We know the winter weight gain struggle is real, but what about the summertime? While it seems like the summer months are primed for healthy habits — fresh summer fruits and veggies, warm workout weather and so on — there are a few potential pitfalls that can sabotage those efforts.
Less sleep, cold refreshing adult beverages and all of the food-centric activities, such as barbecues, beach days and getaways can do a number on your waistline. Here are five healthy summer dinner recipes — all under 500 calories — to help you manage your weight this summer.
1. Hearty Gazpacho Bowl
Gazpacho, a cold soup, might be the perfect food for those hot, hot, summer days. Traditional gazpacho is a mash-up of fresh, summer veggies like ripe tomatoes, cucumber and peppers, which makes for a light and refreshing dish. We make this a heartier soup by adding chickpeas, corn and avocado to the mix.
Adding these high-fiber foods to this already fiber-filled soup make it a perfect summer recipe if you're trying to lose weight. Why? Well, for starters, we know fiber fills us up and helps keep us full. Eating 30 grams of fiber each day resulted in similar weight loss results as more involved diets requiring multiple dietary changes, according to February 2015 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Get the Hearty Gazpacho Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Grilled Farmers' Market Veggie Tacos
Calories: 229 (per taco)
Yes, you can have your favorite foods, and still manage your weight. The two are not mutually exclusive. Many people think that weight management means having to start a complicated diet with tons of food restrictions.
The truth is, weight management doesn't have to be that hard or overwhelming. Making simple changes like adding more veggies in your life could make all the difference, especially in the long run.
Research shows that higher intakes of vegetables reduce the risk of gaining weight —significantly. The more vegetables a person ate, the less likely they were to gain weight over a one-year period, regardless of other foods they consumed, per a December 2015 study published in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings are supported by a September 2012 study published in Obesity, which found that over a 10-year period, vegetable consumption was inversely related with weight gain, i.e. the more veggies you eat, the less weight you'll gain over time.
Get the Grilled Farmers' Market Veggie Tacos recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Leafy Rotisserie Chicken Salad With Creamy Tarragon Dressing
Speaking of vegetables and weight loss (see the Market Veggie Tacos above), it turns out specific vegetables may be more effective than others. Eating more vegetables should be a goal for everyone (less than 10 percent of adults get enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens may be especially beneficial for weight loss, according to a September 2015 study published in PLOS Medicine.
Researchers of the study found among all veggies, these two groups had the greatest association with changes in weight. The foundation of this recipe is mesclun greens. Perhaps the best part is using rotisserie chicken as an easy shortcut, making this a no-cooking-required recipe.
Get the Leafy Rotisserie Chicken Salad With Creamy Tarragon Dressing recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Cranberry Chicken Salad Sliders
Make rotisserie chicken, which is used in these chicken salad sliders, your lean protein go-to for summer. You won't have to turn on your oven but you'll still get the health and weight loss benefits.
When trying to lose weight, we often focus on what we have to cut from our diets, but this could backfire when it comes to protein. In fact, if you want to lose weight, it behooves you to eat more protein, according to December 2019 study published in Advances in Nutrition. Protein helps to maintain and build lean muscle mass, which is crucial for weight loss.
Get the Cranberry Chicken Salad Sliders recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Raw Zucchini Caprese 'Pasta'
Another cook-free recipe for the win! Better yet, this one calls for zucchini pasta, rather than regular pasta, which significantly reduces the calories and carbohydrates you'd typically find in a dish like this.
Another weight-loss-friendly food? Olive oil. Yeah, it's a fat and calorie-dense, but olive oil is more effective than soybean oil when it comes to weight loss, per an October 2018 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (aka, the gold standard), olive oil led to more fat loss (80 percent more!) and reduced blood pressure, compared to soybean oil, over the course of 9 weeks.
Get the Raw Zucchini Caprese 'Pasta' recipe and nutrition info here.
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome"
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Cohort Study Examining the Association Between Vegetable Consumption and Weight Gain in a Single Year Among Japanese Employees at a Manufacturing Company"
- Obesity: "Intake of Fruits and Vegetables in Relation to 10‐year Weight Gain Among Spanish Adults"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015"
- PLOS Medicine: "Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Protein Intake Greater than the RDA Differentially Influences Whole-Body Lean Mass Responses to Purposeful Catabolic and Anabolic Stressors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Improves Body Composition and Blood Pressure in Women with Excess Body Fat: a Randomized, Double-blinded, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial"