We’ve all heard breakfast is essential for weight loss, but what about dinner? It’s that meal where many people fall off the rails on their weight loss journey, succumbing to cravings or overconsuming calories after a long, stressful day. But what if we told you dinner could actually help you lose weight? And no, it’s not just salad and boiled chicken. We spoke with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares her #1 dinner for weight loss and achieving a slimmer midsection.
There’s more to weight loss than what you eat. The timing of your meals also plays a crucial role. According to a 2022 study in Nutrition Research and Practice, eating three square meals daily—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—at specific times each day can help boost weight loss success. Other studies have found that those who eat a larger breakfast and smaller dinner lose more weight than their large-dinner counterparts. These studies also suggest eating your last meal within two hours of bedtime and avoiding snacking before bed to support weight loss further.
If you’re ready to dig into the recipe (pun intended), read on for Moody’s #1 best dinner for weight loss. When you’re finished, be sure to check out 10 Ways Drinking Lemon Water Can Support Weight Loss.
What is the #1 dinner for weight loss?
Comprised of three simple, whole-food ingredients—shrimp, kale, and lentils—a simple shrimp, kale, and lentil salad is the best dinner for weight loss. Moody tells us, “The three main ingredients have a healthy balance of carbs and protein, along with a vegetable that’s low in calories.”
With a balanced mix of carbs and protein and a low-calorie vegetable, this simple dish provides both satiety and essential nutrients. Featuring lean protein from shrimp, nutrient-rich kale, and protein-packed lentils, it creates a wholesome and satisfying option for those aiming to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
The benefits of eating a shrimp, kale, and lentil salad for weight loss:
1. It’s packed full of fiber.
“The digestive system cannot break down fiber,” says Moody. “Fiber slows digestion like protein does, which prolongs the feeling of hunger. Furthermore, your stomach detects how much volume is in it, not how many calories you consume. So, if you add volume to your dinner with low-calorie vegetables like kale and tomatoes, you can feel fuller from a lower-calorie dinner.”
Kale has a higher fiber content than other salad greens like spinach and lettuce, providing 4 grams per 100-gram serving. Combined with the fiber-packed lentils (21 grams per cup, raw), this salad is a satisfying and nutrient-dense choice that can support weight loss goals while keeping you satiated.
2. It’s high in protein.
Crucial for muscle repair and maintenance, the shrimp, kale, and lentil salad doesn’t compromise on protein content. The shrimp and lentils offer a lean source of protein, an essential macronutrient required for muscle repair and maintenance and for keeping hunger at bay. One cup of raw lentils provides a whopping 47 grams of protein, while 100 grams of shrimp contains 20 grams. This protein-packed salad will provide a sense of fullness and a balanced and nutritious approach to weight loss.
“Shrimp is one of the leanest sources of protein out there, meaning it provides a high amount of protein without the saturated fat or excess calories,” Moody explains. “Protein takes a while to break down in the stomach, which means meals that are high in protein leave you feeling more satisfied even when the meal is low in calories. Lentils contain protein, carbs, and fiber, providing plant-fueled energy while also helping control appetite.”
3. You can add more bulk to it.
Customization is vital for weight loss, and this shrimp, kale, and lentil salad allows for flexibility in creating a meal that suits your preferences and hunger needs. By incorporating additional vegetables or whole foods, you can increase the salad’s bulk to help you fill you up without a ton of extra calories.
“Adding more non-starchy vegetables, like bell peppers, beets, cucumber, tomatoes, and broccoli, can add more bulk to the salad without significantly boosting the calorie content. You can also use vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to make a calorie-free dressing,” says Moody.
How to make this dinner for weight loss:
Before diving in, here are the ingredient quantities:
Total calories: approximately 497
- First, thoroughly wash and tear 2 cups of kale into bite-sized pieces, ensuring you remove the tough stems.
- In a saucepan, cook ½ a cup of green lentils in water or broth until tender but firm. Then, drain any excess liquid.
- If the shrimp isn’t pre-cooked, sauté six ounces of shrimp in a pan with a touch of olive oil until pink and opaque.
- In a large bowl, combine the prepared kale, cooked shrimp, and green lentils, tossing until evenly mixed.
- For an extra boost of nutrients and to add more bulk to the salad, consider incorporating additional vegetables of your choice.
- Season with salt, pepper, and optional olive oil or fresh lemon juice for added flavor.