Calories are the energy in food, and your body needs them to keep functioning properly. Regardless of whether they come in a bag of Trader Joe’s kale chips or in a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut, all calories that are not converted into energy are stored as fat. While our bodies need calories, cutting a few here and there, according to a recent study, is an extremely efficient way to lose weight. Now, this leaves us wondering, how exactly are we meant to cut out calories from our diet? Sadly, many of the famous "celebrity diets" have people pulling out their hair as they stress over adhering to strict rules and regulations. If only there were an easier way. Lucky for us, calorie counting isn’t exactly rocket science. I’m not promising any dramatic weight loss results, but hopefully by following these eight simple tips you can cut a few calories from your daily diet and be a step closer to your fitness goal.

1. Don’t Eat in Front of the TV

A study done at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland found that eating in front of a television increases your calorie intake. This is because people hugely miscalculate how many calories they are consuming when they eat and watch TV at the same time. The same goes for eating with other distractions such as your smartphone or a computer screen. If you usual mealtime spot is plopped in front for the television, try breaking this routine and eat without any technological distractions. This will help you have control over how many calories you are actually consuming.

2. Limit Your Salad Toppings

Nothing makes us feel healthier than uttering the words, "I’ll have the salad," when ordering at a restaurant. Too bad that our salads are so often ruined by all the caloric additives we love to pile on. Take one of America’s favorites salad dressings, blue cheese, for example. According to Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, a professor of nutrition at Rutgers University, 94 percent of the calories from this dressing are from fat. “Aim for simple flavor and not pieces of cheese,” Byrd-Bredbenner suggests on MSN Healthy Living. As for the toppings, does it really count as a salad if we add cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, and croutons on top? Try opting out of some of your favorite salad toppings to help cut a few calories from your diet.

Try a simple salad, and limit your croutons. photo courtesy of Shutterstock

3. Skip the Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is a common topping for a variety of treats such as frozen coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream, cappuccinos, and even some pancakes and waffles. Rather than completely giving up your favorite treats, you can cut their calories by skipping the whipped topping. Whipped cream only has an innocent eight calories per tablespoon. Still, according to Starbucks, they put so much of the sweet fluffy cream on their popular Caramel Frappucino, that it adds an extra 130 calories to the already decadent drink.

4. Try A Skinny Cocktail

Alcohol is known to be high in calories. Based on statistics given by the World Cancer Research Fund, the classic cranberry and vodka has about 100 calories. In mixed drinks like this, a large amount of these calories actually come from the high sugar fruit juice. If you don’t even want to think about taking alcohol out of your diet, then why not opt for a less fattening way to enjoy your favorite drinks? Try seltzer or tonic water as a mixer rather than fruit juice and sodas. For some ideas on recipes for skinny cocktails, check out the video below:

5. Drink Sugar-Free

It may be easier said than done, but you would be surprised how many calories you could eliminate from your daily diet from cutting down or even eliminating sugar from your beverages. A teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories. If you add three teaspoons of sugar to your coffee or tea and have three servings of these caffeinated drinks every day, the calories begin to add up. The same goes for soda, which is overall just bad for you, but also filled with unnecessary sugar. One can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Try opting for simple water, or if you need the feel of a carbonated drink, try lemon in seltzer water. As for your coffee and tea, if you can’t go completely sugar-free, instead try and cut down on the amount of sugar that you do add.

6. Switch to Skim Milk

Whole milk is filled with calories and especially beneficial for growing children and those trying to gain weight and build bulk. For everyone else, switching to skim milk is an easy way to cut out calories from your daily diet. The Minnesota Department of Health reported that an 8-ounce glass of whole milk had 150 calories, while the same serving of skim milk only had 80 calories. Even if you don’t necessarily drink milk, switching to skim milk in your coffee or cereal bowls could also help you to cut calories each day.

7. Skip on Smoothie Breakfasts

Smoothies are a health craze that have gained popularity as a breakfast substitute. Although the smoothie is an excellent way to get your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, it is also chock-full of calories. Starbuck’s Strawberry Smoothie has 300 calories. While this isn’t so bad as far as breakfast foods go, many of us drink smoothies with our breakfast, rather than in place of one. Try and opt for a healthy bowl of oatmeal or actual piece of fruit for your breakfast of choice, wash it down with some lemon water, and give the smoothies a bit of a break if you’re trying to cut out the extra calories.

8. Opt for a Kids' Meal

You just got out of work and you’re starving, with neither the time nor energy to cook. If you have already set your mind on chowing down on fast food, you can make sure you keep the calories in your meal to a minimum by ordering a kids-size meal. A McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese packs a whopping 600 calories. Add a drink and fries to that, and we’re talking a hefty calorie intake for the day. Four chicken McNuggets with a Kids' Fries on the other hand, together only have 390 calories. Even the six chicken nugget meal isn’t so bad, at only 280 calories in total.

McDonald's small fries Calgary Reviews CC BY 2.0