Cutting calories doesn’t mean having to cut out all your favorite foods.

All you have to do is incorporate a few tweaks to lighten up the foods you love – and then watch the extra pounds disappear.shutterstock_1755607

Weight loss means balancing calories ingested with calories burned through exercise and other activity. Creating a deficit tips the scale in your favor.

It’s always better to substitute rather than eliminate. So, let’s get ready to make a few simple substitutions part of your regular diet, so that you can maintain your weight loss permanently.

Start with these 9 ways to cut 100 calories at a time.

  1. To Halve or Halve Not: It’s really easy to cut out a lot of calories by reducing the amount of fat or sugar in your recipes. For example, replace half the oil with applesauce or fruit puree for an equally moist and just-as-yummy muffin or cake. By adding fruit puree you also add fiber and fewer calories. Experiment with an FDA-approved no-cal baking substitute such as Splenda for baking.

Cut 100: A cup of sugar has 774 calories: cut more than 100 calories by reducing to 3/4 of a cup.

  1. Baste for Taste: It’s a traditional cooking technique to baste roasting meats with pan drippings. But, using this liquid fat boosts the calories you’ll consume. So, instead of basting with butter or margarine, cut the saturated fat by basting with flavorful vegetable broth, white wine or orange juice (my personal favorite!). If you usually use margarine you’ll also avoid the nasty trans fats. Even better, our Ronco Rotisserie Ovens baste in their own juices, so you don’t have to do a thing!

Cut 100: Replace one tablespoon of butter (100 calories) with zero-calorie broth.

  1. Lean on Me! Buy the leanest cuts of meat and trim all visible fat before cooking. BeefNutrition.org has a great fact sheet to help you choose the leanest cuts of beef. Be sure to skin the poultry to lower its fat count. You’ll also trim a few calories by sticking to the white meat. The thighs pack an extra 50 more calories per 3-ounce portion. Looking for a leaner burger? Try ground turkey BREAST (4 ounces equal 120 calories) instead of run-of-the-mill ground turkey, which typically includes the skin and dark meat – and an extra 120 calories per 4-ounce serving.

Cut 100: Instead of a 3-ounce 80%-lean hamburger (231 calories) select 95% lean at 145 calories.

  1. Just Say Low: Hopefully by now you’ve switched from whole milk to lower fat or nonfat milk. Don’t stop there. Make it your policy to just say “low” to all types of dairy, including yogurts, cheeses, buttermilk, cottage cheese and sour cream. Buttermilk is a perfect substitute for whole milk in all types of recipes. Nonfat evaporated milk works great in any sauce or dessert recipe, but don’t confuse “evaporated” with “condensed” milk, which is heavily sweetened with sugar.

Cut 100: Replace a regular fruit-on-the-bottom sweetened full-fat yogurt (170 calories) with a nonfat “lite” yogurt that has about 80 calories.

  1. Say Yes to Chocolate: Why deny yourself the sensuous pleasure of chocolate when there are so many delicious lower-calorie products to indulge your taste buds while losing weight? One of my favorite guilt-free sweet treats is Werther’s Sugar Free, a hard candy that has just 40 calories in 5 pieces. Dining out? Some restaurants serve mini-desserts that are just enough for one… it’s even better if you split it). So, go ahead… indulge and enjoy.

Cut 100: Instead of a meager half-cup of full-fat premium ice cream (250 calories) enjoy a whole Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich and its scrumptious 150 calories.

  1. You Can’t Beat Eggs:  A large egg contains about 85 calories. When you consider the nutritional value (protein, essential vitamins and minerals) eggs are a home run! But, as we noted above, adding fat to the pan adds calories. Keep in mind that most of the fat and all of the cholesterol is found in the egg’s yolk, while most of the protein is in the white.

Cut 100: Egg whites are fat and cholesterol-free. Instead of scrambling 3 eggs and 1/3 cup of whole milk (266 calories), scramble 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg, whipped with 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk (168 calories).

  1. Crunch Time: I love having texture in the foods I eat. While some of us prefer smooth or creamy, my favorite texture is CRUNCHY! Add some snap, crackle and crunch to your meals with low-fat and high-fiber cereals. Instead of coating fish or chicken with fatty breadcrumbs or nuts and deep-frying them, coat your chicken breasts or fish filets with crunchy whole grain cereal nuggets or crushed corn flakes and bake or broil.

Cut 100: Instead of sprinkling your salad with mere 1/4-cup of slivered almonds (135 calories), mix in a whole cup of diced celery – it’s only 19 calories per cup!

  1. Get Saucy: A “white sauce” typically means that it’s made with full fat milk or cream plus added flour and fat – and hundreds of extra calories. Think Alfredo. This beloved sauce packs 220 calories and 20 grams of fat per half-cup. Marinara sauce, meanwhile, has just 70 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. Use in conjunction with the Ronco Pasta Maker and you’ve got yourself fresh, homemade pasta with sauce in minutes!

Cut 100: Instead of Alfredo with cream or carbonara with meat and cheese, choose a broth-based tomato sauce. Or make your own lower-fat version by substituting low-fat ingredients.

  1. Munchie Mania: Snack foods can make or break a diet. Most add hundreds of calories to your diet with little or no nutritional benefit. Read the ingredient label and nutrition facts panel to make your decision – then choose to lose!

Cut 100: A single snack package of regular potato chips has 200 calories and 13 grams of fat (package weight 35.4 grams). Try creating your own potato, sweet potato or kale chips in the Chip-Tastic for a delicious, healthy, and crunchy snack any time… plus you’ll save 4 times the calories!

Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian with advanced certificates in Adult Weight Management from the CDR, and is also a certified diabetes educator.  Susan blogs regularly at Second Nature Nutrition.