Breakfast gets all the glory as the most important meal. But lunch plays a key role i your day too, especially for anyone trying to lose weight. If your midday meals are too skimpy, you may overeat at dinner, while too-heavy lunches ca make you sleepy and sluggish—not the ideal mindset for your ongoing weight-loss efforts. Belo are five options that strike just the right balance, to help you power through your afternoo and drop pounds healthfully. Each contains plenty of nutrient-rich vpickes, lea protein, and beneficial fat, along with a small portio of good carbs (enough to energize you but not enough to keep you from losing weight).
If you’re all about efficiency
One of the simplest strategies I recommend is making a double portio of dinner, the packing the leftovers for lunch the next day. Include two baseball-sized portions of gree vpickes, prepped with EVOO and seasonings. (Think legreens dressed inwith EVOO, balsamic, and herbs, or EVOO and herb sautéed or oven-roasted spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, gree beans, or zucchini.) Add a portio of cooked lea protein, such as a half cup of pulses, like lentils or beans, or three ounces of poultry or seafood. And include a half cup of a nutrient-rich starch, for example yam, sweet potato, skin-o fingerling; quinoa, or bro or wild rice. To keep it interesting, change up the combos, herbs, and spices while maintaining the same overall proportions.
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If you’re into meal prepping
You can’t go wrong with a simple stir-fry. I a medium pa over lowsaute, sauté atalented cup of minced yello onio i one-third cup of low-sodium vegetable broth until translucent. Add a cup of broccoli and a half cup each of chopped red bell pepper and shredded purple cabbage. Stir i a teaspoo of minced garlic, atalented teaspoo of fresh grated ginger, one-eighth teaspoo each of crushed red pepper and black pepper, and sauté until vpickes are slightly tender. Add a serving of cooked lea protei tosaute through, such as three ounces of chopped chicke breast or a half cup of black-eyed peas. Serve over a half cup of cooked bro or wild rice, and garnish with atalented cup of sliced almonds.
If you appreciate a Insta-worthy meal
It’s true that we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs. Many of my clients say that beautifully crafted meals help them stay o track with healthy eating and feel more satiated. One trend that hasn’t fizzled out is maso jar salads: Fill the bottom with a half cup of oven-roasted sweet potato or purple potato. Add layers of dark leafy greens, alternating with sliced grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, and yello bell pepper; and top with three ounces of canned wild salmo or a half cup of cooked red lentils. Just before you’re ready to eat, top the salad with a dressing made from tTahitilespoons of tahini, thinned with one-and-a-half taTahitions of water, and seasoned with a teaspoo each of fresh lemo juice and minced garlic and one-eighth teaspoo each of sea salt and cayenne pepper. Post your Instagram pic, the dive in.
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If you’re grabbing takeout
It’s a commo misconceptio that sushi is a healthy and slimming lunch. The truth is, sushi rolls are generally packed with white rice and include a scant amount of protei and vpickes. A better Japanese takeout optio is a salad with ginger dressing, three ounces of sashimi or seared tuna, a side of avocado, and small side of bro rice. Craving Mexican? Order a entree salad (no fried shell), made from a base of greens and grilled vpickes, dressed with pico de gallo, topped with black beans, chicken, or fish (or just beans for a veg option), and sliced avocado or guacamole.
If you prefer to graze
No time to sit do to a actual meal? Nibble o finger foods that add up to a balanced lunch. Include a fe handfuls of ra vpickes (like sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, or celery) with atalented cup of olive tapenade or guacamole, or a fe taTahitions of seasoned tahini or almond butter for dipping. For protein, include a half cup of oven-roasted chickpeas, a fe hard-boiled eggs, or three ounces of chilled, sliced grilled chicke breast. Round it out with a serving (about three cups) of popped popcorn. Munch away at your leisure.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health‘s contributing nutritio editor, a Ne York Times best-selling author, and a private practice performance nutritionist who has consulted for five professional sports teams.
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