How to Fuel Your Fitness With Healthy Meals
Reap the Benefits of a Breakfast Upgrade
Studies show that dieters who blow off food in the morning usually consume more calories throughout the day than breakfast eaters, so just about any AM meal is better than none. But the problem with a mega muffin or a bowl of sugary cereal is that it won't keep you satisfied for long. What you need is a healthy grab-and-go starter that will pump you full of energy and make you forget about food until noon. Try one of the 300- to 500-cal breakfasts on the right. Each delivers a gut-gratifying mix of fiber and protein and is easy to brown-bag or pick up on the road.
Morning Power Foods
6 ounces of low-fat yogurt and a granola bar
A Larabar and an Odwalla Superfood juice drink
A packet of instant oatmeal with 1 Tbsp raisins, crushed walnuts, or ground flaxseeds
2 low-fat cheese sticks and an apple
2 Tbsp almond butter on whole-wheat bread and a piece of fruit
A scooped-out bagel. Dig out the doughy part, then spread on 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese.
Turn Lunch Into A Flavor Explosion
Your midday meal is the parachute ripcord for the rest of your afternoon: If you don't pull it, you'll go splat. The nutritionist's perfect lunch contains plenty of protein, fiber, and water to fill you up, averages about 500 calories, and can be easily packed for work or ordered as take-out. Getting all of that in a single dish sounds about as likely as Kim Kardashian winning a Pulitzer Prize. But there's one offering that fits the bill: a gourmet salad. The scrumptious suggestions listed on the left will fuel your body and make your mouth water. Toss these combos at home, then pour on two tablespoons of a low-fat vinaigrette when you're ready to eat. To satisfy a dessert craving after downing a big bowl of greens, finish off your meal with a healthy treat, like a handful of cherries or a serving of sugar-free Jell-O.
If you still get the afternoon munchies, bring a bag of frozen edamame to work, but keep them out of the freezer. By the time your hunger pangs kick in, your protein fix will be ready to eat.
Satisfying Midday Salads
Spinach, artichoke hearts, goat cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries
Romaine, tomato, salsa, black beans, avocado, and cheddar cheese
Mesclun, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and grilled chicken
Arugula, beets, carrots, tuna (water packed, no mayo), and chickpeas
Iceberg and arugula, tomatoes, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and grilled chicken breast
Max Your PM Meal
Most people blow their calorie budget by inhaling anything they can find after work. The simple fix is to eat an evening meal so satisfying it's like a preemptive strike on snack attacks. That means a dinner packed with lean protein plus fiber-rich whole grains and veggies. Can't cook? Even a kitchen rookie can assemble the low-calorie main dishes above. Just add some canned veggies or a bagged salad to create a full meal. For an after-dinner treat, try a scrumptious dessert tea, like Mighty Leaf's chocolate mint truffle (amazon.com), which packs a decadent mocha flavor into almost zero calories. Crave a glass of vino after your meal instead? Choose a dry white (such as a sauvignon blanc) over a sweet white (like a Riesling). Dry wine's full flavor stops you from drinking as quickly, preventing you from pouring another.
Slimming Main Dishes
Place a boneless chicken breast on a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 500°F for 5 to 7 minutes per side.
Rinse a tilapia fillet, then cook on a nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with lemon, salt, and pepper.
Cook brown rice per package directions. Heat a can of black beans and mix taco seasoning into cooked ground chicken. Layer ingredients into bowls and top with salsa, sliced avocado, chopped lettuce, grated sharp cheddar, and cilantro.
In a pan over medium heat, cook frozen veggies with 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp olive oil, and a pinch of brown sugar for 10 minutes. Add frozen cooked shrimp (slightly thawed) and cook for 5 more minutes.
Adapted from the book The Daily Fix: Your Guide to Healthy Habits for Good Nutrition, by Alexa L. Fishback (Rodale, 2008). Available at bookstores and at amazon.com.