Try taking smaller bites so your half-bar takes as long to eat as the whole one would.

With a bit of perseverance you’ll find that you don’t really need (or even want) a whole bar. Or cake, or dessert – this principle works particularly well with sweet things that you tend to eat as ‘extras’ to your normal meals.

The average regular-sized chocolate bar has 200-250 calories. If you generally tend to eat 1 a day, you’ll save around 120 calories a day. If you eat 2 or more bars a day this one tactic, used every time, will be enough to lose half a pound a week or more.

5. Measure alcohol

Alcohol is the next most calorie-dense ‘food’ after fat. The problem is that most of us don’t really consider ‘drinks’ as ‘food’. But the calories in a vodka and coke, or glass of wine, count just as much as the ones in a donut.

This tactic will be particularly effective for people who drink alcohol at home. (In theory it’s easier at the pub – drinks are carefully portion controlled.)

It’s actually quite difficult to measure the amount of liquid in a glass by eye alone. The shape and size of the glass can alter perception. A genteel slosh of Pinot in the bottom of a large balloon glass looks like a very small amount.

Using a measure, so you can pour a single shot (25ml) of spirit, or a small glass (125ml) of wine could save an average of 50 - 100 calories a drink.

Even if you think you’re sticking to what looks like a reasonably healthy 2 drinks a day – you could save 100 - 200 calories a day. If you often drink more than that, the extra calories add up pretty quickly.

6. Eat whole fruit rather than drinking juice

A glass of fruit juice goes down very quickly and does very little to satisfy hunger. Worse, a resulting sugar spike can make you hungry.

Eating whole fruit instead gives you the satisfaction of eating something and, largely because of the fibre content in the fruit, will take longer to digest. That’s all on top of the health benefits of eating whole, unprocessed fruit with nothing added.

You’ll also reduce the number of calories you consume. Here’s some calorie counts of an average serving of whole fruit compared to a 200ml glass of pure  juice:

  Fruit kcals  Juice kcals
Orange 54  88
Apple  60  90
Pineapple (80g of fruit)  34  100

That’s an average of around 40 calories difference in a serving. 280 calories saved over the course of a week if you make this substitution every day, even more than that if you drink juices sweetened with sugar.

7. Get a reality check from time to time

Ok, so you may not want to calorie count every morsel that passes your lips, but checking calories for a meal, or a whole day, now and then will keep you in touch with reality.

We humans are really good at underestimating the amount of calories we eat, and really bad at eating just enough to cover our needs.

If you don’t know what your daily calorie needs are here’s some guidance. (You can take a free trial of the WLR tools to get an accurate figure.)

Having this knowledge at the back of your mind and checking it against your actual consumption from time to time will help you to achieve a better balance.

The possible reduction in calories from paying attention to how many you’re eating as opposed to how many you actually need is potentially very large. Your outcome will depend on how willing you are to not eat more than you need.

8. Don’t skip meals

Another tactic that may sound somewhat counter-intuitive, but skipping meals can easily lead to consuming more calories.

Here’s one scenario to illustrate how this works:

You miss lunch, which would possibly have amounted to around 500 calories.

You’re Hungry in the afternoon so you have a quick and convenient snack – maybe a muffin because you need something that’s going to give you quick energy.

The muffin sets you up for a sugar rush and the resultant drop in blood sugar levels that makes you even more hungry.

You can’t last until dinner so you have another snack – lets say a bag of crisps this time.

By the time you get home from work, you’re ravenous because you ‘haven’t really eaten anything proper’ all day. You eat dinner early and wolf it down.

Because you ate dinner early, you find yourself grazing on late-night snacks.

Total calories:

Muffin  450
Crisps  169
Extra dinner 200
Late night snacks  300
Total  1119

That’s a whopping 619 calories more than having a decent lunch would have been. Almost enough for a 1lb a week loss, all on its own.

9. Downsize your coffee

As a nation we drink 5 times as much coffee as we did 20 years ago – much of it from outlets like Starbucks and Costa. In itself, there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee as far as your weight is concerned – in fact coffee has very few calories.

So you don’t have to give up coffee, just give some thought to the size of the cup you drink and how you have it.

Here’s some calorie counts to get you started:

All from Costa to keep it simple, counts from other shops are similar.

Americano, black, medio 6
Americano, skimmed milk, medio 18
Americano, full fat milk, medio  27
Americano, full fat milk, massimo 38
Cappuccino skimmed milk, medio 94
Caramel Latte, skimmed milk, medio  152
Latte,  full fat milk, medio  201
Cappuccino,  full fat milk, massimo  204
Caramel Latte,  full fat milk, medio  239
Caramel Latte, full fat milk, massimo  310

And don’t forget, each teaspoon of sugar adds 20 calories!

It’s easy to see how you could reduce calories, by quite a lot if you’re a big coffee drinker, just by changing the type and size.

10. Weigh the oily and the dry

Weighing and measuring can become a bit of a chore when you’re watching the calories – so just stick with the essentials:

Things that have lots of calories packed into small amounts of food. For example:

Fats and oils have 9 calories per gram – more than twice as many as protein and carbohydrate. A simple set of measuring spoons is the quickest way to measure these.

Dried foods are calorie dense because the water content has been taken out of them. So what looks like a small portion has a high number of calories.

Grapes and raisins (dried grapes) illustrate this point perfectly.

15g of grapes has 10 calories

15g of raisins has 43 calories

Other dried foods worth weighing are pasta and rice. It’s easy to cook more than you need, because it’s hard to visualize what size the portion will be after it is cooked and swelled with water.

The problem here is that when we cook too much, we’ll very likely eat too much because we don’t like to waste food.

So what happens if you overestimate the amount you need to cook by a fairly conservative 30%?

We’ll use reasonably sized portions to work this out. So for pasta, which often makes up the bulk of a meal, the portion is larger.

Pasta 90g (dry weight)  317
Pasta 90g + 30% = 117g 412
Rice 75g (dry weight) 240
Rice 75g + 30% = 97g 310

As you can see, it's easy to get nearly 100 extra calories without really thinking about it.

In Conclusion

The most important points about all of the above:

  • Easy to implement
  • Won't leave you feeling deprived
  • Easy to live with, and therefore maintainable
  • Effective for weight loss
  • No diet necessary!

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