Do you ever wonder why loading up on salad doesn’t always help you slim down? Even with their reputation as a diet standby, salads aren’t synonymous with weight loss. In fact, many of the usual add-ins don’t actually offer much in the way of the lean protein, complex carbs, and monounsaturated fats you need to slim down while maintaining energy and keeping cravings off hand.
With the right toppings, though, salads can be a super filling and flavor-packed way to get all the nutrients you need while dropping pounds. For those trying to slim down, add these to your bowl of greens.
They don’t call almonds a superfood for nothing. These nuts offer both protein and healthy fat, so you stay energized and satisfied and will be less tempted by snack attacks. If you’re prepping your salad at home, toast them in the oven for a few minutes to boost their flavor. A handful (about 20 nuts) packs about 130 calories.
Salmon is another low-fat protein source, so topping your salad with a piece of grilled salmon will keep hunger at bay and energy levels consistent hours after putting down your fork. It’s also an excellent source of omega-3s, which not only reduce cholesterol but can also reduce inflammation to help you recover faster after an intense workout to help build more metabolism-boosting muscles. A small two-ounce serving is 116 calories and adds 12.5 grams of protein to your meal.
Since fiber and protein are a must in filling you up and keeping that full feeling going strong hours after you eat, which prevents snacking, beans are one of the most important salad toppings when it comes to losing weight. Kidney beans have more fiber and protein than chickpeas, so go for the red. A quarter-cup serving offers five grams of fiber and four grams of protein for 50 calories. Black beans are also a great choice as they offer magnesium and iron.
Low energy levels coupled with hunger pangs are sure to send you out for a post-salad pick-me-up. Avoid the energy meltdown by including protein-rich toppings like hard-boiled eggs in your salad. One egg is 78 calories and offers 6.3 grams of protein.
This green fruit not only adds a soft and creamy texture to your traditionally crunchy salad, but it also helps you slim down in three ways. For one, it’s full of fiber to fill you up while you’re eating so you eat less, but it also keeps you feeling full.
The fiber prevents constipation, which can prevent a round and bloated belly. Avocados are also excellent sources of MUFAs (monounsaturated fats), proven to diminish belly fat. This salad buddy is high in calories, so go for one-quarter to one half — you can even serve your salad in an avocado.
All berries offer a high fiber content that makes them filling so you eat less, but blueberries are the one berry proven to diminish belly fat. A quarter-cup serving is 21 calories and 0.9 grams of fiber. And because they’re naturally sweet, they may prevent the desire to reach for a treat afterward.
If you’ve ever felt hungry after downing a huge serving of greens, it’s because you need to beef up your bowl with some whole grains. Quinoa will give your salad a boost of protein and fiber. A quarter-cup serving of cooked quinoa is 56 calories, 1.3 grams of fiber, and two grams of protein. Psychologically, it’ll help you feel like you’re eating more of a meal than just a salad.
This fruit is high in the fiber pectin, which has been proven to help suppress appetite. Whatever the variety, half a medium pear (with the skin) is about 52 calories and offers 2.8 grams of filling fiber. If you’re not a fan of pears, apples are equally good.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Using just two tablespoons as part of your salad dressing could contribute to weight loss. The vinegar may suppress appetite, stimulate the metabolism, and reduce water retention and bloating. And at five calories a tablespoon, it definitely can’t do any damage.
You’ve heard that the capsaicin in cayenne, jalapeno, and other varieties of spicy peppers can boost metabolism and make you feel more satisfied. They’re not typically thought of as a salad staple, but if you like the hot stuff, add a small amount to kick up your bowl of greens.
This bulbous veggie has a strong licorice-like taste, which helps satisfy your palate. Plus, fennel has antimicrobial properties that may even reduce bloating.