Weight Loss Meals Substitutions That Taste Amazing

From turkey burgers to tacos, these simple meal ideas will help you lose weight and feel full all day.

Photo: Greg DuPree

Losing weight—and keeping the pounds off—isn't a quick or easy process, but a few simple diet changes can help along the way. Our favorite: eating lots of protein, fiber, and complex carbs. You'll feel energized and satisfied.

If you're unsure how to work superfoods into your daily menu, start with these healthy and simple meal ideas that have health benefits beyond losing weight.

And don't forget to see a healthcare provider if you are putting together a weight-loss plan.

01 of 17

BBQ Turkey Burgers

This spin on burgers is a delicious way to cut back on beef and eat more white meat turkey, an excellent source of lean protein and a favorite food of Jillian Michaels, personal trainer, businesswoman, author, and television personality. "Lean protein helps you stay fuller for longer," Michaels told Health. "It has the amino acids that are the building blocks for muscle."

Try This BBQ Turkey Burgers Recipe

In a medium bowl, gently mix ground white meat turkey, garlic, paprika, and cumin. Form the mixture into four (4-inch) patties and season each patty with salt and pepper. Heat a grill to medium-high and cook—flipping the burgers once—until burgers are just cooked through (about 7 minutes per side). Serve with desired toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, hummus, low-fat cheese, or grilled onions, and whole wheat or whole grain buns.

02 of 17

Energy-Revving Quinoa

Quinoa, an earthy whole grain that hails from South America, is packed with protein and fiber—a perfect combination for those looking to stay energized and eat healthily.

Add some black beans (another excellent source of fiber), fresh veggies, and fragrant spices to the quinoa, and you have a satisfying dish. Make it as a main meal for lunch or as a side dish with dinner.

One cup of quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults consume 50 grams of protein daily as part of a 2,000-calorie diet.

03 of 17

Spinach-Quinoa Breakfast Salad

Looking for a healthy start to your day but tired of oatmeal? Try a breakfast salad! If you struggle to get your greens in, adding them to your breakfast is a great way to get all of those nutritious vitamins and minerals you're looking for.

Trust us, all the makings of your morning parfait help create an unexpected dish with pleasing crunch and pretty pops of color.

Try This Spinach-Quinoa Breakfast Salad With Berries and Granola Recipe

To prep your plate, spread yogurt evenly on 2 plates. For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil, while whisking constantly until fully emulsified.

Toss together spinach, cooked quinoa, fresh strawberries and blueberries, and half of the dressing in a medium bowl. Divide the salad between the plates, on top of the yogurt. Drizzle with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with granola.

04 of 17

Steakhouse Salad

When portioned properly you can have a deliciously satisfying steak with less than 350 calories per serving.

This recipe is all the best parts of a steakhouse meal—succulent beef, fresh spinach, and crispy potatoes in salad form. Go ahead, indulge.

Try This Steakhouse Salad Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of pepper and salt. Scatter potaotoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast potatoes until golden and tender, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle the raw beef with 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sear the beef until browned on all sides and a thermometer registers 130°F to 135°F (for medium-rare), about 3 minutes per side, or to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer the beef to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Reserve any juices in the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium-high. Add sliced or whole mushrooms and chopped or thinly sliced garlic. Cook, stirring often, until browned, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water and Worcestershire sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushroom mixture into a side bowl to hold. Add chopped tomatoes or whole cherry tomatoes to the hot skillet, Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato skin is blistered, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

For a dressing, stir together some buttermilk, vinegar, 1/2 cup of the crumbled blue cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Toss buttermilk mixture.

Serve on a bed of baby spinach topped with the roasted potatoes, thinnly sliced beef, mushroom mixture, and tomatoes. Drizzle with the blue cheese dressing and sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese.

05 of 17

Black Bean and Chicken Chilaquiles

This traditional Mexican breakfast food requires only eight ingredients, including chicken, queso blanco, and corn tortillas. When finished, it may look indulgent, but because it's baked (rather than fried), it comes in under 300 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat per serving.

The key ingredient for weight-conscious eaters are the black beans. Their high protein and fiber content make them another superfood.

Try This Black Bean and Chicken Chilaquiles Recipe

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and add sliced or chopped onion. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add thinly sliced or chopped garlic and sauté for another minute. Add raw chopped or cubed chicken and cook to warm the meat, about another 30 seconds to a minute as you stir all the ingredents together. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir some black beans.

For a sauce, add chicken broth and salsa to the skillet and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing it to reduce in volume. Set aside.

Place tortilla strips in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of chicken mixture over tortillas and top with tortillas and chicken mixture. Pour broth mixture evenly over the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with low fat thinly grated cheese. Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes or until tortillas are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

06 of 17

Catch a Cioppino

Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which could be crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish. The seafood is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce.

At only 275 calories per serving, cioppino, a shellfish-laden Italian stew, will keep you feeling full long after you've eaten. Providing more than half your daily recommended protein intake, the shellfish in this stew makes for the perfect pescatarian-friendly food.

The dish can be served with toasted bread that is dipped into the sauce.

07 of 17

Try a Shakshuka

Eggs are high in protein and low in fat. They're perfect for a breakfast for in a dinner-style meal—like a Mediterranean shakshuka. In a Shakshouka, the eggs poach in a tomato, olive oil, garlic, and spice-laden broth.

The Mediterranean diet is great for your gut, reducing inflammation, and promoting heart health, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

08 of 17

Italian Garbanzo Salad

An Italian garbanzo salad is a vegetarian salad that features some of the Mediterranean diet's key pillars: low-fat dairy (represented by feta cheese), fresh vegetables (tomato, onion), healthy fats (olive oil), and lean protein (chickpeas). Best of all, one serving (1 cup) is only 159 calories!

The star of this dish is the "powerhouse" food: garbanzo beans, otherwise known as chickpeas, which are packed with key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

09 of 17

Poached Salmon With Sauce

With 17 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving and low in fat, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), salmon can also regulate your appetite hormones. A 2017 study in Nutrition found that foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (such as walnuts, salmon and canola oil) lead to an increase in a hormone related to satiety.

You can top your poached salmon with a delicious yogurt-based sauce—like a yogurt-tarragon sauce—for extra flavor. Poaching the salmon in liquid means you don't have to worry about the fish tasting dry.

10 of 17

Crisp Chickpea Slaw

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are loaded with resistant starch. They're also a great source of protein and fiber, which will help keep you full until dinnertime.

Make this slaw for your weekday lunch or weekend picnic. Trust us: You and your picnic buddies won't be able to tell how healthy it is.

Try This Crisp Chickpea Slaw Recipe

In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix together chickpeas, shredded cabbage, chopped celery, and shredded carrots. Then toss with the yogurt dressing to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Transfer the slaw to a plastic food storage bag or portable container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. You may want to shake the slaw to redistribute the dressing before serving or during chilling. The slaw keeps refrigerated for up to three days.

11 of 17

Ham, Pear, and Swiss Sandwich

The idea is all about flavors and textures: Swiss cheese, pear, lean ham, yogurt-dill sauce, and pumpernickel bread. And it's loaded with filling fiber! One sandwich provides nearly one-third of your recommended daily fiber intake, with the pear alone providing 15% (the USDA recommends women consume 28 grams of fiber daily and men consume 38 grams).

Tip: Don't peel the skin—that's where most of the fiber-goodness is found. If you're looking for a hot meal, lightly spray the outsides of the bread with olive oil spray and press in a pan to make a grilled panini.

Try this recipe: Ham, Sliced Pear and Swiss Sandwich

12 of 17

Pair Egg, Walnuts, and Rice

Brown rice is a hearty, fiber-rich grain that's low in calories and high in resistant starch. A protein-packed hard-boiled egg and walnuts—which contain healthy omega-3 fats—pair together to help keep you full.

13 of 17

Eggs Benedict Done Right

Eggs Benedict is a delicious and classic brunch dish. But English muffins topped with buttery hollandaise sauce isn't exactly the kindest combo for weight loss. For a healthier twist on your favorite savory morning treat, try this version: Swap out the empty-carb English muffins for a large portobello mushroom cap or a whole-grain English muffin. Add a mound of omega-3-packed smoked salmon. Instead of hollandaise, use a creamy avocado sauce, which also adds a dose of healthy fat.

14 of 17

Asian Rice Noodle Salad

An Asian rice noodle salad is the perfect healthy meal idea. It's packed with filling and fat-burning brown rice, along with heart-healthy cabbage. Bonus: If you have leftover coleslaw, you can sauté it with garlic and ginger, then add a protein like diced chicken, a scrambled egg, and soy sauce for a faster-than-takeout mu shu.

15 of 17

Swap To Butternut Noodles

Who says you have to totally forgo pasta to lose weight? Swap starchy-carb noodles with butternut squash for a lower-calorie dish.

Full of veggies and healthy fats, butternut noodles are a great alternative to enriched wheat pasta. Adding parmesan cheese can help it feel indulgent—at less than 300 calories per serving.

16 of 17

Try a Salad With Quinoa

When the weather gets chilly, a salad likely isn't the first thing you crave. Instead, you're probably tempted to indulge on not-so-healthy comfort foods. But good news: There are plenty of ways to make your meals both nutritious and satisfying.

Try topping salad greens with warm quinoa for a small boost of protein (and comfort). No matter what time of year, a citrus salad with crispy quinoa and avocado is sure to hit the spot.

17 of 17

Warm Up With Lentil Soup

Brothy, thin soups may not fill you up, but lentil soup with whole-grain toasted pita wedges will keep you full until your next meal. Lentils are chock-full of fiber with over 15 grams per cup, according to the USDA.

Eating healthy, delicious food while losing weight can be a challenge for many of us. Test out one of these 17 meal ideas for a delicious way to start your weight loss journey.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles