The best healthy lunch ideas for weight loss are ones that are low-calorie, nutritious and delicious. They should have a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, not to mention, filled with lots of vegetables.
8 healthy lunch ideas for weight loss that are all under 500 calories are:
- Lettuce Tacos
- Pita Pizzas
- Summer Rolls
- Buddha Bowl
- Zoodles Pasta
- Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Stuffed Sweet Potato
- Grilled Skewers
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Rules to Follow for Healthy Lunches
Whether you want to eat lunches to lose weight or not, it’s important that your meals are nutritious and have a balance of macronutrients.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to eating healthy lunches.
Cut down on processed foods
There’s nothing wrong with eating processed foods once in a while but for optimum health, it’s best prioritise unprocessed foods if you can. This means choosing to fill half your plate with vegetables and wholegrains for the majority of your lunches.
Cover all your macronutrients
Ensure that you have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats on your plate.
As each of these macros perform a different role in your body, having a bit of each for your lunch will mean optimal results for your health.
Protein, which is the building blocks for muscle, will help you recover from workouts and rebuild your muscle so you can improve your size and strength. For the average adult, you should allocate 10-35% of your total energy intake. This means that if your total energy intake is 2000 calories, you need a minimum of 200 of those calories to come from protein.
Carbohydrates are what gives us energy so you’ll be able to get through the rest of your day or workout. Healthy fats keep you satiated for longer, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. 45-65 percent of your total calories should be carbohydrates while fats should be 20-35 percent.
Include fiber in your meals
Another component that you should consider when choosing what to eat for lunch is fiber content.
Fiber helps maintain your digestive system. It not only regulates bowel movements but your blood sugar levels as well, assisting in avoiding insulin spikes, which can cause energy highs and lows.
In addition, it also assists with satiety so you’ll feel full much sooner in your meal as well as long after.
Looking for advice on how to eat if you
8 Low Calorie Lunch Ideas For Weight Loss
Now we know what to look for in a healthy lunch, here are 8 ideas to get you started.
We’ve taken your favorite meals and made some changes so that you can still enjoy the same food but just with a lower calorie count—great for those with weight loss as their goal.
But don’t worry, we’ve covered the macronutrients as well and you can easily add your favorite vegetables to it, so you can make it your own.
If you’re unsure about what your macronutrients should be check out:
If you don’t workout regularly, but still want to eat healthy, then check out:
If you are planning on eating out rather than making your own meals, then check out:
- FeastGood.com – A resource for those who want to eat out but still want healthy and nutritious, fitness-oriented meals.
1. Lettuce Tacos
Approximate calories: 443
Lettuce tacos are a great alternative to your typical taco meal and it’s never boring. You can mix up the ingredient list according to whatever you’re feeling like that day, as well as to match any dietary preferences that you may have, whether that’s vegetarian or vegan or gluten free.
Not to mention, you can fit lots of veggies into your meal so you know you’re getting your greens in.
For this post, we’re going to show you a lettuce taco breakdown with ground beef, but you can always make switches as you prefer.
We have options below to make it vegan and/or vegetarian.
|3 oz||Ground beef||200|
|1 oz||Bell pepper||6|
|1-2 tbsp||Tomato salsa||10|
|2 oz||Cheddar cheese||200|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Remove the ground beef and replace it with vegan/vegetarian beef or use black beans instead. Do the same with the cheese.
2. Pita Pizzas
Approximate calories: 393
Pizzas are always a great idea but most people don’t think that they’re an ideal lunch if you’re trying to lose weight.
But if you swap out your classic dough with a pita bread, you’re cutting calories without compromising on taste, so you can still get your pizza fix whenever those lunchtime cravings hit.
The best thing about it is that you can add whatever toppings you like.
|1||Large pita bread||170|
|1 oz||Pizza sauce||15|
|1 oz||Fat-free mozzarella||43|
|3 oz||Cooked chicken breast||128|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Use soy protein like vegan chicken instead of chicken breast and use vegan cheese or omit it altogether.
3. Summer Rolls
Approximate calories: 474
Summer rolls are a light, refreshing yet filling healthy lunch idea for weight loss. They can be catered to your dietary preferences while still ensuring that you will be satiated and satisfied.
The rice paper won’t leave you feeling too heavy so you won’t hit that afternoon slump. The rolls can be filled with lots of vegetables and the protein of your choice, topped up with a yummy peanut sweet hoisin sauce.
|2 oz||Shredded lettuce||7|
|2 tbsp||Peanut butter||188|
|1||Sweet hoisin sauce||70|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Tofu goes really well in the rice paper rolls as a vegan/vegetarian version instead of the shrimp.
4. Buddha Bowl
Approximate calories: 475
The Buddha Bowl is another healthy lunch idea for weight loss. Not only is it full of nutrients but it’s versatile so you can change it up every day and never get bored of it.
The key components of this dish is a carbohydrate and protein of your choosing, lots of vegetables and salad, and a delicious sauce to tie it all together.
|1||Shredded red cabbage||9|
5. Zoodle Pasta
Approximate calories: 500
An easy way to take away calories from your lunch meals so that you can stick to your calorie deficit, is to replace some of the carbs with alternate options.
One way to do this is to swap out pasta with zucchini noodles, better known as zoodles.
However, you don’t have to completely take away all the pasta and make it a dish completely made of zoodles.
Instead, just half the portion of pasta and replace that half with zoodles. That way, you can get your pasta fix while still cutting calories without having to compromise on taste.
|3.5 oz||Cooked angel hair pasta||157|
|2 oz||Cherry tomato||9|
|1 tsp||Olive oil||40|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Double-check the ingredients of your angel hair pasta and use vegan-friendly alternatives if it contains egg. Also, take out the shrimp and replace it with your favorite plant-based protein.
6. Stuffed Bell Peppers
Approximate calories: 472
If you want to get lots of vegetables in, then why not use a vegetable as your bowl? Stuffed bell peppers are a great meal to have that’s also nutritious and delicious.
Not to mention, it’s easy to make. Just throw it all together, fill it with your other favorite vegetables and fillings and put it in the oven. It’ll be ready in no time.
|1 oz||Tomato paste||23|
|1.7 oz||Black beans||130|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Replace the dairy ricotta with vegan cheese or omit it altogether.
7. Stuffed Sweet Potato
Approximate calories: 379
Another vegetable that you could use as a bowl that’s part of your meal is sweet potato.
Get your chosen vegetables, black beans for protein and put it into the oven, ready for lunch.
|2||Medium sweet potatoes||172|
|3 oz||Black beans||77|
8. Grilled Skewers
Approximate calories: 201
Fire up that BBQ to whip up some grilled skewers.
They’re super easy to make as well and with the right sauce, it’ll be so full of flavor.
|1 oz||Bell pepper||6|
Make it vegan and/or vegetarian: Keep this meat-free by using plant-based chicken or tofu. Replace the tzatziki sauce (vegetarian-friendly) with your favorite vegan one.
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The best low-calorie diet lunches are ones that have a balance of protein for your muscles, carbohydrates for energy and healthy fats for satiety.
Not to mention, filled with a variety of vegetables and fiber so you can get closer to your daily servings per day.
Our 8 ideas covered in this post are all 500 calories and under, versatile so you can personalize it, filled with macro and micronutrients and not to mention, delicious. Bon appetit!
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.