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Food Exchange List For Weight Loss

The Food Exchange List serves as a basis for a proper meal planning system that helps in weight loss and staying fit. Many dietitians and nutritionists use the food exchange list for meal planning, patient diet counselling, educating the patient with diabetes, for weight reduction and many other conditions. The list is compiled of groups having a similar nutrient content foods and each group is regarded with the same fixed value of caloric and major nutrient content, which may be substituted with any other food item on the same list. 
      In 1950, the US Food Exchange list was created by the group effort of American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association and the US Public Health Service to target meal planning problems. In history, the exchange list was only used for the meal planning of diabetic patients to control the blood sugar but the meal-planning methods are also helpful to promote the feeling of fullness by the help of foods that fill you up and can be useful to those people who want to lose weight. It’s about choosing the right and sensible variety food that make you feel full for the least amount of calories.

How Does Food Exchange System Work?

The food exchange list is categorised into three main groups; Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Further divided into groups of food are starches, vegetables, milk and milk products; meat and meat substitutes; fruits and fats. Food exchange system standardises the diet. 
      Firstly, count the daily caloric intake because calories count has a key role in weight loss. Upon working out to calculate your BMI and calorie allowances, you should then assess how much carbs you can take in your daily diet while counting calories and fats is much important for weight loss. Food exchange diet calculator is also used for the analysis of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in grams and calories.

Starch Exchange Food List

In the starch exchange list most of the calories come from carbohydrates which are a best source of energy. Most of the starches are also a good source of B vitamins. Choose a natural form of whole grains for weightloss because it tends to make us feel full and decreases our calorie intake.

15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of protein, 0-1 gram of fat, 0 kcal.

Food exchange
80 calories, Portion size
Small Chappati
1 (6 inches across)
1(4 inches across, 1/4 inch
English muffin
Bran cereal
½ cup
½ cup
Cooked pasta, macroni, noodles, spaghetti
½ cup
Cooked brown rice
1/3 cup
Sugar coated cereal
½ cup
Wheat bran
½ cup
Wild rice cooked
½ cup
½ cup
Small potato
1(3 oz)
Cooked beans, peas, lentils
½ cup
3 cups
Whole wheat crackers (without fat)
Graham crackers, 2 ½ in square
Animal crackers

Non starchy Vegetables

Vegetables are a best source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
5 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, 0 gram of fat, 25 kcal.

1 serving equal to: 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables ,1/2 cup of vegetable juice, 1 cup of raw vegetables.

Bean sprout
Brussels sprouts
Green onions, Green beans
Gourds (bitter, bottle, luffa)
Green salad
Pea pods
Water chestnuts

Milk and Milk Products

Milk and milk products provide calcium, protein, carbohydrates and other minerals. Low-fat and skimmed milk varieties should be chosen according to your health. They contain the same nutrients but provide less fat, calories and cholesterol as compared to whole milk products.

Skimmed Milk and Very Low Fat Milk

12 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of protein, 0-3 grams of fat, 90 kcal 
Food Exchange
Portion Size
Skimmed or non-fat milk (1/2 % and 1%)
1 cup
Fat-free milk
1 cup
Evaporated Fat Free or skimmed milk
½ cup
Low-fat fruit-flavoured yogurt without sugar
¾ cup
Fat-free dry milk powder
1/3 cup dry
Plain unflavoured yogurt
¾ cup

Low Fat Milk

12 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 120 kcal
Food Exchange
Portion Size
2% milk
1 cup
Evaporated whole milk
1/3 cup
Plain low-fat yogurt (added milk solids)
8 oz

Whole Milk

12 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 150 kcal 
Food Exchange
Portion Size
Whole Milk
1 cup
Evaporated whole milk
1/3 cup
Yogurt, plain (made from whole milk)
8 oz
Goat’s milk
1 cup

Meat and Meat Substitutes

Meat and meat substitutes are a great source of protein. Fish is a source of omega 3 fatty acid. 

Lean Meat

0 gram of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein , 0-3 grams of fat, 45 calories
Exchange list
Portion size
Cottage cheese
¼ cup
Beef, ground, steak, roast, tenderloin, (very lean cuts)
30 gram, 1 oz
1 oz
Egg substitutes
¼ cup
Shellfish - clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp
1 oz
Egg white

Medium Fats Meat

7 gram of protein, 5 gram of fat, 75 calories  
Exchange list
Portion Size
Beef, Lamb
1 oz
Fish, fried
30 gram

High Fat Meats

7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 100 calories 
Exchange list
Portion Size
Regular cheese, cheddar
30 gram
Peanut butter
1 tbsp
Beef, turkey, chicken or combination
1 (10 per pound sized package)


Fruits are great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

15 gram of carbohydrates, 0 gram of protein, 0 gram fat , 60 Calories.
Exchange list
Portion size
Apple, banana, orange, nectarine
1 Small
Fresh Peach
1 medium
4 whole
90 gram , 12
3 medium
17 , 90 gram
2 small
Pineapple (canned)
Pineapple (fresh)
Pear (Fresh) , Mango
Pear, canned (unsweetened)
½ cup
1 slice

Dried Fruit

7 Halves
3 Medium
Raisins, Blue berries
2 Tbsp
1 1/2

Fruits Juices

Exchange list
 Portion Size
Unsweetened juices (apple , pineapple , grapes, Orange)
½ cup
Fruit juice blends, 100% juice
1/3 cup
Cranberry juice cocktail
1/3 cup


Choosing Unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat is a good option for help to reduce blood cholesterol level and control your weight.

5 gram Fat, 45 calories
Exchange List
Portion Size
Oil (vegetable, corn, canola, olive
 1 tsp
Butter, Mayonnaise, Stick margarine
1 tsp
1 tbsp
Cream Cheese
Stuffed green olives
10 large
Nuts and seeds
1 tbsp

If you are interested in losing weight by using food exchange list, use the list given above  which is based upon the American Dietetic Association food exchange lists.


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