How to Properly Build Salads When on a Diet

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Salads can be a very effective tool when it comes to losing weight, however it is also very easy to take a healthy salad and turn it in to something completely unhealthy by only adding a few ingredients.

Most people look to salads to help them control their weight and reach their weight loss goals, but it is easy to get half of your caloric needs for the entire day from just one salad, so make you know how to approach this meal to make it work best in your favor.

Here are some simple rules to abide by when trying to incorporate a healthy salad regularly in to your meal plan:

1- Make Sure Your Salad Is Full of Color

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Generally speaking, when it comes to foods the more rich the color, the more nutrient dense the food is. Things like iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and other foods light in color are generally foods you want to stay away from.

There are some exceptions to this rule such as cauliflower, onions, and turnips, which are all potential ingredients you can add to a healthy salad.

Iceberg lettuce certainly isn’t going to hurt you and is full of healthy fiber, but outside of fiber and water it doesn’t bring much to the table.

Another thing you want to keep in mind is to get a lot of variation as far as food diversity is concerned in your salads. Most people think of salads as being predominantly green, but you want to make it as colorful as possible to have the best nutritional balance.

For example, spinach is a healthy vegetable that should frankly be a part of every salad, however the salad should consist of just spinach itself. Spinach does lack some nutrients like vitamin C, so make sure to add plenty of red or yellow bell peppers to round the salad off.

2- Limit Your Toppings to Two or Fewer  Non-Vegetables

preview-full-shutterstock_372226354One of the main benefits of a salad when it comes to weight loss is that it contains all the nutrients you need but contains little calories as well. This is mainly because of the high presence of vegetables in salads, which are nutrient dense yet light in calories. The fiber within these vegetables help to fill you up while not weighing you down.

Most of the calories from salads come from seeds, nuts and berries, so try to limit how much of these you add to your salads. The same thing goes for extra cheese topping or meats, you want to limit yourself on these as well.

Stick to foods like walnuts, cranberries, raisins, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apple slices and the like. Try to limit yourself here, as the more you add, the more calories you will be consuming.

3- Make Sure You Are Not Choosing an Unhealthy Dressing

If there is one ingredient that can kill a salad, it is the dressing. Many dressings have hundreds of calories alone which can turn this healthy meal in to one you would be better off avoiding.

Avoid dressings loaded with cheese or fat, steer clear of blue cheese dressing, french dressing and similar types. Ideally you want to choose oil and vinegar, or other oil based dressings to keep the calories low.

Watch out for additional sugars as well which are common in many dressings.

4- Eat Your Salad with a Protein to Fill You Up

If there’s one thing your salad is lacking its calories in the form of protein. Protein is proven to keep you feeling full and satiated, so if you are struggling to keep full when eating salads, throw a protein in the mix.

Make sure when doing so that you are choosing lean healthy proteins as to maintain a proper diet. Grilled chicken, turkey, salmon, lean beef are all good options when considering adding a protein to your salad. Hard boiled eggs are another common choice, and are typically found in chef’s salads.

Ideally you want to first eat the salad to make sure you are first and foremost filling up on these low calories foods, and if you still feel hungry, finish it off with a piece of steak, chicken or other lean protein.

Pretty much anyone can abide by these guidelines to maintain a healthy diet, by including salads to their meal plan. Just make sure to keep the calories low and the nutrient levels high by sticking mainly to low calorie, nutrient dense vegetables with the occasional nut and berry thrown in here and there.