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Low Calorie Diet Hacks
Make Dieting For Fat Loss Easier
I am a fat kid at heart. Could be ADHD (crave dopamine from sugar and other comfort foods), could be that I’m just weak for junk food.
Whichever, doesn’t matter, the reality is that when you’re trying to lose fat in a caloric deficit, you will undeniably be hungry and within this you will have cravings for food that you just can’t fit into your diet.
But I won’t accept this as reality, I want to have my cake and eat it too, so over the last decade I have figured out what foods I can have that satisfy the sweet tooth, inner fat kid, and don’t break the bank on my caloric budget for fat loss.
Now you can argue all day that this is just weak and learn to enjoy the suffering and ignore it—you’ll become “more mentally resilient”. Sure, you may have a point, but I (and many of you) also do not care and take pride in looking for ways to make my life suck a little less.
The reality is when you are in a caloric deficit, things add up quick. You want to get as much high volume, lean meals—things like beef, chicken, rice, vegetables, potatoes, etc.—to help satiate hunger and keep performance high in the gym.
You just don’t have space to sacrifice 500+ calories on “junk” that’s not going to satisfy hunger, not have much protein (if any), and limit the amount of total meals of more satiating food you can have a day.
At the end of the day, being successful with fat loss is just a numbers and consistency game. How long you can adhere to your caloric deficit is how long it will take to see results. It’s simply a game of time—be in a caloric deficit for enough time and you will see the fat loss results you are after.
This is where lower calorie and/or higher protein/better macronutrient foods come into play, and oh man can they help make the pain of dieting so much easier. This will help you lose fat over time due to the fact it will make you more likely to adhere to a caloric deficit consistently.
What Constitutes A “Diet Hack”
Essentially what qualifies as a “diet hack” in this context is any food that is either:
Very low calorie but tastes good and/or comparable to its more calorically dense alternative. (Smart Sweets vs Swedish Fish/Gummy Bears/Etc)
A food that tastes good/comparable to it’s more calorically dense alternative but has better macronutrient/nutritional content (Halo Top vs Ben & Jerry’s)
We could also consider things like pickles, cucumbers (same thing basically), mustard, hot sauce, etc. but that’s not really the goal here (I talked about those in this post). We’re talking about actual foods/snacks that are simply alternatives to something we otherwise couldn’t eat.
What our goal here is to address cravings. Cravings are real, they will happen to you, but we have solutions to help limit those cravings. Now don’t get me wrong, you still have to have some self-discipline—you will still be hungry, you are in fact in an energy (calorie) deficit, but this can help avoid a total breakdown of your diet.
Sugar and Sweets Lovers
Typically we’re going to have 1 of 2 different cravings:
First let’s go over what we can do when Number 1 hits us:
Outshine Zero Sugar Added Fruit Bars
The fact that for only 25 calories you can have a fruit bar/popsicle that tastes extremely good is in and of itself a gift when you are in a caloric deficit. Just think, 4 of them are 100 calories, which means you could have 1 after most of your meals and barely break the bank in terms of calories.
I find 1 or 2, so 25-50 calories—which is the equivalent of walking around the block a couple times—to be enough to satisfy the sweet tooth and craving.
As with all these suggestions, just be cognizant that you don’t rationalize eating the entire box (which is only 300 calories, but still).
For the candy lovers, there is a solution as well, in comes “Smart Sweets”.
At only 100 calories a bag, these have substantially less calories than their traditional candy equivalents and taste… comparable. Some love these, some hate these, personally I enjoy them and after a while, don’t really care about the difference—hunger makes everything taste good.
Personally I like the “Sweet Fish” the best, my wife swears by the “Sourmelon Bites”—both are good.
Halo Top Ice Cream
For 280-360 calories you can have the equivalent of 1000+ calories from traditional ice cream. Halo Top also has 15g+ of protein, so all in all it is more macro-friendly in your diet.
Personally, I find it just as good as ice cream to an extent, but when you’re hungry it tastes like crack (that’s crack-cocaine, not to be confused with butt crack). I repeat: 1 pint is only 280-360, some of you eat even less than that… couldn’t be me, all or nothing.
Strawberry, Chocolate and Cookies N Cream are by far my favorite flavors.
(Honorable Mention: Fairlife Ice Cream)
Halo Top Pops (Fruit & Ice Cream)
These are absolutely fantastic, like the Outshine bars, very low calorie for the fruit bars at 40 calories per and the ice cream pops are only 100 calories of and 6g of protein (though insignificant, good for something this tasty and low calorie).
Again 1 or 2 of these will hit the spot and not bombard you with calories.
Pictured are my 2 favorite flavors: Strawberry & Brownie Batter.
(Honorable Mention: Yasso Bars)
Legendary Foods Tasty Pastry
It is simply hard to put the idea of having a “Pop-Tart” equivalent and it being mostly protein as well as tasting exceptionally good.
This actually has better macros than most protein bars and also tastes much better. I like to have 2 of these after the gym every now and then for a whopping 340 calories and 40g of protein.
The chocolate is my favorite, put it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds, let it sit (it will burn your mouth with chocolatey lava) and enjoy.
Clio Greek Yogurt Bars
These are pretty much just delicious chocolate bars with Greek Yogurt in the middle of them.
They taste great and have 8-9g of protein for only 140 calories. They also make a mini version that is great for fixing a chocolate craving, with only 60 calories.
Strawberry and Blueberry are my favorite flavors.
Salty & Crunchy Cravings
This is arguably worse than sugar cravings because salty, crunchy foods are usually highly processed and very calorically dense.
Think about things like salted almonds, even though “healthy” they are extremely calorically sense, a handful is a couple hundred calories and will fill you up for about 13 seconds (I have beef with almonds, yes).
Or we opt for something like potato chips, and do I really need to say anymore on that?
Instead we can satisfy the craving and enjoy the nice salty crunch without breaking the calorie bank:
While not exactly inexpensive, it is definitely better nutrition values than the alternative. At 390 calories and 20g of protein per bag, this is going to beat a bag of Cheetos any day in terms of fitting your diet.
These are not necessarily as flavor-packed as their junk food alternative, they definitely do a good job curbing the craving and allowing some flexibility in your diet,
My favorite is the “Chill Ranch” and half a bag will probably be enough to satisfy the craving, so only a 195 calorie snack.
Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop!
It is hard to not be full after eating a bunch of popcorn, I usually don’t even eat a full bag, I split it between by wife—for 180 calories that WILL fill you up.
They also make mini bags, which might be a better option if you will eat until whatever you’re eating is gone, for only 100 calories a bag.
Popcorn is one of the most clutch food items when dieting solely for the fact you can eat so much of it.
Quest Protein Chips
This is very, very hit or miss for people, but I personally really enjoy these deep into a dieting phase.
Only 150 calories per bag and 18g of protein, it’s kinda easy to get past the somewhat bland taste with those numbers. They get the job done for cravings and regardless of what people say, I really think they are decent for what they are.
Nacho Cheese and BBQ are my favorite flavors.
Quest Protein Pizza
While you could in theory make your own pizza and use ingredients to have similar or even better macros, when you’re tired, lazy, and craving something different, these hit the spot.
They are around 25g of protein per serving and 330 calories, a serving is half a pizza so a full one, which if you’re like me you will eat, is 50g of protein and 660 calories making it a good meal replacement on occasion when you are sick of traditional dieting foods.
Big fan of the 4-Cheese and Pepperoni Pizzas, they are honestly just not that bad.
Ostrim Beef/Elk/Turkey/Ostrich/Chicken Sticks (And Just Jerky in General)
These are just the right amount of salt and texture to really satisfy a salty food craving, really any jerky that is low in sugar and fats are, but these are convenient and good servings.
They are 80-120 calories and 10g+ of protein making them very easy to fit into your diet, they are also very, very tasty as well.
Won’t name a favorite flavor, I like them all.
Out of Space
Well, we’ve reached the email data limit…
While there are a few more I could name, this really captures the main go-to’s I have when I am craving something outside of my normal diet and need to mix things up or make my life a little easier.
A key note here is that these are meant to be little treats or snacks, not make up any significant portion of your diet—healthy whole foods should be the main 80% of your diet.
If you can manage to fight off cravings and make your life easier when dieting, you will find you’re more successful in your goals to lose body fat.
For some, these might just lead to more eating and cravings—if that is you, it is probably best to avoid any foods that are going to trigger you to give into temptation and make unwise nutrition decisions.
I’m curious to hear your favorites that I have not listed here in the comments—I am a sucker for anything that I can sneak into my diet and bring more joy into my life as someone who spends up to half the year in a caloric deficit.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.