Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Foods You Can Live With

It’s almost impossible to go grocery shopping and not be tempted by the foods that are bad for you. The grocery stores do this on purpose. They want you to buy more food and the way to do that is market foods that are high in sugar and fat content. In other words, the foods that taste good but are really bad for you.

The first thing you should do is to have something to eat before you go to the store. Especially the grocery store! I’m sure you’ve heard this before and it’s true – it’s almost impossible to listen to your stomach grumbling and bypass the ready-to-eat processed foods that are within arms reach. Or, better yet, go to the grocery store after your workout. You won’t want to waste all that hard work getting into shape on a snack that may taste good for 5 minutes – but would negate your workout – would you?

But there are other tricks you can use to stay on track, like avoiding the aisle with the Twinkies and Lays Potato Chips (Ruffles, of course). What you put in your cart will make it easier to maintain your ideal weight when you get home. You’ll begin to cook with the alternatives you selected in the grocery store and begin to lose weight with better nutrition. Your waistline will soon thank you for it and you’ll feel better too!

Here are some low-calorie alternatives that will provide you with some new ideas for old favorites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We encourage you to read labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy. Simply click on the Print button to print this chart out and bring it with you to the store. You’ll soon be adding to this list with your own substitutions.  Have Fun!!

Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Alternative Foods

These low-calorie alternatives provide new ideas for old favorites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We encourage you to read labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy.

Dairy Products

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Yellow Up Arrow Evaporated whole milk
  • Green Down Arrow Evaporated fat-free (skim) or reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • Yellow Up Arrow Whole milk
  • Green Down Arrow Low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%), or fat-free (skim) milk
  • Yellow Up Arrow Ice cream
  • Green Down Arrow Sorbet, sherbet, low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt, or ice cream
  • Yellow Up Arrow Whipping cream
  • Green Down Arrow Imitation whipped cream (made with fat-free [skim] milk)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Sour cream
  • Green Down Arrow Plain low-fat yogurt
  • Yellow Up Arrow Cream cheese
  • Green Down Arrow Neufchatel or “light” cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese
  • Yellow Up Arrow Cheese (cheddar, Swiss, jack)
  • Green Down Arrow Reduced-calorie cheese, low-calorie processed cheeses, etc.
  • Green Down Arrow Fat-free cheese
  • Yellow Up Arrow American cheese
  • Green Down Arrow Fat-free American cheese or other types of fat-free cheeses
  • Yellow Up Arrow Regular (4%) cottage cheese
  • Green Down Arrow Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) cottage cheese
  • Yellow Up Arrow Whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • Green Down Arrow Part-skim milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • Yellow Up Arrow Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Green Down Arrow Part-skim milk ricotta cheese
  • Yellow Up Arrow Coffee cream (½ and ½) or nondairy creamer (liquid, powder)
  • Green Down Arrow Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) milk or fat-free dry milk powder

Cereals, Grains, and Pastas

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Yellow Up Arrow Ramen noodles
  • Green Down Arrow Rice or noodles (spaghetti, macaroni, etc.)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Pasta with white sauce (alfredo)
  • Green Down Arrow Pasta with red sauce (marinara)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Pasta with cheese sauce
  • Green Down Arrow Pasta with vegetables (primavera)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Granola
  • Green Down Arrow Bran flakes, crispy rice, etc.
  • Green Down Arrow Cooked grits or oatmeal
  • Green Down Arrow Reduced-fat granola

Meat, Fish, and Poultry

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Yellow Up Arrow Coldcuts or lunch meats (bologna, salami, liverwurst, etc.)
  • Green Down Arrow Low-fat coldcuts (95 to 97% fat-free lunch meats, low-fat pressed meats)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Hot dogs (regular)
  • Green Down Arrow Lower fat hotdogs
  • Yellow Up Arrow Bacon or sausage
  • Green Down Arrow Canadian bacon or lean ham
  • Yellow Up Arrow Regular ground beef
  • Green Down Arrow Extra-lean ground beef such as ground round or ground turkey (read labels)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Chicken or turkey with skin, duck, or goose
  • Green Down Arrow Chicken or  skin (white meat)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Oil-packed tuna
  • Green Down Arrow Water-packed tuna (rinse to reduce sodium content)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Beef (chuck, rib,brisket)
  • Green Down Arrow Beef (round, loin)(trimmed of external fat) (choose select grades)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Pork (spareribs, untrimmed loin)
  • Green Down Arrow Pork tenderloin or trimmed, lean smoked ham
  • Yellow Up Arrow Frozen breaded fish or fried fish (homemade or commercial)
  • Green Down Arrow Fish or shellfish, unbreaded (fresh, frozen, canned in water)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Whole eggs
  • Green Down Arrow Egg whites or egg substitutes
  • Yellow Up Arrow Frozen TV dinners containing more than 13 grams of fat per serving
  • Green Down Arrow Frozen TV dinners containing less than 13 grams of fat per serving and lower in sodium
  • Yellow Up Arrow Chorizo sausage
  • Green Down Arrow Turkey sausage, drained well (read label)
  • Green Down Arrow Vegetarian sausage (made with tofu)

Baked Goods

Higher Fat Foods

Lower Fat Alternative

  • Yellow Up Arrow Croissants, brioches, etc.
  • Green Down Arrow  Hard french rolls or soft brown ’n serve rolls
  • Yellow Up Arrow Donuts, sweet rolls,muffins, scones, or pastries
  • Green Down Arrow English muffins, bagels,reduced-fat or fat-free muffins or scones (choose lowest calorie variety)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Party crackers
  • Green Down Arrow Low-fat crackers (choose lowest in sodium)
  • Green Down Arrow Saltine or soda crackers (choose lowest in sodium)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Cake (pound, chocolate,yellow)
  • Green Down Arrow Cake (angel food, white, gingerbread)
  • Yellow Up Arrow Cookies
  • Green Down Arrow Reduced-fat or fat-free cookies (graham crackers, ginger snaps, fig bars) (choose lowest calorie variety)

Snacks and Sweets

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Yellow Up Arrow Nuts
  • Green Down Arrow Popcorn (air-popped or
    light microwave), fruits, vegetables
  • Yellow Up Arrow Ice cream, e.g. cones or bars
  • Green Down Arrow Frozen yogurt, frozen
    fruit or chocolate pudding bars
  • Yellow Up Arrow Custards or puddings
    (made with whole milk)
  • Green Down Arrow Puddings (made with skim milk)

Fats, Oils, and Salad Dressings

Higher Fat Foods

Lower Fat Alternative

  • Yellow Up ArrowRegular margarine or butter
  • Green Down Arrow Light spread margarines,
    diet margarine, or whipped butter, tub or squeeze bottle
  • Yellow Up Arrow Regular mayonnaise
  • Green Down Arrow Light or diet mayonnaise
    or mustard
  • Yellow Up Arrow Regular salad dressings
  • Green Down Arrow Reduced-calorie or fat-free salad dressings, lemon juice, or plain, herb flavored, or wine
  • Yellow Up Arrow Butter or margarine on
    toast or bread
  • Green Down Arrow Jelly, jam, or honey on
    bread or toast
  • Yellow Up Arrow Oils, shortening, or lard
  • Green Down Arrow Nonstick  cooking spray
    for stir-frying or sautéing
  • Green Down Arrow As a substitute for oil or butter, use applesauce or prune puree in baked goods


Higher Fat Foods

Lower Fat Alternative

  • Yellow Up Arrow Canned cream
  • Green Down Arrow Canned broth-based
  • Yellow Up Arrow Canned beans and
  • Green Down Arrow Canned baked beans in
    tomato sauce
  • Yellow Up Arrow Gravy (homemade with fat
    and/or milk)
  • Green Down Arrow Gravy mixes made with
    water or homemade with the fat skimmed off and fat-free milk
  • Yellow Up Arrow Fudge sauce
  • Green Down Arrow Chocolate syrup
  • Yellow Up Arrow Avocado on
  • Green Down Arrow Cucumber slices or
    lettuce leaves
  • Yellow Up Arrow Guacamole dip or refried beans with lard
  • Green Down Arrow Salsa

Share with us!What Do You Think

What are your favorite substitutions? 

What would you not give up for the world!!! 

Thank you for visiting with us today, we hope you found this article useful and find some substitutions that you can try. Remember, even a few substitutions can really add up over the course of a year. Wishing you the best of health!


Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

10 thoughts

  1. Luckily I’m a fruit and veg junkie but I’m also a chocoholic! If I go shopping when I’m hungry I tend to want all the fast fix food that gives you the immediate burst of energy and then goes. Since my new healthy eating regime started I have a list and I sometimes shop online, I stick to my list. Even in store, I stick with the list. Seeing and feeling the results of the weight loss helps to keep me on track but it is pure willpower that stops me from eating the treats I buy for my parents. I have treats, low calorie, no additives or preservative treats. Jaffa cakes, ice lollies, wholegrain popcorn. Just small servings so that I’m not denying myself…otherwise I’d be straight in to Mom’s chocolate stash!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dawn!
      That’s great to hear that you are finding healthy snacks, but it must be very challenging to go down the isles where your parents snacks are and not indulge – you are AWESOME! I love the idea of creating and sticking to the list – thank you for sharing that.

      I start with my ‘must have’ list and wing the rest. I admit, ice cream is my weakness and I indulge a bit, but don’t overdo it like I used to when I was a larger version of myself :).

      I am sorry your mom and dad have their bad days and hope that writing about it helps you – please remember, you need some time for you.

      Guys, Dawn writes about her experiences at A Touch of Irish Sparkle.com. I’m sure she’s love some company!

      Thank you for being here today Dawn!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Joan, I’m with you on the ice cream, I love it and it is difficult to not each a huge dish full when I give some to my parents after dinner each night. However, I know how good I feel these days, how I can fit into my clothes and the extra confidence I have so that keeps me away from the dish. I’d rather save it for special days.

        Thank you for your kind words regarding my parents. All things considered they are not too bad at all. I’m only too glad to be here with them and yes you are right, I find it very therapeutic to write my blog about my life, hopes and dreams.

        Great to connect with you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The concept of providing reduced calorie/fat alternatives offers a mixed blessing. It’s great to think about alternative food choices necessary to ultimately improve one’s health. The less desirable down side, however, is that lower calorie/fat foods often are full of chemicals, preservatives, dyes and other artificial ingredients. A shorter simpler grocery list might include: (1) “things that walk,” (2) “things that grow,” and (3) “things that go rancid” in short periods of time. This simple approach will expose people to REAL FOODS offering better quality nutrition including vitamins and minerals.

    Really enjoy your blog site and all the effort into helping people discover better choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Doctor – do you mean diet foods, diet soda or the foods that are marked low-cal or reduced fat?

      That is an important point – it’s very important to eat natural foods (i like that slogan) while ensuring you have good nutrition.

      I appreciate you stopping by and helping clarify – your support is greatly appreciated. And thank you for the kind words. I love sharing what I’m learning!
      Thank you for visiting Doctor, your visits are a pleasure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Joan, those are examples of “food stuff” choices that people make to reduce calorie intake. Although calories do count, quality REAL FOOD is lower in calories and satiates hunger more efficiently in general. Naturally REAL FOODS high in quality fat are calorie dense.

        Combining quality foods with MOTION/exercise is essential for EVERY LIFE. Most people still believe exercise is recreational and only considered IF time permits. This thinking has been a major component to the CAUSE of disease.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I agree, that was me too, until my aches started prematurely – exercise was the only thing that helped – it’s only then that I realized that it was a lifetime event, not a passing fad. It is my sincere hope that people realize just how important exercise and nutrition is and it’s essential to their quality of life. Thank you Doctor Jonathan and thank you for your site – allabouthealthychoices.wordpress.com – too!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I hope so – you have great advice which I am sure they value as I do. Just what the Doctor ordered :) Thank you again Doctor Jonathan – I appreciate your visits and helpful insights!


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