These lunch foods and ideas will help power you through the afternoon while achieving your weight loss goals.
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tomato avocado cheese sandwich

Your lunch choices may be the culprit holding you back when you want to lose weight. So often, you're rushed and pressed for time—or eating at your desk. And while it may not be ideal, a rushed lunch doesn't have to stop you from achieving your goals. In fact, there are some ready-to-use foods that are simple to throw together and can help you reach your weight-loss goal. And, guess what: You know (and probably love) all of them. These are pretty easy to find.

Avocado

Whatever you choose for lunch—a salad, sandwich, grain bowl—top it with some avocado (or guac!). The creamy green 'cado offers some serious health perks. In a review published in 2021 in Nutrients, researchers looked at the effect that eating avocado can have on your health. They concluded that eating avocado can play a role in reducing blood pressure, improving cognitive function, keeping arteries clear, bettering gut bacteria, and, yes, helping with weight loss. Avocados contain antioxidants like carotenoids, vitamins and fatty acids, as well as other plant compounds that may affect the hunger hormone leptin to help keep you satiated and help curb your appetite to sidestep over-snacking.

Whole Grains

Vegan Grain Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Grain Bowl

If you want to make a simple switch that can make a difference in weight-loss success, trade out refined grains (white bread) for whole grains (100% whole-wheat bread) on your sandwich. Whole grains contain a higher amount of fiber compared to refined ones. An adequate intake of fiber positively affects your digestion and metabolism. Additionally, choosing whole grains over refined ones can help with weight loss goals and reduce the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease, suggested a 2020 article published in Nutrition Reviews. The author pointed out the importance of focusing on carbohydrate quality as opposed to quantity. Other great sources of whole grain include oatmeal, brown rice, barley, farro and even popcorn. Try grain bowls for an easy, packable work lunch.

Romaine Lettuce

Green Goddess Salad with Chicken

Kale gets all the love (and it's a fantastic option, too), but if you prefer milder romaine lettuce as your salad base and it helps you eat more of it, go for it. In addition to supporting weight loss, romaine lettuce provides health benefits related to your skin and vision. When fruits and veggies were examined for their weight-management potential, one that came out on top was leafy greens, per 2019 research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The veggies, like romaine lettuce, offer fiber and have a low glycemic load, which aids fullness and controls blood sugar. Spinach, Swiss chard or head lettuce are other good options.

Apple

chicken apple kale wraps

When you need a little something sweet after lunch, an apple is a great choice. These crisp fruits contain dietary fiber and plant compounds called polyphenols that help buoy good bacteria in the gut, possibly protecting against obesity, research published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2018 pointed out. Apples are also high in antioxidants—compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention. Don't just think of apples as a post-lunch food; thinly sliced apples also make great salad toppings and add a naturally sweet crunch to wraps and sandwiches.

Dairy

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Contrary to popular belief, dairy may be another perfect food to pair with your meal if you're looking for leaner body composition, according to a 2019 article published in Advances in Nutrition. Eating dairy in the long term was found to be associated with changes in body composition—mainly reducing fat and increasing muscle mass. Beyond weight loss, the study authors uncovered some surprising health benefits. Fermented dairy products, mainly cheese and yogurt, were associated with reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes. What's more, if you're running low on calcium, dairy foods are a great source of this bone-strengthening mineral, in addition to other calcium sources. To reduce your added sugar intake, you could skip the chocolate milk and flavored lattes.