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The Perfect Dinner Equation for Weight Loss

You might have breakfast and lunch covered when it comes to a weight-loss plan, but dinner can prove to be a little more difficult. Stress and temptation can sneak in after a long day at work, and building that perfect plate to satisfy your body and support your goals can feel like a guessing game.

According to registered dietitian Shira Lenchewski, dinner should be "delicious, satisfying, and loaded with repair-oriented nutrients." Lucky for us, she's offered a straightforward, four-part dinner plan you can follow every night. Even better, she's included the perfect portions of the foods she recommends to clients on a weight-loss journey.

Part 1: Lean Protein

While people may associate protein with increased muscle mass and weight gain, Lenchewski says that adequate protein is necessary for weight loss because it helps you feel full for longer. High-protein foods also take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them.

Lenchewski's Top Picks
- 4 ounces grass-fed bison burger (made without bread crumbs)
5 ounces wild Atlantic salmon seasoned with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill
4 ounces chicken kebabs seasoned with Greek yogurt, garlic, and lemon zest
5 ounces sautéed prawns with garlic and sesame oil

Part 2: Nonstarchy Vegetables
Lizzie Fuhr

It should come as no surprise that Lenchewski suggests fiber-rich, nonstarchy veggies as an essential component of a well-balanced dinner. Fiber-rich veggies support digestion, fill you up, and offer the phytonutrients and minerals the body needs to perform at its top potential.

Lenchewski's Top Picks
10 blanched asparagus spears, seasoned with 1 teaspoon mayonnaise and Dijon mustard
2 cups green beans, lightly sautéed with extra-virgin olive oil and shallots
2 cups zucchini linguini with pesto
- 2 
cups simple butter lettuce salad with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and fresh herbs

Part 3: Complex Carbohydrates

When we overindulge in carbohydrate-dense foods like rice, pasta, couscous, and bread basket offerings, excess fuel is stored in the muscles as glycogen. You might be surprised to learn that each gram of glycogen in the muscles also stores around three grams of water, which contributes to extra fluid retention, says Lenchewski. When you reduce your carb intake, it tells the body to burn the surplus fuel and, in turn, eliminates this excess fluid.

With that said, all carbs are not the enemy! Appropriately portioned complex carbohydrates are an essential part of Lenchewski's plan since they help fuel the body and keep hunger at bay. Go for complex carbs that will help you feel satisfied with smaller portions.

Lenchewski's Top Picks
1/3 cup quinoa, cooked
1/3 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup black beans, cooked
1/2 cup lentils, cooked

Part 4: Healthy Fats

The idea that consuming dietary fat makes you fat is what Lenchewski refers to as "one of the most pervasive food myths out there." Consuming any macronutrient (meaning carbohydrate, protein, or fat) in excess will result in weight gain, but a healthy fat on your plate adds a ton of flavor and helps keep you full. When it comes to healthy fats, "a little goes a long way," Lenchewski says.

Many sources of healthy fats like avocados and olive oil offer the added bonus of being high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation.

Lenchewski's Top Picks
1/4 avocado
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut, grapeseed, walnut, sesame, or extra-virgin olive oil