How to Meal-Prep for a Week of Lunches to Help You Lose Belly Fat
While belly fat may make it feel like your favorite jeans are a little tight, the bigger concern is the link between excess visceral fat (the fat stored in the abdomen that surrounds your vital organs) and a higher risk for certain diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While there is no cure-all diet that targets belly fat specifically, there are a number of foods that have been shown to help trim your midsection, like avocados, eggs and chickpeas.
Read More: 7-Day Flat-Belly Meal Plan
Meal-prepping your meals in advance, like meal-prepping a week of healthy lunches you can take on the go, can seriously help you get in more of those belly-fat-burning foods consistently throughout the week. Not to mention, planning and preparing meals in advance saves you time and guarantees you'll have a healthy meal at the ready when hunger strikes. Here are our best tips for building flat-belly lunches, plus three delicious flat-belly meal-prep lunch recipes to make on your own for the busy workweeks.
Tips for Building Lunches to Lose Belly Fat
Follow these simple tips to build flat-belly lunches for every week.
1. Incorporate belly-fat-burning foods
There are a number of foods that have been shown to help reduce belly fat, including eggs, artichokes, avocado, peanuts and chickpeas. Try to include at least one or a combination of these foods at lunchtime. We've incorporated a number of these foods into our three meal-prep recipes below.
2. Fill up with fiber-rich foods
Consuming more fiber-rich foods has a number of health benefits. In addition to keeping blood sugar stable throughout the afternoon, incorporating more fiber into your lunch bowl can prevent the absorption of some calories from the foods you eat, which can result in weight loss. Best sources include beans and lentils, avocado, artichokes and unpeeled sweet potatoes.
3. Include one or two sources of lean protein
Including enough high-quality protein throughout the day has been shown to support muscle growth, which in turn boosts metabolism to help you stay lean. Like fiber, protein also helps to stabilize blood sugar and keeps us feeling satisfied in the hours after a meal. Good options include eggs, chicken, salmon, quinoa and tofu.
4. Be mindful of salt and processed carbohydrates
While not technically belly fat, an increased waistline may be due to bloat caused by water retention or gas. To minimize bloating, watch the sodium by incorporating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and skipping the highly processed foods. Certain foods, like refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, may be poorly absorbed in the intestines and then can quickly ferment, leading to a buildup of uncomfortable gas and bloat.
Looking for More? See our 30-Day Flat-Belly Diet Plan
How to Meal-Prep Flat-Belly Lunches for the Week Ahead
Let us help take the guesswork out of what to eat for lunch this week. Each of these meal-prep plans walks you through how to prep and assemble a week's worth of satisfying lunches, each incorporating various foods shown to help reduce belly fat. These recipes make 4 lunch servings, so you can bring leftovers or grab lunch out one day during the week.
Store these healthy lunches in an air-tight meal-prep container to keep fresh (To buy: amazon.com, $30 for 5). Store any dressings or dips separately in a leak-proof container (To buy: amazon.com, $11.50 for 8) and wait to add till ready to eat to prevent wilting.
Spinach & Artichoke Salad with Parmesan Vinaigrette
Inspired by the classic warm party dip, these simple meal-prep spinach salads call for artichokes and eggs, two foods that can help trim down your midsection. To keep the hard-boiled eggs tasting fresh, we suggest adding them to your salad just before serving or in the morning before packing your lunch to-go.
Step 1: Drain artichokes
Line a sheet pan with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Drain one 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts in a mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water; drain again. Arrange the artichokes in a single layer on the sheet pan to remove moisture; set aside.
Step 2: Prepare Parmesan Vinaigrette
Make the Parmesan Vinaigrette. Transfer one-fourth of the vinaigrette into each of 4 small lidded containers; refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 3: Assemble lunch containers
Divide the artichoke hearts among 4 single-serving containers. Top each with one-fourth of a 5-ounce container baby spinach. Seal the containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. In the morning before taking your lunch to go, add 1½ hard-boiled eggs (sliced) to the meal-prep container. Dress with the Parmesan Vinaigrette and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon pistachios just before serving.
Sweet Potato, Kale & Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing
We're doubling down on the belly-fat-burning benefits of peanuts by topping these hearty kale salads with a super-flavorful Peanut Dressing and chopped roasted peanuts. For a delicious vegan option, swap in roasted tofu for the chicken breast.
Step 1: Roast sweet potatoes
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil; lightly coat with cooking spray. Cube 2 medium unpeeled sweet potatoes and toss with 1½ teaspoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast, turning once, until lightly browned and crispy on cut sides and tender inside, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool before assembling bowls.
Step 2: Make Peanut Dressing
You'll need ½ cup of Peanut Dressing for this week's lunches. Prepare what you need, or make the entire recipe and refrigerate the leftovers for up to 4 days to use throughout the week. Transfer 2 tablespoons dressing into each of 4 small lidded containers; refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Step 3: Assemble lunch containers
Divide 6 cups chopped curly kale among 4 single-serving containers (about 1½ cups each). Top each with one-fourth of the roasted sweet potatoes and ½ cup shredded cooked chicken breast. Seal the containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Just before serving, drizzle with 1 portion of Peanut Dressing and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped unsalted peanuts.
Lemon-Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls
Brimming with colorful roasted vegetables, these high-fiber plant-based meal-prep bowls are topped with hummus and avocado, two foods shown to help reduce belly fat. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought hummus to cut down on prep time, or make a batch of your own. You can also sub in an 8-ounce microwaveable quinoa pouch to minimize cooking.
Step 1: Roast vegetables
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine 1½ cups cauliflower florets, 1½ cups broccoli florets and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a 15-by-10-inch baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon oregano and ¼ teaspoon salt; stir to coat. Roast for 10 minutes.
Add ¾ cup chopped bell pepper and ¾ cup chopped zucchini to the vegetables in the pan; stir to combine. Roast until the vegetables are crisp-tender and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons lemon zest over the vegetables; set aside to cool before assembling bowls.
Step 2: Cook quinoa
Cook a batch of Basic Quinoa using a tri-color quinoa blend. You'll need 2 cups for this week's lunches, or ½ cup for each serving. Spread the quinoa on a sheet pan to cool before assembling containers.
Step 3: Assemble lunch containers
Divide the cooled roasted vegetables among 4 single-serving containers. Add ½ cup quinoa to each container, followed by ¼ cup hummus. Place a lemon wedge in each container, then seal and refrigerate the containers for up to 4 days. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and ¼ medium avocado (diced) before serving.
WATCH: How to Make a Flat-Belly Salad