Published June 03, 2013
Salad is the secret to a having beach-ready body, right? Not necessarily.
Sure, salad greens and chopped vegetables are low in calories and great for weight control. But what else you toss into your salad can keep it light or load it up with as many calories as a cheeseburger and fries!
It’s easy to go overboard on toppings – especially at a well-stocked salad bar – so choose with care:
Eat a colorful salad
Instead of adding nuts, cheeses, seeds, and crispy tortillas, get a variety of flavors with a colorful mix of veggies that fill you up on very few calories. A cup of raw, chopped veggies has just 25 calories compared to a handful of nuts at 250 calories or more. Great salad veggies include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and red onion. And by eating a colorful mix, you get greater variety in vitamins and minerals, too.
Choose lean proteins
Tasty as they may be, crispy chicken, tuna salad and crunchy bacon can make your salad a fatty disaster. You can lighten up without sacrificing flavor by going with lean proteins such as grilled chicken, fish, egg whites, ham, turkey, shrimp and edamame.
Go easy on cheese
Your bikini bottom will thank you for skipping toppings like goat cheese, cheddar cheese, and crumbled blue cheese – which are high in fat and have over 100 calories per ounce. Instead, opt for shredded, part-skim mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese – just a little bit adds a lot of satisfying taste.
Pick fresh fruit rather than dried
No question dried cranberries and raisins add a sweet note to your salad, but at 60 calories for two measly tablespoons are they worth it? For the same 60 calories you’ll get plenty more sweetness with a whole chopped apple or a cup of juicy raspberries, each with a bonus: healthy, belly-filling fiber.
Beware the dressing
The worst thing you can do to a healthy bowl of salad is to douse it in a creamy dressing or oily vinaigrette! For a great low-cal dressing that’s truly delicious, use a good-quality balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, and mix it with a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese or grainy mustard. This dressing has only 35 calories compared to one tablespoon of oil that has 135 calories.
For more tips, delicious high-fiber meal plans, recipes, and proven ways to lose weight and look great, check out my new book "The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!"
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the bestselling author of "The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!" and "The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss." Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.