Want to lighten the calorie load? Try these simple swaps from nutritionist Shona Wilkinson for an instant reduction
What good is following an exercise routine if you’re fuelling your body with unnecessary calories? But instead of denying yourself snacks and slashing portion sizes to cut down your daily intake, simply adapt your menu to more nutritious meals and watch the calories dwindle. Try this daily plan and drop 620 calories in an instant… plus you get to indulge in a cheeky dessert.
Breakfast: Swap your cereal for scrambled egg and grilled tomato on toast (+105 cal)
This breakfast option will actually increase your calorie intake but stick with us, as this will work to your advantage as the day goes on. Most cereals contain approximately 125 calories per bowl, however this tasty alternative clocks in at an average of 230 calories, so why should you make the switch? The difference is that although cereals contain less calories, they are often filled with sugar which will undoubtedly result in an energy slump about an hour later. You will then crave more sugar and the unhealthy cycle begins. Scrambled eggs, on the other hand, are a great source of protein which will help to keep you fuller for longer. Plus, they will aid your quest in dodging those pesky mid-morning cravings, too.
Snack: Swap your biscuits for an oatcake and nut butter [-70 cal]
This food swap doesn’t create a huge dent in your daily calorie intake, but it will fuel you until lunch and keep you away from other tasty treats. The reason behind this switch is simple – skip the sugar. A couple of biscuits clock in at approximately 180 calories, whereas an oatcake with nut butter is around 110. This alternative will provide a steady release of energy to keep you on track until lunch. By including protein with every meal, you’ll avoid poor blood sugar balance which in turn promotes steady hormone levels. This includes the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone which help keep your menstrual cycle on an even keel, and ward off symptoms of PMS and the menopause. You’re less likely to become irritable or down in the dumps too, and your body and brain will find it easier to deal with stress. Bonus!
Lunch: Swap your supermarket meal deal for a baked sweet potato with a nutritious and delicious filling followed by fruit [-245 cal]
A classic jacket potato (including the skin) is rich in vitamin C, B6, potassium, manganese and dietary fibre. Alternatively, you could have a sweet potato jacket which contains all of the above but has a lower carbohydrate content and is higher in the vitamin A precursor – beta-carotene. Good filling options are cottage cheese, chickpeas, a bean chilli or grilled vegetables and tuna. Complete your meal with a side salad or a mix of dark leafy greens. This will tantalise your taste-buds as well as pack a nutritious punch. Opt for a coconut water, approximately 20 calories, to help boost energy levels and finish with a small punnet of blueberries (approx. 90 calories). In total, this fulfilling lunch racks up around 360 calories which is almost half of a supermarket meal deal which, on average, contains a staggering 605 – 365 calories for a sandwich, 100 calories in a bag of crisps and 140 calories in a coke.
Afternoon snack: Swap a muffin for half an avocado on two oatcakes [-190 cal]
An afternoon cuppa with a tasty muffin sounds like heaven, but when it adds 350 calories to your daily tally you may want to rethink your tea break treat. Instead try two oatcakes or crispbread loaded with creamy avocado, a drizzle of lemon juice and sprinkle of black pepper. Trust us, your health will thank you for it! Avocados provide a great source of mono unsaturated oleic acid and research has shown that this type of fat is beneficial for cardiovascular health. They are also a good source of antioxidants which protect your body’s cells against free radical damage and can benefit your eye health.
Dinner: Swap pasta for fish and vegetables and even treat yourself to a dessert [-220 cal]
Who doesn’t love ending the day with a carb-fuelled portion of creamy pasta? But when an average pasta dish contains 580 calories per portion, a simple switch to baked fish and a pile of vegetables is a much more appealing option. And at only 160 calories, your waistline will definitely agree. Oily fish, such as salmon, herring, anchovies, mackerel and sardines, are a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which contribute to the normal function of the heart. And with such a huge calorie saving, why not add a delicious dessert? Try making a chocolate, chia seed and coconut pudding. Simply mix chia seeds, coconut milk and a bit of cocoa powder in a jar and leave in the fridge overnight before consuming half the following evening. Top with some fresh fruit, honey and nuts (approx. 200 calories). Yum!