The question "what's for dinner?" can be a challenging one to answer—especially when you're looking to shed a few pounds. There are so many ways to go about losing weight (from the keto diet to the Mediterranean diet, or simply cutting back on calories altogether) that making dinner may feel like a monumental decision.
There's no magic alchemy to creating a perfectly slimming supper, but as a nutritionist, I'm happy to say there are healthy ingredient choices that complement each other to promote faster weight loss. Dinners built around a combination of filling fiber, healthy fat, and lean protein are almost always a smart choice for boosting metabolism while staying full between meals.
Jump-start your weekly meal plan with these dinner ideas that are both satisfying and weight loss-friendly. And did I mention tasty? Try any of these ingredient mashups as a starting point for your evening meal—and then check out these 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022 for busy weeknights.
Black beans + eggs + salsa
Going vegetarian isn't necessarily a guarantee of losing weight, but it certainly may help! A large German study from 2020 found that the fewer animal products people ate, the lower their body mass index was likely to be.
Researchers have speculated that this may happen for two reasons. Plant foods are not only typically lower in calories than animal-based foods, they're also higher in fiber, which keeps hunger in check.
A combination of black beans, eggs, and salsa is an excellent way to skip the meat but still get plenty of protein. These Vegetarian Black Bean Omelets are a breakfast for dinner that incorporates all three.
Tuna + greens + ginger
Think tuna has to come from a can (and look like cat food)? Think again! Fresh ahi tuna is an easy-to-cook fish with a sturdy texture and gorgeous pink color. It also contains tons of healthy fats and ample protein in a low-calorie package.
Create an even more colorful, nutritious palette by pairing this weight loss-friendly fish with greens like bok choy, spinach, or arugula. Then whip up a savory ginger-based sauce for drizzling—like the one in this recipe for Seared Ahi Tuna in a Ginger-Scallion Sauce. You won't believe this mouthwatering dinner has just 301 calories per serving.
Salmon + chickpeas + olive oil + lemon + herbs
You've probably heard about salmon's wealth of omega-3 fatty acids. Their anti-inflammatory properties may do more than just boost heart health. Reducing systemic inflammation throughout the body can also set the stage for weight loss. In a study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men and women who ate salmon three times per week for eight weeks experienced lower overall inflammation and lost a significant amount of weight.
Clearly, for weight loss, fish are friends! Dig into salmon with this 30-minute Grilled Salmon with Chermoula Chickpeas. By flavoring the grilled fish with lemon juice and dried spices, you'll craft a complexly flavored dinner for almost zero extra calories. Served over a bed of chickpeas, this recipe is also bursting with fiber to keep you satisfied.
Chicken + quinoa + veggies
News flash: You don't have to eliminate carbs to lose weight. In fact, including complex carbs like whole grains in your diet can actually help you reach your goal weight faster. Research has frequently associated a whole grain-rich diet with significant decreases in body fat.
Though technically a seed, quinoa is classified as a whole grain—and it comes with a host of high-impact nutrients like calcium, fiber, and protein. Pair it with roasted veggies like sweet potato and kale and pre-cooked chicken for a convenient protein in this Kale-Quinoa Salad.
Shrimp + cannellini beans + kale + garlic
If you're working toward weight loss on a Mediterranean diet, this one's for you. A combo of shrimp, cannellini beans, kale, and garlic is the ultimate Mediterranean meal. You've got protein from shrimp, filling fiber from beans and kale, and low-calorie flavor from piquant garlic. Bonus: Cooking with garlic is a handy trick for cutting back on sodium while still pleasing your palate.
Ready to make this light ingredient blend as a one-dish meal? Start by sautéing shrimp and minced garlic cloves in a drizzle of olive oil. Once the shrimp is cooked through, toss in a few large handfuls of shredded kale and a can of rinsed, drained cannellini beans. Cook until kale is wilted. A pro-weight loss dinner is served!