While tracking your caloric intake through the use of apps such as MyFitnessPal is the most accurate way of tracking your food intake, some people find this a tedious process having to weigh food for every meal. However, I would still recommend tracking your food intake for at least a week to get a baseline intake of what and how much you’re eating. Over time you’ll be able to eyeball portion sizes and be able to accurately estimate the calorie breakdown of your meals.

For the athlete or person looking to get leaner, there are a few dietary “tricks” you can use to keep your calorie intake down without feeling like you are restricting yourself. The idea comes down to eating foods that are much more dense and will keep you full for longer but also have far less calories than other foods in the same macronutrient (protein, carbs or fats) category.

Credit @YLMSportScience

Here’s a list of food alternatives you can use and how they compare.

Breakfast

Special K Cereal 100g – 379cal, 76g Carbs, 14g Pro

Alternatives

Oats 100g – 356cal, 60g Carbs, 16 Pro

Multigrain Bread 100g (a little less than 4 slices) – 251cal, 46.4g Carbs

(While you probably wouldn’t eat 100g of cereal for breakfast, there is always added milk. Furthermore, oats will keep you full for hours!).

Lunch/Dinner (Carbs)

White Rice (Jasmine) 100g – 349cal, 77.6g Carbs

Multigrain Bread 100g (a little less than 4 slices) – 251cal, 46.4g Carbs

Pasta 100g – 352cal, 71.3 Carbs

Alternatives

Potato 100g – 77 cal, 18g Carbs

Sweet Potato/Kumara 100g – 86cal, 20g Carbs

(Don’t forget your veges!)

Lunch/Dinner (Protein)

Chicken Thighs Raw 100g – 121cal, 20g Pro, 4g Fat

Chicken Drumstick w/ Skin 100g – 161cal, 18g Pro, 9g Fat

Regular Mince 100g – 217cal, 20g Pro, 17g Fat

Alternatives

Chicken Breast Raw 100g – 110cal, 23g Pro, 1g Fat

Canned Tuna 100g – 116cal, 26g Pro, 1g Fat

Turkey Breast 100g – 104cal, 17g Pro, 2g Fat

Lean Beef Mince 100g – 167cal, 20g Pro, 10g Fat

Milk

Full Fat Milk 1 Cup (approx 250ml) – 146cal, 8g Pro, 13g Carbs, 8g Fat

Alternative

Lite Low Fat Milk 1 Cup – 102cal, 8g Pro, 13g Carbs, 2g Fat

This list is not exhaustive and does not mean you can’t eat any of the foods above the alternatives. This just gives some examples of how for some meals you may make these substitutions to lower your calorie intake or you may eat a smaller serving of the foods above the alternatives.

Eric Helms of 3DMJ puts it best – “There is no such thing as a bad food, only a bad diet.”