Are you trying to lose weight? If so, you might consider eating salads for the next month. While it sounds restrictive, it can actually work – and be healthy.
Here’s the thing: Salads are extremely versatile meals. Sadly, they have a reputation of having nothing more than lettuce, tomato, and maybe some carrots. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
To set yourself up for success, eat salads with all the major food groups. Include the essential macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and keep it low in calories. It’s the best way to support your body through weight loss.
Obviously, eating is just half the game. Exercise is an absolute must if you want to lose weight. You’ll need to eat less calories than you are using,1 which is where well-rounded salads comes in. Here’s how to do it.
The Healthiest Way To Lose Weight By Eating Salad
1. Choose Dark Leafy Greens
Iceberg lettuce is so yesterday. It’s mostly made of water – 94.9 percent, to be exact.2 Your salad can do so much better.
Opt for dark leafy greens instead. They’re richer in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and calcium. Most importantly, dark greens contain fiber which will keep you full.
Examples include spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. If you still want to use lettuce, go for Romaine.3 It’s a lot healthier than iceberg.
For a main dish, use 2 to 3 cups per salad.
2. Add Protein
Don’t forget to add protein. As a major macronutrient, you need it to stay healthy. It’s even more necessary if you’re trying to lose weight.
Like fiber, protein increases satiety. It keeps you full for a long time, so you don’t feel famished later on. This prevents binge eating and keeps you on track.
Protein is a must if you’re going to stick to salads. How else will you feel satisfied? Low-calorie, high-protein choices are the best bet.
Try skinless chicken, salmon, hard-boiled eggs, or low-fat cottage cheese. Vegetable options include beans, chickpeas, and lentils.4 Quinoa, a high-protein whole grain, also contains fiber and iron. It even has heart-healthy fats and is easy to cook, making it a smart choice for dieters.5
3. Boost Flavor
To make salads more appealing, add tasty toppings. However, it’s crucial to choose wisely. The wrong ingredients will damage the quality of your salad.
Steer clear of creamy dressings like ranch or Thousand Island. Many are full of sodium, fat, and more sodium! Instead, add simple condiments such as oil and vinegar or lemon juice. You can even make a flavorful dressing with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and honey.6
To use creamy dressings, dip your fork into dressing before loading up on salad. This trick will satisfy your craving without the extra calories.
Be mindful of regular-fat cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and jack. Use very little or low-fat options. Cheeses with strong flavors, like feta and parmesan, will make a difference in small amounts.
Love croutons? Swap them out for unsalted nuts like almonds or walnuts. Spices like rosemary and black pepper can also add flavor without calories.
Losing weight depends on burning more calories than you eat. Salads are just the beginning! You’ll also need to adopt a regular exercise routine.
Each week, adults should get 2 and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity. That equals out to 22 minutes a day or 50 minutes three times a week. Ideas include walking, jogging, or dancing.
According to a 2011 article in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, many people think that healthy food “negates” the calories from unhealthy food – but it’s not true.9 Salads are not an excuse to overindulge, so don’t fall into that trap.
|↑1, ↑7||Finding a Balance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Lettuce. University of Illinois Extension.|
|↑3||The Health Benefits of Dark Leafy Green Vegetables. University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture.|
|↑4||Protein. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑5||Healthy food trends – quinoa. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Healthier Condiments. American Heart Association.|
|↑8||Muscle cells vs. fat cells. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑9||Chernev, Alexander. “The dieter’s paradox.” Journal of Consumer Psychology 21, no. 2 (2011): 178-183.|