Keeping track of your calories is crucial to weight loss. Losing weight is all about taking in fewer calories than you burn.
Unfortunately, there are lots of delicious foods that are high in calories. Regularly eating high-carb or high-calorie foods like pasta will prevent you from losing weight and keeping it off.
So how can you make do without these items? One of the best options is to sub out unhealthy ingredients with healthier ones.
Here are some great substitutes for high-carb, high-calorie foods.
Whole-grain pasta for white pasta
A simple change you can make when you want to eat pasta is to choose whole-grain pastas over regular pastas. This is because whole grains are complex carbs, which take more work for your stomach to digest, so they keep you full longer.
That said, even whole-grain pasta can be high in the carbs and calories. So while eating whole-grain pasta once in a while is fine, you don’t want to make a regular habit of it.
Veggies for pasta or rice
If you’d like to cut out pasta altogether, simply sub it out for healthier options, like using vegetables in place of noodles.
Veggies are a wonderful “blank canvas” that allow the flavor of the sauces and proteins to shine. They contain many of the nutrients that are part of a healthy diet, and they contain far fewer calories and carbs.
Shred or julienne zucchini or summer squash, and you can create pasta-like ribbons. (You can also buy a special gadget called a spiralizer to make veggie “noodles.”) Try “ricing” cauliflower to sub out rice for finely chopped cauliflower. Green beans go great with pesto sauce, and eggplant strips taste delicious with marinara.
Greek yogurt for sour cream
Greek yogurt is a fantastic protein-packed snack. But you can also use it in place of sour cream.
Greek yogurt is naturally sour, like sour cream. If you’re making a dessert recipe that calls for sour cream, you can make a 1-for-1 substitution to give your dessert a protein boost and cut saturated fat.
Or squeeze a lemon into a small container of Greek yogurt to make a great condiment for tacos. Just make sure you select plain Greek yogurt, without added fruit or sugar.
Ground turkey for ground beef
Not all proteins are created equal. Go for lean proteins, including skinless chicken breast, salmon and turkey, rather than high-fat meats like beef.
Turkey is a fantastic substitute for ground beef when you’re cooking burgers, tacos or casseroles. The consistency is the same, but turkey lacks the high saturated fat and cholesterol of red meats, while maintaining a high protein content.
It’s a quick and easy substitution, and it can go a long way towards your heart health.
Extra-virgin olive oil for butter or other oils
Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the best all-around oils. You can use it for salads, for cooking and for finishing dishes. It’s packed with the good fats you need for heart health, and it’s much healthier than butter or other kinds of oil, which can be high in saturated fats.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting your favorite foods out of your diet. That can be depressing and even counter-productive. Instead, get creative by finding healthy food substitutions.