Creating an action plan that includes specific recipes can make all the difference in helping a person achieve their weight loss goals.
This article provides recipes and tips to help a person kickstart more healthful eating habits.
Recent research suggests that a personalized approach is best for sustained weight loss. No single diet is fit for everyone.
However, there is general guidance. For successful weight loss, avoid processed foods and added sugars, and favor whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Individual dietary requirements vary, according to a person’s desired weight, activity levels, sex, and age.
It is also important to take into account any food intolerances and other dietary requirements. The recipes below are easy to tailor, and we provide some ideas about adjustments that a person on a plant-based or gluten-free diet, for example, might make.
Overall, it can help to keep the following weight loss principles in mind:
- Aim for half of the plate to contain nonstarchy vegetables.
- Include leafy greens and raw salads.
- Make sure each meal has a source of lean protein.
- Limit carbohydrates and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, to no more than a quarter of the plate.
- Favor healthful fats, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, and make sure that their portions are limited.
It is important to vary breakfasts to make sure that they offer a range of nutrients.
Breakfast cereals are often high in added sugars, so be selective or simply avoid them. Some healthful options include eggs, oatmeal, and smoothies.
This recipe serves four.
The pancakes make a filling breakfast and a person might add blueberries, lemon juice, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
The recipe is gluten-free, but it is important to double-check ingredients labels, particularly those of the oats and baking powder.
- 1/2 cup unflavored protein powder, such as whey, rice, or pea protein
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4–1 cup buttermilk or oat milk
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- pinch of salt to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mix by hand in a bowl, adding in the buttermilk or oat milk as necessary to obtain the desired consistency.
- Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a nonstick pan and pour in the batter for about three pancakes at a time.
- Flip the pancakes so that each side is golden brown.
Anyone on a vegan diet can omit the eggs and replace the buttermilk with oat milk.
A person might also use buckwheat flour instead of oat flour.
For a budget-conscious — but not gluten-free— option, use whole wheat flour instead of the more expensive items, such as protein powder, almond meal, and oat flour.
When making these changes, a person may need to adjust the amounts of liquid.
This recipe makes 12 muffins.
These muffins are healthful and packed with protein. A person can make them in advance and reheat some in a microwave for breakfast.
- 6 large eggs
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 1 cup diced bell pepper
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs or oregano
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste
- Lightly grease a muffin tin with olive oil and preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C).
- Whisk the eggs, then add the remaining ingredients and stir until fully combined.
- Bake the muffins for 24–28 minutes until they set. Let the tin cool slightly before removing the muffins and leaving them to cool on a wire rack.
A person on a vegan diet might use graham flour, which is made from chickpeas, and omit the eggs. Find a vegan and gluten-free alternative recipe here.
Lunch can be an ideal time for raw salads and protein sources such as chicken, fish, and pulses.
One time-saving tip is to include vegetables leftover from dinner in a salad or whole-grain wrap.
Greek grilled chicken and hummus wrap
This recipe is for a simple, flavorful wrap that aims to keep a person full until dinner.
Anyone on a plant-based diet can replace the chicken and feta with chickpeas or lentils. Gluten-free wraps are an alternative for people avoiding gluten.
Quinoa is a gluten-free, plant-based source of protein that is very adaptable.
After boiling the quinoa, add in vegetables, beans, or chicken, and season it with a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.
Add fresh herbs or dried spices to make different flavor combinations. A person might also try this recipe for a Thai quinoa salad, but anyone on a plant-based diet should omit the fish sauce.
A person can plan their evening meal by choosing a lean protein and a combination of vegetables.
A delicious dinner might be as simple as baked salmon, leafy greens, and half a sweet potato or a chicken and vegetable stir fry with a small portion of brown rice.
Baked tofu sushi bowls with wasabi tahini sauce
This tasty vegan recipe has tofu as a protein source and can also include brown rice.
A person could also substitute poultry or fish for the tofu.
Healthful turkey chili
Turkey can be a lean, healthful alternative to red meat.
A person can serve this recipe with cauliflower rice. To make cauliflower rice, simply steam grated or chopped cauliflower. Brown rice is another alternative.
Also, a person might replace the cheese with avocado slices and the meat with red lentils and grated carrot.
An almost limitless number of fruit and vegetable combinations can make healthful smoothies. The following table gives some ideas to start with.
If the blender is powerful enough, a person might use frozen fruit and vegetables for convenience and to cut down on cost.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend reducing calories by 500–1,000 per day and aiming to lose 1–2 pounds per week.
They also recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days.
Strength and resistance training can help a person build muscle, and having more muscle means that the body is burning more calories, even while resting.
Learn about the best exercises for weight loss here.
A person’s population of gut bacteria, called the microbiome, seems to play a vital role in weight management.
A 2019 review, for example, suggests that obesity is associated with an imbalanced microbiome.
Meanwhile, having a high-fiber diet helps generate compounds called short-chain fatty acids. These help support a diverse range of bacteria in the gut and may protect against obesity.
According to the same review, animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners harm the microbiome. Therefore, it may be a good idea to avoid artificially sweetened foods and drinks.
A person might instead opt for small amounts of natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, and small portions of fruits for a sweet treat.
Planning meals with healthful recipes is an excellent step toward achieving weight loss goals.
To reach and maintain a healthy weight and support a healthy microbiota, opt for whole foods, and avoid processed foods and added sugars. It also helps to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days and build muscle with strength training.
Anyone who has conflicting health issues or more far-reaching weight loss goals should ask a doctor or dietitian for tailored guidance and strategies.