The best part? You don’t have to sacrifice flavour

When you’re trying to shed kilos, little changes to your diet can make a big difference.

“Making small changes is more doable because you don’t feel as deprived,” says Keri Gans, R.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet. “Feelings of deprivation can derail even someone with the best weight loss intentions. In the long run, small changes will lead up to big results.”

And one of the best first steps to get to those results? Switch from processed to whole foods, suggests Brian St. Pierre, R.D., C.S.C.S., director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition. They make you less likely to crave junk later since they don’t overstimulate the reward pathways in your brain like processed foods can, meaning you’ll be less tempted to overeat.

Here, we’ve gathered 12 common gut bombs that you’ve probably reached for once or twice—and the healthier versions you can nosh on throughout your day instead. They’ll help you drop kilos and taste just as delicious.

slide1-bagel-english-muffin

SWAP THIS: WHITE BAGEL WITH CREAM CHEESE
For this: One whole grain English muffin with 1 to 2 thumb-sized portions of nut butter

Why it works: “The English muffin is less calorie-rich than the bagel, so you will save close to 100 calories with the switch, and a minimal change in the volume of food,” says St. Pierre.

The nut butter will give you an added boost of protein to help keep you full, he says.slide2-pancakes-eggs

SWAP THIS: THREE PANCAKES WITH BUTTER AND SYRUP
For this: Two pancakes with 2 poached eggs

Why it works: There’s nothing like a good, runny egg yolk to pair with your flapjacks, says Gans. This combo not only saves you empty calories, but gives you added protein (about 7 grams per egg) for satiety.

slide3-blueberry-muffin-oatmeal

SWAP THIS: BLUEBERRY MUFFIN
For this: One cup of oatmeal with a handful of blueberries

Why it works: You’ll dramatically reduce your calorie intake with this switch, says St. Pierre. Plus, the water and fibre content from the oats with fill you up fast, which helps you eat less overall and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

And this way, you’ll take in more whole antioxidant-rich blueberries.

slide4-eggs-benedict-omelette

SWAP THIS: CLASSIC EGGS BENEDICT
For this: A 3-egg cheese omelette with ham, vegetables of choice, and a thumb-sized portion of cheese

Why it works: Sometimes you have to treat yourself to an amazing brunch, but an omelette will serve you less calories since you’re nixing the hollandaise completely, says St. Pierre. You’ll load up on protein from the cheese and ham and amp up your fullness with fibre-filled vegetables.

slide5-salad-croutons-nuts-oil

SWAP THIS: A SALAD TOPPED WITH CROUTONS AND STORE BOUGHT DRESSING

For this: A salad with nuts, a teaspoon of olive oil, and lemon juice paired with white balsamic vinegar to taste

Why it works: If you don’t stick to the recommended serving size on the label, store-bought dressing can douse your salad with excess calories quickly, says Gans.

Lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar are both low in calories and olive oil gives you boost of healthy fats. Swapping out your butter-coated croutons for walnuts or almonds satisfies your need for a crunch, says Gans, and gives you more fibre and protein.

Plus, eating a salad before your meal is one of the best things you can do in terms of weight loss, says Gans. It helps fill you up so you don’t gorge on extra portions during your main meal, and you’ll typically get an extra serving of vegetables, too.

slide6-turkey-mayo-mustard

SWAP THIS: A CHICKEN SANDWICH WITH MAYO

For this: A chicken sandwich with hummus or mustard

Why it works: It’s easy to go overboard with mayo. Smearing on just 2 tablespoons will add an extra 200 calories to your lunch.

But swapping it for 2 tablespoons of hummus instead will save you about 60 calories, Gans explains, while opting for the same amount of mustard will save you about 40.

slide7-potato-chips-chickpeas-1

SWAP THIS: POTATO CHIPS
For this: Roasted chickpeas

Why it works: Potato chips give you no nutritional benefits, says Gans. But roasted chickpeas can be seriously delicious and they come packed with fibre and protein, so you’ll actually feel satisfied, instead of reaching for another snack an hour later.

Gans recommends The Good Bean Crispy Crunchy Chickpeas if you’re short on time and can’t make them yourself. But if you want to prep your chickpeas as a snack for the week, check out this easy recipe.

slide8-yogurt-flavored-fruit

SWAP THIS: FLAVOURED FRUIT YOGURT
For this: One cup of plain Greek yogurt topped with as much fruit as you want

Why it works: If flavoured yogurt is all you have, you’re definitely better off eating that than an ice cream if you’re looking for dessert, says Gans. But flavoured yogurt with “fruit” on the bottom usually lacks fruit and packs in sugar instead—so reading your labels is crucial if you’re snacking on it.

Adding whole fruit will add fibre and choosing a cup of Greek yogurt will serve you nearly 20 grams of protein, which will help satisfy any hunger pangs, says Gans.

slide9-chicken-fried-grilled-potatoes

SWAP THIS: FRIED CHICKEN AND MASHED POTATOES

For this: 1 to 2 palm-sized portions of grilled chicken with 1 to 2 handfuls of roasted potatoes

Why it works: “Switching from fried to grilled chicken saves 60 plus calories per 113 grams of chicken,” says St. Pierre.

The roasted potatoes are just as delicious, and they save you from the extra calories typically added to mashed potatoes from butter, milk, and sour cream, he adds.

slide10-tacos-beef-chicken

SWAP THIS: BEEF TACOS WITH SOUR CREAM AND SALSA
For this: Chicken tacos with guacamole and salsa

Why it works: “Replacing the cheese and sour cream with guacamole keeps the same texture and some healthy fats, but lowers the calorie content, adds fibre, and adds a fruit/vegetable (depending on how you want to classify avocados). Win-win!” says St. Pierre.

slide11-pasta-vegetables

SWAP THIS: A WHOLE PLATE OF PASTA
For this: Half a plate of pasta with vegetables

Why it works: You don’t have to ditch pasta, says Gans.

What most people are guilty of is going overboard with portions, she explains. Instead of piling your plate with spaghetti alone, fill half your plate with one cup of pasta and the other half with bulky vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and beans for added fibre and protein.

slide12-margarita-beer

SWAP THIS: A CLASSIC MARGARITA OR COCKTAIL
For this: A light beer

Why it works: “You always hear the term ‘beer gut,’ but choosing a light beer may be the way to go over some of the sugary drinks,” says Jim White, R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “By choosing a light beer over a 250ml margarita, you could be saving over 400 calories.”

Plus, when you drink it in moderation, beer comes with some health benefits.

Article originally published on menshealth.com