It’s now March, and we can no longer deny that summer and pool season in L.A. are right around the corner. That being said, it’s also pretty cold (for us) so it’s hard to fully commit to the summer diet again. So what’s the solution? Transitional treats! I have a bunch of go to’s that I share year round with my clients who have sweet or salty cravings to deal with. The key is to play the calories in/calories out game, so I also am going to recommend my favorite food tracking app and talk a bit about how to use it to your best advantage. Warning: You will no longer be able to lie to yourself that “oh I eat pretty healthy” once you start using the app.

My personal disclaimer before I make todays junk food substitute recommendations : The long term goal is to be eating a whole foods diet and seriously restrict or eliminate processed foods. That being said, this is America…. home of (and birthplace to) some of the most addictive processed foods on the planet, so we will start by substituting.

Sweet Tooth

I have a major sweet tooth from being raised on cereal, slurps and cake, so I get it. I have some pretty good substitutes for ice cream and cookie cravings.

getting fit with monteHolo Top ice cream … you’re welcome! If you tried it a few years ago when it first came out but were unimpressed you may want to revisit. What started out as a few basic flavors has grown to 25 regular flavors and 14 non-dairy flavors. The magic of Halo Top is that it’s the best product to mimic regular ice cream while also being low in calories, low in sugar, high in protein and high in flavor. A whole pint averages around 300 calories, 20 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein.

Power Crunch bars are an excellent mimic of the wafer cookies I would eat as a kid. Power Crunch bars are light, flaky and a bit magical at only five grams of sugar and pack 14 grams of protein. My favorite flavors are Salted Caramel and Red Velvet, but they have a wide selection.

Bars are the closest thing to a candy bar in my opinion and, I will paint a picture with my favorite flavor, which is Almond Fudge Brownie — nougat like center, peanuts and soft chocolate in the middle layer and crisp chocolate candy shell with eight grams of sugar and 30 grams of protein equal… MAGIC!


Popchips, Popcorners, any kind of baked chip is better than regular potato chips. They are all baked, so the big win is less fat from less oil, so that’s great. This trick I think most people know, so I will leave it there. Let’s get into a real game changer!

My Fitness Pal

MyFitnessPal  is my favorite app for my clients to use for food tracking. It’s really easy as it scans barcodes, or you can type in just about any meal from a restaurant. You also can create recipes; it calculates the calories and macronutrients. Many of us eat a lot of the same foods on a daily basis, so after about a week you can just tap the food from history and add it for that day.

The great thing about this app is that by recording what you are eating, you can see where you might have been fooling yourself with “healthy choices.” You can see that in the actual calories that are logged and also on the nutrition page, which makes it much easier to see your macronutrient ratio. When I first started years ago (even as a trainer), I began to realize how much fat I was taking in by grabbing nuts as a snack on the go. I changed that habit and immediately saw results by dropping weight. Another benefit is that you can share your food log with a friend so you can create accountability if you need that.

Monte Cox

About The Author:

Monte Cox is a NASM certified personal trainer with three advanced certifications working with private clients and small groups in West Hollywood and Los Angeles. He specializes in adapting advanced training techniques specific to each individual clients needs and assists with personalized eating plans to achieve goals. He can be seen weekly hosting the only gay focused sports TV show, "Weho Sports Show," on Time Warner/ Spectrum. For inquiries or more information please visit

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