Eating at least one salad per day can provide your body with the energy boost it needs and will speed up your metabolism — further driving weight loss.
However, a salad will decline in nutritional value if you add too many of the wrong ingredients that will hinder, rather than help, with weight loss — such as high-fat salad dressings, cheese, and croutons.
Keep your salads highly nutritious and low in calories by practicing these five smart methods:
1. Use healthier salad dressings
Since it’s difficult for some to enjoy eating a salad without salad dressing, maker wiser, healthier choices when it comes to choosing dressings. Stay away from all salad dressings labeled as “fat-free” or “low-fat,” since these foods usually contain a higher number of additives and preservatives that won’t help you lose weight. Instead of buying salad dressings, make your own at home using either olive oil or red wine vinegar and add your own favorite seasonings.
2. Choose dark, leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens are rich in carotenoids, which are made up of compounds and antioxidants that can strengthen immune system function and protect against some forms of cancer in addition to driving weight loss. Swap out iceberg lettuce for darker, leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach — all of which are high in fiber to make you feel full for longer periods of time.
3. Add sources of lean protein
If you’re staying relatively active throughout the day and find that you’re burning through your salads quickly and constantly feel hungry, add sources of lean protein to your salads. Chicken, turkey, and fish are some of the healthiest forms of lean protein that can make your salads more satisfying and filling. Stay away from using other high-fat types of meat such as bacon, ham, and breaded meats.
4. Add lots of vegetables
When creating your salad, keep the colors of a rainbow in mind. The more colors, the better — especially given the nutritional value of carotenoids, which provide fruits and vegetables with their pigmentation. Add red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, and other colorful vegetables that are packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and lose weight.
5. Leave out the cheese
While it’s true that cheese can liven up the flavor of your salad, try omitting cheese from your salads completely. Most cheeses — especially those found at salad bars — can significantly boost the fat content of your salad and may even contain additives. If you insist on adding cheese to your salads, opt for a pungent, strong-flavored cheese such as blue cheese or gorgonzola. These cheeses are rich enough in flavor to satisfy when consumed in smaller quantities.