With more than two-thirds of Americans considered overweight or obese, how to eat for weight loss is on the minds of many. As a result, there are always new fad diets and eating plans popping up promising to be “the solution” to weight management. Turning to a restrictive diet plan, however, does not have to be the answer. The truth about weight loss is that dividing our plates into sections and making simple changes to meal planning can be an easy way to start down the path to lifestyle change.
Half of the plate at meals should contain fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, a good source of fiber and have a high water content. If fruits and vegetables are compared to other food groups, such as starches, fats and proteins, they will provide a much larger volume per the same amount of calories. Most people have some source of fruits and/or vegetables at meals, but typically not half the plate. By simply shifting fruits and vegetables to a higher percentage of the meal, it will help fill up the plate with fiber and water, decreasing the overall calorie content of the meal.
One quarter of the plate should contain lean protein. Our bodies need protein for muscle maintenance, which is important when eating for weight loss. Often when losing weight, muscle mass is lost. When muscle mass is lost, metabolism slows down, which can slow or stall weight loss as a result. Most people only need about 3-4 ounces of lean protein at each meal, but often consume more than that. By monitoring the portion size more closely, it is possible to consume adequate protein while controlling calories. Focusing on lean sources of protein will also help keep calories in check. Lean proteins include 90/10 (or leaner) ground meats, cuts of beef or pork with the words “round” or “loin” in the name, fish, beans, reduced-fat cheese, and fat-free Greek yogurt.
The remaining 25% of the plate should be a whole grain or starch. Whole grains contain fiber, which promotes early satiety and prolonged feelings of fullness. It is OK to eat grains, starches, and carbohydrates, but having them fill only 25% of the plate is less than many are used to before learning how to eat for weight loss. Potatoes, corn and peas are also vegetables but their high starch content makes them better placed in this category.
Having a large glass of water present at every meal is also key. Water will help fill up the stomach, encouraging early feelings of fullness. Water is also calorie-free, a better choice than sugar-containing beverages. Often our brains confuse signals of hunger and thirst, and having water at meals and staying hydrated helps ensure that we do not overeat out of true feelings of dehydration.
50% fruits and vegetables, 25% lean proteins, and 25% high-fiber starch is the basic design of a balanced meal. Most people have all of these components in meals already, but not in those ratios. By simply shifting the components of some typical meals, calories can be decreased, water intake increased, and we can be on the road to a healthy lifestyle. The truth about weight loss is that it requires building long term, sustainable habits including a healthy diet.
This delicious Tuscan Lemon Chicken Sauté is the perfect solution. Make it easier on yourself; prep the veggies the night before. Once that is done, it will only take 25 minutes total for an easy weeknight dinner that you can incorporate into your meal plan.
All you need:
1 lb chicken breast tenders
¼ tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups bell pepper strips
1 cup zucchini and summer squash coins, cut in halves
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
All you do:
- Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken 5-8 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees F), turning occasionally. Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cook 1 minute. Add bell pepper strips, zucchini and summer squash. Cook 2 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add broth, lemon zest, lemon juice and Italian seasoning. Heat through. Stir in beans and cooked chicken tenders. Warm through.
Whether it is weight loss, weight gain or just overall better health, our Hy-Vee dietitian team can help you achieve what you need. We offer individual consultations, virtual nutrition tours of the grocery store, and so much more. Visit us here to learn more about how we can assist you, and register here on Healthie.
*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.