Did you know that salads are one of the worst choices for weight loss? They can go either way:  They can be either extremely high in calories or so calorie/substance-deficient that they couldn’t even feed a bird.

Let’s start with the first salad scenario, since many of these meals have so much added junk in them that you end up eating as many calories as a double cheese burger and fries.   By the time you start counting the nuts, creamy dressing, cheese, bacon, dried fruit, avocado, croutons, and seeds on top of the lettuce, you may very well have an 800 calorie meal!

Now let’s consider the other scenario.  A bowl of plain lettuce with a handful of plain chicken breast (or not).  Boring!  Those who make this choice get it, but not completely.  They know that the junk in salads has tons of calories, so they eliminate it.  But then they end up devouring all the candy from their candy jar due to hunger later on.  Don’t make this too-common mistake!

The solution?  Make your salad the starter to your meal rather than the star.  You do need your veggies, so start with a salad and make sure it is not just plain lettuce.  Add some fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or your particular favorite.  And make it colorful so that you get a whole range of anti-oxidants.   Now don’t just eat the salad.  Also order a sandwich or some soup to go with it.   This makes a complete meal, which will leave you satisfied, energized, and in weight-loss mode!

If you absolutely want to make the salad the star of your meal, then you must add protein and a good source of carbohydrates.   Protein will make you feel fuller longer and will increase your metabolism by 25%.  So add chicken, salmon, tofu, or cottage cheese to your greens.   You must also add whole-grain carbohydrates to feel energized and to cut sugar cravings.  So add quinoa, any kind of beans (black, kidney, garbanzo), lentils, brown rice, or corn to your salad for quick energy and balance.  Remember, the perfect mix for a nice meal is to combine all food groups: carbohydrates + protein + fat + vegetables!

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