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 pounds and taste just as delicious.
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.
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.
Related: The 14 Best Ways to Eat an Egg
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 fiber 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.
For this: A 3-egg cheese omelet 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 fiber-filled vegetables.
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 fiber 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.
For this: A turkey 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.
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 fiber 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.
For this: One cup of plain Greek yogurt topped with as much fruit as you want
Why it works: If flavored 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 flavored 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 fiber and choosing a cup of Greek yogurt will serve you nearly 20 grams of protein, which will help satisfy any hunger pangs, says Gans.
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 4 oz 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.
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 fiber, and adds a fruit/vegetable (depending on how you want to classify avocados). Win-win!” says St. Pierre.
Related: How to Make the World’s Best Taco
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 fiber and protein.
Need something quick but filling? This 15-minute pasta dinner has 29 grams of protein. (In need of recipe ideas that will help you shed pounds while maintaining lean muscle? Check out the MetaShred Diet from Men’s Health.)
For this: A light beer, like one of these
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 an 8 oz margarita, you could be saving over 400 calories.”
Plus, when you drink it in moderation, beer comes with some health benefits.