You want to lose weight- so what is your go-to meal? Salads. Full of veggies, low on starchy carbs, and toss in a little bit of lean protein and you have a low calorie delicious meal made in weight loss heaven, no?
Most people trying to lose weight, or those trying not to consume their daily allowance in one sitting, will automatically order a salad when they go to a restaurant, feeling like it’s the only safe bet. More often than not, those salads contain the same amount of calories as a burger. Seems like a waste.
Just because you throw a bunch of crap on top of a bed of lettuce, doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for you. To get the most (and the least) from your salads, listen up:
• Choose nutrient-rich dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, romaine, and endive over iceberg lettuce which offers little nutritional value. It’s pretty much water,m which is low in calories, but doesn’t nothing for your health.
• Fill up with tons of veggies like cucumbers, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes. The brighter the colors, the more nutrient packed the veggie is so look for deep greens, bright reds, yellows and everything in between.
• Add a little lean protein to keep you fuller longer. Opt for beans, lean meat, turkey, and tuna over fatty meats like ham, pepperoni, salami and definitely anything deep fried.
• All salads are not created equal. Pasta salad, potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and macaroni salad are loaded with fatty mayo and oils. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say that, but there it is, just in case.
• Skip extras like croutons, crackers, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheeses, and go easy on healthy, but calorie dense extras, like nuts and seeds. These little additions can easily add hundreds of calories to you salad.
• Dressing is probably the easiest way to undo a healthy salad. Choose low fat or fat free dressing, oil based dressings, or just a little vinegar. Always put dressing on the side and dip each bite so you control how much you use.
• Add some sweet with fruits. They are great on the side, or try interesting combinations on top of your salad, like pineapples, blueberries, orange segments or strawberries.
Fast food salads are pre-made and rarely give you the option of choosing your toppings. However, they usually give you the topping in individual packets so you can choose what you put on. Skip crunchy noodles or croutons, bacon and cheese. Always ask for the low fat or fat free dressing choice, even if it isn’t the dressing that comes with your order- most places will accommodate.
Never order an already designed salad for you at a restaurant. Make substitutions and eliminations. Their job is to make it taste good, not to ensure you can button your goal jeans, so be your own watch dog.
Salads can be your be your best friend, or your worst diet enemy. Make smart choices with what you load onto your lettuce.
Kelly Turner is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and health and fitness writer from Seattle, WA. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, and she currently blogs for Breathe Magazine, Kidglue.com is the Health and Fitness Expert for Twirlit.com and feature fitness writer for FitPeeps.com. To contact Kelly with any questions, you email her at email@example.com.