When it comes to losing weight, exercise is important, but calorie reduction is what really helps you drop those extra pounds.

Complete diet makeovers can be overwhelming, but small changes can make a big difference. There isn’t always time to meal prep, and sometimes grabbing lunch on the go is the only option. But that’s not an excuse to go overboard at the drive through. Here are some suggestions to keep your calories down when you’re eating on the run.

Ditch the tortillas

The tortilla covering your burrito or salad wrap is loaded with lard, processed flour and salt. It can add up to 300 additional calories to your meal. Opt for a bowl of greens instead. When you are eating a much healthier meal, you will end up feeling much better throughout the week. You will be more energized and much more likely to stick to your exercise plan that day.

Go (single serving) protein style

Ordering double meat is no doubt a delicious treat at your favorite burger joint, but stacking that protein can add up to a whopping 670 calories. Adding fries will make your caloric intake climb even higher — 395 calories higher. A 195-calorie fountain soda can end up rounding the meal out to a total 1,260 calories.

Skip the bun. It can save you almost 150 calories. Opt for water instead of soda. And try not to send your calorie counter into the red by ordering fries. If you can’t resist the fries, just remember to take into account how many more minutes on the treadmill it will take to burn them off.

Don’t assume the chicken sandwich is your best option

Many people think fast food chicken sandwiches are the best choice. But that’s not always the case! Check out the fast food menu before you make any snap decisions. You may be surprised to find calories hiding in seemingly healthy choices. Skipping the condiments can also help reduce the calories on any sandwich. A tablespoon of ranch (found on many chicken sandwiches) is a whopping 73 calories.

If you’re curious as to what other foods can be beneficial for you, reach out to your primary care physician for advice. If you are in the Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge or the surrounding Foothill communities, and you are looking for exceptional care from a community hospital that cares, schedule your appointment by calling (818) 790-7100.

By Leonard Kim and Lisa Loeffler