Losing weight is largely a matter of eating fewer calories than one expends through physical activity. Salads are a high-fiber, nutrient-dense source of calories and are quick to prepare. With proper planning, eating salads can be quick and effective route to weight loss.
Choose Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins A and beta carotene and are full of fiber. They will make you feel fuller while allowing you to eat fewer total calories. Kale, cabbage, romaine lettuce and spinach are all nutrient-rich leafy greens that make good salad components. A serving of raw leafy greens is approximately two cups and should serve as the bulk of your salad contents.
Add Some Colorful Vegetables
Red, orange, yellow and white vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, summer squash and radishes are great salad additions. These vegetables are full of fiber and water, both of which aid in weight loss. Those that are prewashed and sliced in packages are an added convenience. Remember that the more color you have on your plate, the greater the variety of vitamins and minerals you are consuming.
Beans and Proteins
High-fiber beans, such as garbanzo beans and kidney beans, make an excellent protein addition to salads. If you are feeling adventurous, cubes of tofu or tempeh are appearing more often on salad bars now and make excellent low-calorie protein options. Tofu is also high in calcium and rich in B vitamins. Try to avoid premade bean salads, as these contain higher amounts of sugar and fat. Some salad bars offer sliced ham and chicken for salad toppings as well. Pay attention to the fat content of these however, and avoid breaded chicken, opting for grilled instead.
Say No to Dressing and Extras
Salad dressings are a quick way to turn a healthy salad into a diet nightmare. For example, regular blue cheese salad dressing contains 300 calories and 32g of fat (more than one day's worth) in only a 1/4 cup. Even healthy additions like sunflower seeds can add 45 calories in 1 tbsp. It is best to stay away from the extras altogether or use lemon juice or flavored vinegar instead. If you feel you must have dressing, serve it on the side or cut your serving in half.