This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
What you eat is very important when trying to lose weight. There are a lot of possible ingredients for your lunch. Find out the best ones.
Lunch might be the hardest meal to stay on track with. For many people it’s the meal they eat outside of the house. This means you have to be prepared in advance.
Should you ever skip it?
You’ve probably heard about skipping breakfast or skipping dinner for weight loss. Is skipping lunch a good idea?
If you are able to get enough nutrients (protein, calories, micronutrients,..) at breakfast and dinner you could consider skipping out on lunch.
However, it’s just not as good as skipping breakfast or dinner. For most people it’s healthier to put the non-eating period of their day in one interval. This way you are fasted for longer.
Fasting can have all kinds of benefits for weight loss but it’s not for everyone. You might want to consult with your primary care provider before making any drastic changes in your lifestyle.
Keep this in mind
One thing the human mind does is overestimate what it’s capable of in the future.
When you get hungry, you don’t think as clear about food as when you’ve just eaten.
You want to think about what you will have for lunch before the hunger takes over your brain. The best time to think about it and plan for it would be right after a filling lunch.
What your lunch should do for you
There are a few things you want out of your weight loss lunch. When you know these things it becomes a lot easier to pick the right ingredients.
The first thing you want is feeling full for a while. Hunger is one of the common reasons people fail to stick to their weight loss routine. It can also really interfere with whatever you are doing that day, it really messes with your brain.
The second thing is providing you with valuable micronutrients. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to survive and thrive. These nutrients greatly influence your health and weight.
The third thing is helping you consume enough calories and protein. Yes, you read that right, enough. Not consuming enough calories each day can have reverse effects of your weight loss. The best times of the day to consume these calories are in the morning and at lunch.
At dinner your body wants a light meal so it can process it quickly to sleep well.
Foods with micronutrients
The first category of food you should focus on are foods with micronutrients, vitamins and minerals.
These are mainly foods like vegetables, nuts and seeds. Fruit can also provide you with some micronutrients but in most cases vegetables have higher levels.
Most vegetables and such can easily be consumed raw. If you don’t like them that way you will have to do a little more meal prepping.
These micronutrient heavy foods also contain a nice amount of fiber most of the time. The fiber is not only good for your health. It will also help you avoid hunger a lot.
If you’re looking to change only one thing in your lunch, adding more micronutrient dense foods might be priority number one.
Carbohydrate lunch foods for weight loss
The next category of foods you can add to your diet are foods that are mainly consumed for their carbohydrate content.
Do keep in mind that there still is a big difference between the different kinds of foods within this category.
Some people argue that it’s better to completely remove carbohydrate foods from your diet.
Good carbohydrate foods
Carbohydrate breakfast foods that are good for weight loss are mostly more “complex” carbohydrates.
Some examples are legumes, oats, quinoa, corn, whole grains, berries, fruit,…
These foods will probably be the biggest sources of calories in your diet. Make sure you don’t overdo it with these.
You could for example pre-prepare an oatmeal recipe.
The carbohydrate category also contains some of the worst foods for weight loss lunches. These set you up for a blood sugar and hunger rollercoaster throughout the day. Make sure you avoid these.
Some examples are donuts, muffins, white bread, fruit juices, salad dressings high in sugar…
Protein foods for weight loss
Protein is a great addition to every meal when trying to lose weight, this includes lunch. Do keep in mind that you can also have too much.
Protein will help you feel fuller, it will help your preserve and build muscle (which will help you burn more calories) and your body just needs enough protein to function.
The difference between health of foods within this category might not be as big as the carbohydrate category. However, some sources of protein are better for your health and weight than others.
Good protein foods
Some good sources of protein for weight loss are plant-based proteins, fish, greek yogurt, and some lean meat like fish or turkey every once in a while.
Eggs are also a great addition to your diet. They are high in important nutrients. Boiled eggs are fairly easy to bring with you if you’re not at home.
Again, the following protein sources are probably not as bad as sugar but you might want to consume them in moderation.
These “bad” protein sources are mainly red meats like bacon, sausages, pork,…
Fatty foods for weight loss
Fat used to be thought of something you need to stay away from to be healthy. However, there is an important difference between the different kinds of fat heavy foods.
Good fatty foods
Some examples of good food with fat content are olive oil, fish, nuts, nut oils,… and arguably coconut oil
The main type of fat you want to stay away from is trans fat. Some examples of foods that can contain this kind of fat are baked goods, refrigerated dough, fried foods, and margarine.
A second type of fat you may want to limit is saturated fat which may increase the risk on heart disease. Lunch ingredients that contain saturated fats are mostly fatty meat and something like butter.
What should you drink at lunch?
The best weight loss drinks for lunch are pretty simple.
Water, coffee and tea are good. The fluid from them will help you feel fuller and hydrate your body.
You can flavor your water with some low calorie fruits like for example lemon.
Stay away from basically everything else. Fruit juice, soda, even so called “vitamin water” can contain questionable amounts of calories and substances.
What should you eat for lunch to lose weight?
Every individual has different tastes, needs and habits.
If you exercise a lot you might want to increase your protein intake more than someone else. If you eat a salad at lunch you might need less vegetables in the morning. Some people need more calories than others.
What the ideal weight loss breakfast for you looks like is something you have to experiment with.
Keep in mind the guidelines from this article and you will see a lot of improvement. You will most likely end up with an awesome tasting salad with ingredients you love and help you lose weight.
If you eat the right weight loss lunch you should feel full until dinner. However if not, you can always snack on healthy foods to get you through the day.