What Should I Eat For Lunch To Lose Weight? Whether you are a busy schedule executive or working housewife, lunch becomes a necessity to make your day productive. It not only breaks your routine of meals but also is an opportunity to fulfill nutritional requirements. But this meal can become a fatal weapon if you have excess weight problem.
Do certain foods aid weight loss?
Most trendy diets include some sort of restriction — like cutting out carbohydrates, fats or dairy products — which makes the diets hard to sustain. Typically, once you stop following the diet’s restrictions, the weight comes right back.
“However, if you focus on adding more nutritious foods to your meals, as opposed to restricting foods, you’ll be more likely to lose weight and keep it off,” advises Zumpano. “You won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself, so you’ll be more likely to maintain healthy eating habits.”
And, if you concentrate on incorporating a certain amount of healthy food into your meals every day — like aiming for between seven and nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables — you may find that you’ll naturally limit the not-so-healthy choices.
Foods you should incorporate in your weight loss plan
Eat these foods to lose weight and to improve your health in general.
Beyond being a great option for smoothies or a snack, fruits are jam-packed with many different vitamins and antioxidants.
Opt for fruits like apples, blueberries, bananas, oranges, strawberries and pineapple.
“Fruit can be high in natural sugar and carbohydrate, but portion control is key,” says Zumpano. “A serving of fruit is about 4 ounces or just under 1 cup of fruit. Fruit can satisfy that sweet tooth without any added sugar or cravings.”
Turn to veggies like spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas and cauliflower, which are full of fiber.
That fiber expands in your stomach making you feel full so you can cut back on your main course portions to accommodate the extra calories.
“Keep in mind that vegetables are the lowest calorie food group, providing an average of 25 calories per serving, while the majority of the carbs in fruit are in the form of fiber, which isn’t digested or absorbed therefore it’s eliminated in the form of waste,” notes Zumpano. “Vegetables are considered a free food, meaning you can eat unlimited amounts and still lose weight.”
Rules to Follow for Healthy Lunches
Whether you want to eat lunches to lose weight or not, it’s important that your meals are nutritious and have a balance of macronutrients.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to eating healthy lunches.
Cut down on processed foods
There’s nothing wrong with eating processed foods once in a while but for optimum health, it’s best prioritise unprocessed foods if you can. This means choosing to fill half your plate with vegetables and wholegrains for the majority of your lunches.
Cover all your macronutrients
Ensure that you have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats on your plate.
As each of these macros perform a different role in your body, having a bit of each for your lunch will mean optimal results for your health.
Protein, which is the building blocks for muscle, will help you recover from workouts and rebuild your muscle so you can improve your size and strength. For the average adult, you should allocate 10-35% of your total energy intake. This means that if your total energy intake is 2000 calories, you need a minimum of 200 of those calories to come from protein.
Carbohydrates are what gives us energy so you’ll be able to get through the rest of your day or workout. Healthy fats keep you satiated for longer, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. 45-65 percent of your total calories should be carbohydrates while fats should be 20-35 percent.
Include fiber in your meals
Another component that you should consider when choosing what to eat for lunch is fiber content.
Fiber helps maintain your digestive system. It not only regulates bowel movements but your blood sugar levels as well, assisting in avoiding insulin spikes, which can cause energy highs and lows.
In addition, it also assists with satiety so you’ll feel full much sooner in your meal as well as long after.
Plant-based lunches for weight loss
Plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, are full of fiber and beneficial nutrients. They tend to be filling, and many of them are lower in calories than certain animal products and highly processed foods.
Thus, plant-based diets like vegan or vegetarian diets have been associated with weight loss in some people.
1. Lentil soup
Soups are an ideal plant-based lunch option, as you can make them ahead of time and reheat them for a quick meal.
This lentil soup recipe is a complete meal in one bowl. It’s loaded with ingredients that are good to eat when you’re trying to lose weight.
Lentils provide filling protein and carbs while the veggies contribute additional fiber. Plus, lentils are a good source of iron, an important nutrient for blood health that some plant-based eaters may lack in their diets.
2. Garden veggie chickpea salad sandwiches
Chickpeas are a versatile vegetarian protein. Some research suggests that chickpeas aid weight management, likely due to the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and variety of beneficial compounds they contain.
The texture of chickpeas makes them very easy to smash with a fork to create a chickpea “salad” filling for sandwiches — the perfect lunch food.
This recipe for garden veggie chickpea salad sandwiches is a delicious lunch option if you’re trying to lose weight and eat a plant-based diet. If you follow a vegan diet, swap out the mayo for a vegan substitute.
3. Spicy peanut tofu Buddha bowls
Tofu is a soy-based complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need to get from foods. It’s also a source of isoflavones, which are compounds that may protect against heart disease.
Some people shy away from tofu if they don’t know how to cook it or don’t like the texture, but preparing tofu that’s crispy and delicious is easy to do at home.
Try these tofu Buddha bowls for lunch. They’re made with crispy tofu, brown rice, veggies, and a spicy peanut dressing.
4. Veggie wraps
A healthy wrap is a great lunch choice, especially if you need something that you can make ahead of time to eat at your desk or in between meetings.
Fortunately, it’s really easy to make plant-based wraps. To ensure that they’re filling, delicious, and help you lose weight, choose whole wheat wraps (or use lettuce) and add a protein source, healthy sauce or spread, and plenty of vegetables.
This veggie wraps recipe uses whole wheat tortillas, hummus, carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies. The edamame and hummus provide protein, while the avocado contributes healthy fats that help you feel full.
5. Quinoa and black bean stuffed sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes make a great base for plant-based lunches. They provide energizing carbs, plenty of fiber, and the pigment beta carotene, which can help you meet your needs for vitamin A to help support your immune system.
Plus, stuffed sweet potatoes can be packed up to enjoy at the office or put together quickly if you work from home. Bake the sweet potatoes and prep the filling in advance, then store them in containers in the fridge. Assemble the potatoes and reheat them when you’re ready to eat.
This recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes uses Southwest seasonings and offers tips for vegan topping alternatives if needed.
Low carb lunches for weight loss
Many people find that a low carb or keto diet helps them lose weight. This style of eating involves limiting high carb foods and increasing your intake of fats and proteins.
Some research backs the potential role of low carb eating to help you lose weight, suggesting that limiting your carb intake may improve your blood sugar regulation in a way that promotes weight loss.
That said, these diets may also lead to weight regain when discontinued. Also, high carb, fiber-containing whole grains may help keep you feeling fuller for longer, so a lack of carbs at lunch may cause you to feel unsatisfied soon after meals.
Cauliflower rice bowls
Replacing regular rice with cauliflower rice is one way to cut back on your carb intake at lunchtime, especially if you eat burrito bowls or other dishes that typically contain rice.
Using cauliflower not only lowers the carb content of the meal but also provides a ton of vitamin C. This water-soluble nutrient is important for skin health, wound healing, and many other body functions.
Tuna egg salad stuffed peppers
Tuna and eggs are two affordable, high protein foods that will keep you full long after lunch.
In fact, eating eggs instead of a higher carb meal may help reduce hunger and the number of calories you consume later in the day, which can help promote weight loss.
While egg and tuna salads are usually served on bread, you can stuff them into bell peppers for a low carb meal instead. Check out this easy recipe for tuna egg salad stuffed bell peppers.
Zucchini noodle stir-fry with chicken
This zucchini noodle stir-fry is a delicious choice to make for lunch if you’re watching your carb intake and trying to lose weight.
Zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” resemble regular noodles but are lower in carbs. The zucchini packs fiber and micronutrients, while the chicken contributes protein to this dish.
Chicken is an excellent lean protein to eat when you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, eating chicken with a vegetable-rich diet is linked to a reduced risk of developing overweight and obesity.
Low carb eggplant pizza
Eating more non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, often helps people lose weight. Eggplant is low in calories but high in fiber.
Using it in place of pizza crust is a great way to enjoy the flavors of pizza without consuming too many refined carbs at lunch.
Good plant-based, low carb options can be hard to find, as low carb eating often includes animal products — another great reason to keep this recipe on hand.
If you work from home or have a little time for lunch meal prep, give this easy recipe for low carb eggplant pizza a try. The recipe provides options to add more protein if you’d like.
Mediterranean Cobb salad
Cobb salads typically include lettuce, bacon, eggs, avocados, and a creamy dressing. They’re very filling and low in carbs, making them a good lunch option for weight loss.
This Mediterranean-inspired Cobb salad is heavy on the veggies and uses a homemade yogurt dressing instead of mayo-based dressing or store-bought ranch.
Plus, many of the ingredients offer health benefits. Eggs are rich in protein and antioxidant compounds that promote eye health, while avocados and tomatoes contribute a boost of heart-healthy nutrients like unsaturated fats and lycopene
Best Lunch Habits to Drop 10 Pounds
Repurpose What You Have
Your favorite healthy dinner recipe can easily turn into tomorrow’s noontime meal. “If I brown bag it, often I’ll take whatever leftovers I have from the night before and wrap it up over a bed of greens (I buy the boxed organic spinach or arugula— it’s easy, fast and washed!),” Amy Shapiro, RD, CDN of RealNutritionNYC, explains in What 11 Diet Experts Eat for Lunch. She recommends throwing in some quinoa or brown rice if you have any left over.
Using your lunch hour to make new friends will not only help your social life; it may also boost your weight loss efforts. A study published in Physiology and Behavior shows that while socializing during a meal can cause an increase in food consumption, eating with strangers does not. Take this research as a sign that it’s time to branch out from your standard lunch crew and catch up with some coworkers you’re less familiar with.
Choose Green Tea
If you think Coke pairs perfectly with your salad or sandwich, think again. Instead of tacking on plenty of empty calories and sugar, pair your healthy lunch with a beverage that is equally beneficial. In 18 Lunch Rituals to Help You Lose Weight, we named green tea as a great weight-loss beverage, thanks to its metabolism-boosting catechins and caffeine, which will act as the perfect midday pick-me-up.
Starting your meal with a salad will add fiber and antioxidants to your diet and decrease your overall calorie consumption, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. Research shows that subjects who ate a salad before their main course consumed fewer calories than those who enjoyed their greens with their meal. The salad first group also drank more water, a huge plus considering H2O’s metabolism-boosting potential.
Skeptical of water’s calorie-burning capabilities? Check out why we named hydration as one of the 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
Mix it Up
You’re bound to get sick of your healthy lunch staple sooner or later. Instead of struggling to fight off midday hamburger cravings, keep some creative afternoon meal ideas in mind. If you’re drawing a blank on appetizing recipes, check out our list of 73 Healthy Lunch Ideas That Aren’t Salad.
You might think of brunch as a weekend-only affair, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy some healthy breakfast foods in the afternoon. In fact, Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, shared in What 11 Diet Experts Eat for Lunch that her favorite midday meal is a vegetable omelet with a side salad. Some of her go-to vegetables to toss in are mushrooms, spinach, and onions.
Don’t Under Eat
Yes, maintaining a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss, but skimping on lunch will not do your diet any favors. A satiating mid-day meal will help you power through the rest of the day and resist cravings, so don’t be afraid to eat a full, balanced plate of food. “Include adequate protein and healthy fats like walnuts or avocado to boost satiety,” Moore says. “Instead of an all-vegetable salad try a bed of salad greens with grilled salmon, snap peas, and walnuts for crunch, and an olive oil vinaigrette for a more satisfying meal,” she recommends.
Nix Liquid Lunches
Blended beverages such as protein shakes can be a healthy way to pack in nutrients, but they will not fill you up the same way a proper meal will. “Skip the smoothie shop,” Moore says—drinking your meal will not keep you as satisfied. “That empty feeling may lead you back to the vending machine,” she says.
Go on (Healthy) Autopilot
If going home and cooking a nutritious lunch is impossible for you, you’re not alone. Instead of throwing in the towel and ordering something decadent, have a plan for what you’ll eat once noon strikes. “Having a healthy lunch in the fridge or identifying your go-to restaurant for healthy meals can help you achieve your goals,” according to Moore. She recommends filling half of your plate or bowl with vegetables and rounding out your meal with protein, a healthy carbohydrate, and a drizzle of a heart-healthy fat.
Say No to a Carb-Fest
A pasta feast will not only hurt your dieting efforts; it may harm your productivity for the rest of the day, too. Shapiro cautions that a high-carbohydrate meal will cause you to feel sluggish and ready for a nap. “Eat until you are satisfied, NOT full,” Shapiro says, so that you can avoid that food coma feeling and stay productive throughout the afternoon.