Baked chicken and salads can be healthy and low-calorie, but if you're trying to lose weight, you have to pay attention to how you prepare them and your overall calories. As with any other food, you can gain weight if you eat chicken prepared the wrong way and salads with high-calorie dressings and high-fat ingredients. You also have to pay attention to how much you eat.
Chicken and Salad Benefits
To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. That is, you need to eat fewer calories than you expend. Because foods high in fat tend to be high in calories, many people are able to lose weight by reducing the fat in their diets and substituting lower-fat foods, such as chicken. Salads are packed with vegetables that are low in calories and high in fiber, which promotes satiety and helps you control your total calorie intake.
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Unfortunately, even healthy foods like baked chicken and salads can become unhealthy and high in calories because of the way they are prepared. For example, baked chicken covered in cheese or another fatty sauce can be quite caloric. Similarly, dressings and high-calorie salad additions, such as nuts and cheese, can bring up the total calorie count. The skin of the chicken is another source of fat and should be removed.
Eating too much of even nutritious foods can hinder weight loss. Just look at the numbers – according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a cooked skinless chicken leg has about 180 calories. If you were to eat two chicken legs instead of one at every meal, your total calories for chicken alone would be nearly 1,100. Extra helpings of plain cut-up vegetables won't hurt your weight loss goals. But pour too much dressing on your salad, and grate 3 oz. of cheese over it, and you have another story altogether.
Making baked chicken and salads part of your diet is a step in the right direction, but if you are also eating unhealthy foods, you will probably not lose weight. To lose weight, you need to examine your entire diet and make improvements accordingly. This will also help you with weight maintenance once you reach your goal.