Women’s Weight Loss 101: Munch on salad all day.
If only it really were. Unfortunately, lettuce loading doesn’t always work. This is hardly news to thousands of women still drop-kicking their unmoving bathroom scales, despite several months of lack-luster leafy lunches and iceberg bulging salad suppers. In fact – horror of horrors – some people even wind up heavier since starting their mesclun meal plan.
This is because a salad based weight-loss diet isn’t just a matter of munching mindlessly on vegetables; constructing a healthy salad that will successfully trigger women’s weight loss is a science that involves using the right ingredients in the right amounts and right combinations. It also depends on avoiding the wrong ingredients – sadly, the ones that most store-bought salads, salad dressings, and popular salad add-ons contain – in the wrong amounts and combinations.
Check out these simple rules of slimming salad science, and learn how to build a wide variety of mouth-watering and waist-wilting salads for any meal of the day.
- Start with a Foundation of Foliage. Iceberg lettuce may be low in calories, but it’s also low in fiber, which is why you’ll often find that you’re still starving after you’ve eaten it. Instead of iceberg lettuce or romaine, choose a dark green leafy vegetable for your salad base. Dark leafy greens are just as low in calories, but contain more nutrients and fiber, filling you up faster and with more nourishing, weight-busting components. For a good single-serving lunch or dinner salad, choose 2 to 3 cups of kale, Swiss chard, spring greens, arugula, beet greens, dandelion greens, spinach, mesclun greens, etc.
- Create a Veggie Rainbow. Next, top your greens with vegetables that are high in fiber and water while super low in calories. The color of a veggie indicates what kind of nutrients it contains, so the easiest way to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need while also creating a beautiful plate of eye- (and mouth-) candy is to include as many colors of the rainbow in your salad as you can manage. Choose from red bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, shredded carrots, steamed cubes of squash, celery, snap peas, cucumbers, steamed broccoli, sprouts, purple cabbage, onion, steamed gold or purple beets, etc. Adding some fruit is also an excellent way to liven up the nutrient color palette while adding a naturally sweet flavor contrast to the salad. Try fresh berries, pomegranate seeds, pear or apple matchsticks, orange slices, mango or papaya cubes.
- Include Protein. If you want to make your pound-purging salad into an entire meal on its own, rather than just an appetizer or side dish, be sure to include one to two sources of lean protein. A salad without protein often leaves you feeling more hungry and less satisfied than when you started, leading to craving and overeating later on. Protein encourages weight loss by helping to build muscle, speed up metabolism, keep your blood sugar and hormones balanced, and curb carb cravings. Choose a hard-boiled egg, 3 ounces of skinless chicken or turkey, lean sirloin steak strips, wild salmon, a drained can of water-packed tuna, or two tablespoons of crumbled feta, goat cheese, brie, mozzarella, sharp cheddar or parmesan. You can also add vegetable protein to your salad with half cup of kidney beans, chick peas, black beans, aduki beans, pinto beans, green wax beans or GMO-free tofu cubes or edamame.
- Don’t Forget the Fat. One of the biggest mistakes when building a fat-burning salad: not adding any fat to it. Research shows that adding some healthy fat to your meal not only helps you burn belly fat, but it also helps you significantly lower your chances of heart disease while improving your brain function, nervous system, skin and eye health, hormones and mood balance. Some fat is also necessary to absorb other nutrients in your salad. The key is to make sure that it’s a healthy source of fat. One ounce of avocado can add a delicious creaminess to your salad. You can also add some crunch with 1 tablespoon of almond slivers, chopped walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds. Creating your own salad dressing is also a great way to make sure that your salad contains a healthy source of fat, such as cold pressed extra- virgin olive oil, unrefined flax seed oil or sesame oil, unrefined walnut oil or hemp oil.
Think Twice about Toppers. Innocent attempts to add a dash of extra crunch, saltiness or sweetness to salads are where our best efforts to drop pounds can get blasted, with bacon bits, candied nuts, crushed taco chips, refined croutons, ramen noodles, sweetened cranrainsin, and other popular fatty, high sodium, sweetened and processed salad toppers. These types of salad toppers topple over our very best weight loss efforts. Instead, add crunch with raw nuts, seeds, water chestnuts, crushed whole grain crackers or home-made whole grain croutons. Soup up the salt factor with one teaspoon of crumbled crispy seaweed, broken kale chips, sea salted edamame, roasted crunchy chickpeas or smoky Spanish-spiced nuts. Or sweeten salads with one teaspoon of unsweetened dried fruit, like raisins, chopped dates, prunes or figs.
- Dressing Your Salad vs. DROWNING Your Salad. Herein lies the slimming salad’s ultimate demise. Drowning a healthy plate of salad in a dressing full of fat, sweetener, additives and preservatives turns a beautiful plate of fat-burning vegetables into an ugly flab-forming vegetable stew. And don’t be fooled by store-bought low-fat dressings either; these dressings may have less fat, but they have even more sweeteners and additives added, that research has shown to drive up cravings, encourage fat storage and contribute to weight gain and obesity. Making home-made salad dressings can help you ensure that your salad dressings enhance – rather than destroy – the fat blasting powers of your salad. Use raw, unrefined, unsaturated oils for your salad dressing base, like extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, hemp oil, unrefined sesame oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil. Balance it with balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, wine vinegars, lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice. Season with tamari, Dijon mustard, anchovy paste, chili paste, minced garlic or ginger, and add in various fresh or dried herbs. Instead of using sugar or artificial sweeteners, you can sweeten your dressing with one teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, unsweetened fruit juice or stevia. If you like your dressings creamy, add one tablespoon of mashed avocado, tahini (sesame paste), nut butter, seed butter, hummus, silken tofu or plain yogurt.
Use these rules to construct an endless variety of delicious weight loss salads that actually help you burn fat and trigger pure weight loss while keeping you healthy, nourished and satisfied. Get started with this mouth-watering Thai Peanut-Ginger Dinner Salad for lunch or dinner today.