On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

28 Food Substitutes for Weight Loss

While replacing innutritious foods with more wholesome ones is critical for weight loss and overall health, there are simple healthy food alternatives you can make to ease the process!

28 Food Substitutes for Weight Loss

Healthy Food Substitutes for Weight Loss


1. Granola → Oatmeal
Although granola seems like a healthful option from its exterior, it often comes with added sugars and oils. So rather than pouring out a bowl of sugary granola, opt for a nutritious bowl of oatmeal, packed with fiber and other nutrients to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.

2. Nonfat Fruit Yogurt → Greek Yogurt with Fruit
While the yogurts’ play on words seems comparable (if not exact), there are significant difference between the two. Nonfat fruit yogurts are not only low in protein, but packed with unwanted sugars. Opting for a plain Greek yogurt and topping with favorite fresh fruits limits sugar and maximizes both protein and fiber content for a satiating breakfast or snack option.

3. Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagel → Breakfast Burrito
Rather than resorting to a carb and fat-laden bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, lighten up your morning with a breakfast burrito. Simply scramble two eggs with veggies of choice, including bell pepper and onion, and transfer to a whole grain tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of cheese and salsa as desired, roll it up, and head to the office with your on-the-go breakfast!

4. Strawberry Milkshake → Strawberry Smoothie
A smoothie that tastes like a milkshake? And for breakfast? Although it sounds like a vision of from your wildest dreams, we are about to shake up your morning routine! Simply add 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 frozen banana, ½ cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup of milk of choice, and 1 tsp vanilla extract to a blender. Mix until smooth, adding splashes of milk as needed to meet desired consistency. Pour into a large glass and enjoy!


5. Broccoli Cheese Soup → Beef Bone Broth
Broccoli added into soup does not necessarily verify its health content… But making a simple swap from high-calorie and cream-based soups to low-calorie, broth-based options can help facilitate weight loss goals. In fact, according to a study conducted by Penn State University, consuming soup before the main entree can help cut total caloric intake by 20 percent! These protein-packed soups can also stand as a balanced meal and assist in weight loss efforts.

6. Iceberg Lettuce → Spinach
Whereas iceberg lettuce is A-Okay to stock your lunch salads, you can upgrade the nutritional value by swapping it with dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula. To put this into a more detailed perspective, one cup of iceberg lettuce provides a little under a gram of fiber and 13 milligrams (mg) of calcium, while a cup-equivalent of kale boasts a little over two grams of fiber and 100 mg of bone-building calcium and a cup of fresh spinach provides nearly double the daily requirement for vitamin K!

7. Croutons → Nuts and Seeds
Though known to top salads for added crunch and flavor, croutons essentially lack any sort of nutritional value. Nuts and seeds not only add a desirable crunch, but grant healthy fats shown to support heart health.


8. Pork → Jackfruit
Jackfruit is an extremely unique and versatile fruit and commonly used in plant-based diets, as it mimics several meats and reduces calories from fat. Swap out pork for this nutritious BBQ jackfruit sandwich, adapting ingredients to accommodate veganism practices and preferences.

9. Large Pizza → Individual Pizza Muffins
Have your pizza and lose weight, too, by preparing individualized pizza muffins. Half an English muffin and garnish with favorite pizza toppings, including tomato or pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded chicken, green peppers, and onion. Bake in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven until cheese is lightly golden, or about 10 minutes.

10. Lettuce Wraps → Flour Tortillas
Lighten up your next #TacoTuesday by swapping out those flour tortillas for lettuce leaves. Harness all the flavors your love by adding and folding large lettuce leaves with favorite taco ingredients.

11. Hamburger Buns → Portobello Mushrooms
Hamburger buns may hold your burger, but they tend to hold no nutritional value and add unwanted calories. Swap out the hamburger bun and by using mushroom caps: Clean and scrape out the gills and stems of the mushroom and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place on grill with beef or bison hamburger patty and assemble once cooked. Go for a classic hamburger or be creative with an Asian turkey burger featuring crushed red pepper, grated carrot and cabbage, and a drizzle of soy sauce.

12. White Pasta → Spaghetti Squash
Using spaghetti squash in place of refined white pasta noodles not only cuts down, but amplifies the nutrient density of that beloved comfort meal. In fact, spaghetti squash is loaded with vitamins A and C and fiber and these 10 different ways to eat it are far from shameful!


13. Potato Chips → Popcorn
Compared to potato chips and other crunchy snacks, popcorn can be a valuable option to nosh on when cravings strike. In fact, about three cups of air-popped popcorn is similar to the calories of one small handful of chips or crackers. However, it is important to stray away from the butter-drenched kernels, ultimately swapping out high-calorie snack foods with fiber-filled, air-popped popcorn to save calories, initiate satiety, and support weight loss. The sweet, decadent kernels of these caramel corn recipes are also nothing short of desirable to satisfy that sweet tooth!

14. Protein Bars → Almonds
Dieters often look to protein bars as a nutritious and convenient snack, though they often are filled with unwanted sugars, oils, and other additives. Replace such bars with a small palmful of almonds, as they are naturally filled with satiating protein and healthy fat and shown to support weight loss in a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.

Side Dishes

15. Rice → Quinoa
First off, rice is certainly a healthful food! However, quinoa offers a little more of a nutritional punch than standard white rice. Quinoa displays an exceptionally higher content of fiber, protein, and vitamin and minerals to prosper your goals, yet still remains extremely versatile for use.

16. Rice → Grated Cauliflower
Whereas swapping rice with quinoa is a healthy food alternative for weight loss, so is grated cauliflower! This light and fluffy cauliflower rice recipe is perfect food swap to lighten up any rice dish and boost nutrient content.

17. Mashed Potatoes → Mashed Cauliflower
But the use of cauliflower does not stop with rice and can even be transformed into a "mashed potato" substitute! The recipe is also flexible, allowing you freedom to use favorite mashed potato toppings and seasonings.

Sauces, Condiments and Dressings

18. Sour Cream → Greek Yogurt
Drop the fat content and enhance protein in tuna or chicken salads by swapping out mayo with plain Greek yogurt. Try subbing ½ of the Greek yogurt in to cut out ½ the mayo, see how it tastes, and gradually swap in as much yogurt as your taste buds prefer. The tanginess of the yogurt can also be used as sour cream to top tacos or that mashed cauliflower recipe!

19. Mayo → Mustard
Swapping from mayo to mustard is a simple way to not only save on calories from fat, but ignite the flavor profile of your sandwich.

20. Store-Bought Ranch → Homemade Greek Yogurt Ranch
Store-bought dressing tends to be locked and loaded with added sugars, oils, and other preservatives that can tarnish the total nutrition of a salad. But by preparing this homemade Greek yogurt ranch, turn those leafy greens from drab to fab and boost its overall protein content.

21. Butter → Olive Oil
Though the fear of fat is tapering, swapping out butter for olive oil lessens saturated and increases monounsaturated fatty acids, a well-known healthy fat shown to be highly beneficial to heart health. Research suggests the oil can promote fat loss and even assist in diabetes management by reducing after meal blood sugar levels.


22. Sugar → Applesauce
Using applesauce in place of sugar when baking simultaneously adds natural sweetness and nutrients and limits total calories. And not to mention, instantaneously satisfies that pesky sweet tooth whilst supporting your weight loss goals! But in addition to applesauce, try out these extra delicious and healthy baking swaps!

23. Ice Cream → Frozen Bananas
No milk, cream, or sugar but yes to all the characteristics of ice cream you relish! Make a "nice" cream with one primary ingredient: Bananas! Simply add three ripened and frozen bananas (cut into ½ inch chunks) into a food processer or blender. Blend until the bananas are completely broken down and the consistency is smooth, adding a splash of milk as needed to assist throughout the mixing process. Enjoy right away, place in the freezer for a firmer product, or try one of the 10 nice cream recipes!

24. Cream Pie → Pumpkin Pie Tartlets
Don’t let the prefixes "coconut" or "banana" throw you for a loop… Cream pies are one rich dessert, with a slice clocking in at almost 400 calories! But by making these individual pumpkin pie tartlets, you can ensure portions are controlled, all while relishing on its heart-healthy ingredients and decadent flavors (and only for 150 calories each)!


25. Soda → Water
The concern surrounding soda consumption of is not new, as it lacks any sort of nutritional value and supplies an average of 30 to 40 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving. Swapping it out with water not only saves on calories, but contributes to weight loss efforts by controlling appetite, supporting an efficient metabolism, and sustaining life! Along with consuming the recommended 64 ounces daily, stay hydrated with these 13 ways to make your water taste better!

26. Vanilla Latte → Americano
The benefits of coffee are foreseen, but brew the most when dismissing those decorated, sugary drinks (and still be gifted that morning jolt)! So rather than going for that exceptionally sweet vanilla latte, go for an Americano and add a splash of cream and dash of sweetener as needed, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

27. Fruit Juice → Whole Fruit
Think about it: Would you be more satisfied by munching on three oranges or drinking a few gulps of OJ? Unlike fruit juices, whole fruits are rich in fiber and lend greater satiety. So as a healthy food substitute to juice, eat fresh fruit instead (your body will be much happier and fuller)!

28. Premixed Strawberry Margarita → bistroMD’s Guilt-Free Strawberry Margarita
While alcohol consumption should be moderated for weight loss and overall health, happy hours and celebrations are certainly okay to enjoy every now and then. But did you know the average frozen strawberry margarita can contain upwards of 300 to 600 or even more calories in just one serving? But our guilt-free strawberry margarita recipe uses five all-natural and weighs in at just 130 calories per serving!