If you’re looking to lose weight, you may be wondering what you should eat, how much, and what types of foods you should pair together that both taste delicious and help you lose weight at the same time.
This can be a confusing dilemma for sure, because there is a large amount of information available about weight loss today and almost all of it is different from one another!
Luckily, even though there is a vast number of ways you can approach weight loss, one thing you can always count on is that pairing protein and vegetables together will help you lose weight so long as you don’t overeat.
It’s even better that most of these food pairings also taste delicious too!
Why Protein and Vegetables are Helpful for Weight Loss:
When the body consumes amino acids and protein, the metabolism naturally takes a spike because protein is harder for the body to break down than other nutrients such as fat and carbohydrates. During the process of the breakdown of amino acids, lean muscle tissue is developed, hunger is satisfied, and cravings for sugar and carbs also go down at the same time.
Pairing protein and vegetables with one another is also helpful because the fiber and antioxidants in vegetables will help keep your body regular and in balance. Vegetables also decrease cravings for sugar and fuel the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract to help you lose weight more easily.
For some ideas of how to pair protein and vegetables together, why not try these 5 unique food pairings that taste delicious and help you lose weight at the same time. Think: No more plain chicken breasts and broccoli!
1. Mahi Mahi and Asparagus
Mahi mahi is a type of white fish which is a protein powerhouse, and it’s a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids despite being low in fat per serving. It’s also a great source of selenium, a key mineral that helps detoxify the body and improve thyroid function. Mahi mahi has a mild flavor so it’s easy to season however you want, and it’s rich in B vitamins that keep your brain healthy and energy levels up. Lastly, mahi mahi (like all white fish) is easy to digest and can help you get enough protein without feeling bloated.
Asparagus is a delicious vegetable that’s low in carbs, high in fiber, fat-free, and contains some protein too. Asparagus has 4 grams of protein per ½ cup chopped asparagus, and it’s also helpful for reducing bloating since it’s rich in potassium making it a natural diuretic food.
Mahi mahi pairs perfectly with asparagus because the two can be added to salads, or you can bake mahi mahi in the oven with lemon, pepper, and onion to season it, and then pair it with asparagus for a light and healthy lunch or dinner.
Take Home Tips:
When you prepare white fish, it’s best to oven-bake it for around 8-9 minutes. It is a flaky, delicate fish that may fall apart when grilling. For optimal weight loss, never fry your fish—always bake it.
To prepare asparagus for optimal weight loss, always grill or water sauté it instead of pan-frying it in oil. Or, you can steam it, but don’t overcook it or it will become watery and soggy.
Season this delicious food pairing with some black pepper, lemon, and whatever salt-free herbs and spices you enjoy. Consider this one of the most healthy, lean, and filling options you can eat that will also help you lose weight without going hungry!
2. Oatmeal and Blackberries
You may not think oats are a unique food—or even a protein-rich food— but when it comes to weight loss, their benefits should never be overlooked. Oats are one of the best foods you can eat to help you lose weight without going hungry, feeling deprived of carbs, or starving yourself. They are also lower in carbs than all other types of grains, contain 7-8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, and they are richer in nutrients than other grains overall, including quinoa, per serving.
Oats are also one of the only food consistently linked to lowering weight, improving heart health, and reducing high cholesterol. They are loaded with B vitamins, amino acids, minerals such as magnesium and iron, and they’re even a good source of healthy fats though relatively low in fat per serving.
Blueberries are well-known for their health benefits, but let’s be honest, we’ve all had our share of blueberries. Enter blackberries which are higher in fiber and lower in sugar per serving than blueberries, not to mention they’re easy to enjoy fresh or frozen.
Take Home Tips:
Mix frozen blackberries into freshly prepared oatmeal and enjoy the natural juices that release from the berries which will naturally sweeten your oats without you needing to add any sugar. If you need to add more sweetness, consider adding some pure stevia which is more natural than artificial options. Lastly, sprinkle some cinnamon on top of your oatmeal for better blood sugar regulation and for a nice and warming flavor.
Choose rolled or steel-cut oats as the best option when purchasing oats. You can also use fresh blackberries in your oatmeal and even prepare your oats overnight-style if you want by soaking them with the berries, non-dairy milk, and some plain yogurt in the fridge. In the morning, breakfast will be ready and you’ll be full for hours!
3. Non-fat, Plain Greek Yogurt and Raspberries
Greek yogurt is a powerhouse of protein, probiotics, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3. If you choose a high-quality brand, it’s also one of the best sources of meat-free protein you can eat. While dairy is a controversial food group, yogurt is an exception to the rule. Yogurt can help increase lean body mass, is relatively easy to digest, and it can stabilize your blood sugar levels due to the probiotics it contains.
Raspberries are a great source of Vitamin C, are low in sugar, are high in fiber, and there is some research that shows they may be especially helpful in weight loss efforts due to specific compounds they have. Plus, raspberries are delicious and a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth naturally without sugar.
Take Home Tips:
Top a container of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt with frozen or fresh raspberries and enjoy with some chia, flax, or just by itself. You’ll stay full for hours and likely notice an improvement in your digestion due to the probiotics in yogurt and fiber in raspberries.
Just be sure when you purchase yogurt to purchase fat-free or low-fat and plain options in place of sweetened and high-fat varieties. If you can purchase organic and non-GMO options, that’s also optimal since it will help you avoid pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics used in conventional dairy products.
4. Eggs and Kimchi
You may not have ever had kimchi, but here’s why you need it: kimchi is a type of cultured vegetable and it is a powerhouse of probiotics. It’s even possible one of the best foods you can eat for weight loss. Kimchi has no sugar, has more probiotics than yogurt, and is comparable to sauerkraut in taste although it’s a little spicier.
Kimchi, (also known as spicy, Asian/Korean sauerkraut), usually contains cabbage, scallions, garlic, onion, and some varieties contain extra veggies like carrots and celery. It has no dairy and most versions are vegan meaning no sources of animal products were used in the fermentation process.
Research shows that individuals who eat probiotic-rich foods lose weight more easily than those who skip probiotic-rich foods. Yogurt is a great place to start, but it’s definitely not the only option you have. Try adding kimchi to your daily routine by adding a side to your lunch or dinner. It can also be prepared with salads, raw veggies, or topped with multiple raw dishes of your choosing.
Why not try kimchi with eggs which are a rich in choline, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and many varieties also contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help improve brain health and satiety when eating. Eggs taste great with kimchi because the two create a nice, savory dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Take Home Tips:
Scramble or hard-boil your eggs for the healthiest options (versus frying them), and pair them with kimchi on the side. Look for kimchi options without added sugars and those that say raw and non-GMO. Kimchi can be found in the refrigerated section in the produce aisle wherever ethnic foods and sauerkraut is found.
5. Spaghetti Squash and Halibut
Spaghetti squash is a wonderful source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A improves skin health and also fights free radicals that can lead to a tired and sluggish immune system ruining your energy levels and daily caloric expenditure. Spaghetti squash is also high in fiber, water, but it’s low in overall carbohydrates so it’s especially blood sugar friendly.
Halibut is a type of white fish that’s low in fat but has a nice, buttery texture. It’s also great if you enjoy thicker cuts of seafood but are trying to watch your waistline and cholesterol levels. Like salmon, halibut is high in omega-3 fatty acids and one of the best types of fish to eat if you’re looking to lose weight more easily. It contains around 24-26 grams of protein per 5-6 ounce filet.
Take Home Tips:
Like other types of white fish, you should bake halibut in the oven so it doesn’t fall apart. It’s easy enough to do in a glass baking dish, or you can wrap it in foil to preserve the moisture found naturally in fish.
When preparing halibut, always use low-sodium spices and seasonings in place of salt to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and bloating from water weight caused by excessive sodium in your diet.
Spaghetti squash can be cooked whole in the microwave or the oven. Just poke a few holes in the top and sides with a fork, then roast it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or bake it in the microwave on maximum heat for at least 10 minutes. Once it’s done, it will be slightly golden brown on top and soft to the touch. Let it cool, then slice it in half, pull out the seeds, and pull out the spaghetti-like threads. Use this in place of pasta, or top your salads and other dishes with it. Spaghetti squash has a nice, slightly sweet flavor that goes great with halibut, chicken, and other types of lean poultry too.
Many types of food pairings that contain protein and vegetables can help you lose weight more easily, but if you’re looking to keep things excited, always try out new options. Never be afraid to try a new type of healthy dish, and if you need recipe ideas, go to Pinterest to find multiple options.
Lastly, for ultimate weight loss efforts, prepare your dishes without oil, butter, and cheese or high-fat spreads. Consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, and low-glycemic foods so you can manage your blood sugar appropriately.
Remember: Weight loss isn’t about starving yourself; it’s about feeding those muscles and appetite the right foods!