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What to Eat For Lunch to Lose Weight

Nutritionists Reveal What to Eat at Lunchtime to Lose Weight

Lunchtime! You know scarfing down a burger and fries isn't the best choice if you're trying to slim down, but how do you know what is? We've enlisted the expertise of two nutritionists — Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition — to share the perfect equation for how to make a delicious and satisfying lunch that will help you lose weight. Follow their advice below to start seeing results.


If you're trying to lose weight, aim for the 400-to-450 range. If you're trying to maintain your weight, especially if you work out, aim closer to 500 calories.


Yes, you need to eat carbs! Go for 50 to 65 grams, which is 45 to 55 percent of your lunch calories. Carbs offer your brain and your body energy, so skimping can leave you feeling sluggish. Overdoing it can also have the same affect, so stick to this range. Avoid refined carbs, like foods made with white flour and white sugar, and go for whole grains, whole grain breads and pastas, and starchy veggies and fruits.

Related: Back Off Carbs With a 1-Day Meal Plan


Go for the gold and get 20 to 30 grams of protein, which is about 17 to 25 percent of your lunch calories. A healthy dose of midday protein will help prevent the dreaded afternoon slump and will keep you feeling satisfied post-lunch so you're less likely to reach for sugary pick-me-ups.


Including healthy fats in your lunch makes your meal more satisfying, so strive for 13 to 18 grams, which is 30 to 35 percent of your total lunch calories. Including healthful sources like nuts, seeds, oils, avocado, and olives can help beat sugar cravings later.


Shoot for at least eight grams of fiber, which is 30 percent of the daily recommended total of 25 grams per day. Including fiber-rich carbohydrates (whole grains, starchy veggies, and fruit) and fiber-containing fats (nuts and seeds) will help you reach your fiber goals.


Healthy lunches should have four grams of sugar or fewer, but if you enjoy foods that contain natural sugars (like grapes or dried cranberries in your salad, sweet potato or squash in soups, whole pieces of fruit, or natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey in sauces or dressings), then aim for fewer than 20 grams of sugar. Be mindful of the hidden sugars in certain products like sandwich bread; read labels, and choose those without added sugars.


Enjoy your lunch about one to three hours after your morning snack. If you eat breakfast around 7:30 and your morning snack around 10, aim to eat lunch around 12. Or if you like to exercise at noon, enjoy your lunch when you get back around 1. If you tend to forget to eat because you're so busy, set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to stop and nosh!

Related: The Best Time to Eat, Weigh Yourself, and More

A Few Examples of Perfect Lunches

Image Source: Jenny Sugar

  • Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad With Vanilla Greek Yogurt (5.3 ounces) and Blueberries (1/4 cup):
    Calories: 462
    Total fat: 13.6 g
    Saturated fat: 1.7 g
    Carbs: 58.4 g
    Fiber: 8.1 g
    Sugars: 20.2 g
    Protein: 28.1 g
  • Image Source: Lizzie Fuhr

  • Spinach Feta Wrap With a Pear and Raw Almonds (14):
    Calories: 452
    Total fat: 19.5 g
    Saturated fat: 5.1 g
    Carbs: 54.1 g
    Fiber: 12.2 g
    Sugars: 20.4 g
    Protein: 20.5 g
  • Image Source: Jenny Sugar

  • Butternut Squash Lentil Soup With a Slice of Whole Wheat Bread Smeared With Avocado (1/4 fruit):
    Calories: 433
    Total fat: 9.5 g
    Saturated fat: 1.6 g
    Carbs: 67 g
    Fiber: 22.4 g
    Sugars: 20.2 g
    Protein: 22.3 g
  • Image Source: Lizzie Fuhr

  • Greek-Yogurt Chicken Salad on a Whole Wheat Pita With an Apple and Salted Cashews (10):
    Calories: 483
    Total fat: 14.1 g
    Saturated fat: 3.2 g
    Carbs: 63.8 g
    Fiber: 10.1 g
    Sugars: 22.5 g
    Protein: 29.7 g

Snack Mistakes to Avoid

  • Waiting until you're famished: Busy schedules can make hitting that midday meal tough, but avoid heading to lunch when you're starving. Not only will you inhale your lunch quickly and reach for more food because your body hasn't had time to register that it's full, but also, it can also throw off your natural hunger and fullness cues for the rest of the afternoon, which can lead to eating more later in the day.
  • Eating out: Do you know how many calories are in that soup and salad you ordered from the cafe? It seems like a healthy lunch, but hidden high-calorie ingredients could make your lunch well over 600 calories. Pack lunch from home so you know exactly how much you're eating.
  • Not taking a break: When you mindlessly gobble down your lunch while doing something else like working or watching TV, your mind will be too distracted to be able to fully register each bite, so you'll tend to take in or crave more calories. Get away from your desk, get outside, or eat lunch with a friend.

Looking for other daily eating habits that will help you lose weight? Here's what to eat for breakfast, for dinner, and at snack time to lose weight.

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blackberrybunny blackberrybunny 1 year

You should try a REAL Green yogurt, which is very thick and not watered down like that Dannon and Yoplait crap! I hate that watered down sh*t and I LOVE Green yogurt. I buy the plain kind and add some sugar free jell-o gelatin powder into it, and make my own sugar free flavored kind. Or better yet, I use it to make a delicious cool cucumber salad, and also on Falafel sandwiches. The difference between the watered down runny yogurts vs a greek variety is a little like comparing runny skim milk to delicious thick sour cream. You won't be disappointed with greek yogurt.

blackberrybunny blackberrybunny 1 year

Well, no wonder. Go figure! You are probably starving yourself. Of course your body is going to rebel and say hey, wtf?! I suggest you try a low carb, high fat diet, like Atkins, or the South Beach Diet. A lot of this also depends on your starting weight, height, and age... but quit starving yourself! This is why your body won't let the excess pounds go--it thinks you are starving, so it's holding on to the fat for critical times, like should you become ill. Losing weight is not complicated. Lower you carbs to under 50 grams a day and you WILL lose weight.

If you don't want to try it, simply cut out ALL forms of sugar, and this includes things that don't seem sugary, like bread, pasta, flour, rice, potatoes--- anything made from grains, even 100% whole grains, and anything starchy like rice an dpotatoes, all of this stuff IS converted into sugar in your body! I bet you didn't realize that, did you? I know I didn't at first either.

But I started the South Beach diet and then moved to following Atkins and w/o even one session of exercise, I have lost over 64 lbs in the last year! Started at 244, now I'm 180! And I'm a 46 year old woman in menopause, so YOU CAN do it too!

blackberrybunny blackberrybunny 1 year

I agree completely. I've been following a low carb / high fat diet now for a little over one year, and I've lost 64 lbs, without having to do a lick of any exercise. Which works for me, because I am physically disabled and cannot walk more than a mile anyways.

So, no exercise and cutting back on your carb count CAN and WILL make you lose weight! I keep my carb (net total) to under 30 a day. I started out at 244 lbs, and now I weigh 180 and I'm still dropping the weight right off of me! :-D

I'm not condoning that a person should NOT exercise, but for the people who hate to exercise, and use that as a reason to not even try to lose weight, I'm here to tell you that you CAN simply change your diet by cutting down drastically on most of your carb intake and you will lose the weight easily.

Plus, you get to eat the "naughty" stuff, like a lot of butter, heavy whipping cream, the crispy skin on your chicken, the fat on your steak, and all of the fried eggs and bacon you could possibly want!

blackberrybunny blackberrybunny 1 year

Forty five grams of this, 15 grams of that, this many grams of vegetable fiber...... I GET that--but HOW do we know how much of a vegetable of pasta is equal to the grams listed?! This article didn't help me at all. While I now know how many suggested grams I should eat, I still have NO idea how to figure out the serving sizes.

What do I have to do---lug around my digital kitchen scale everywhere I go now just to get it right so I don't eat too many grams?! Using the baseball, golf ball, deck of cards sized imagery in my head to figure out portion sizes doesn't always work.

For instance, a measuring cup of baby carrots definitely will have less fiber grams than, say, the same measuring cup full of grated cabbage. Do you see what I mean? This article left me feeling very hungry for MORE information I can actually use.

Patricia14588226 Patricia14588226 1 year

if you want to loose weight you are only suppose to eat less then 20 grams of carbs per day, these items have 64 grams just for one meal.. Eat low carb and you will loose a lot of weight. I did.

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