Lunch Should Be the Small Meal of the Day
Most of my patients naturally assume that their weight gain is due to snacking and food choices or portion sizes at dinner. Although this may be partly true, the mistakes made at lunch can far outweigh a few bad snacks or a large meal at dinner. Hard to believe? Read on.
Consider this: a sandwich, a sub or a salad and soup average about 400 calories(small meal); fast foods, fried foods and hot dishes containing meat, chicken, rice, potatoes or pasta (a large meal) typically average between 1,000 and 1,600 calories. The difference between large and small meals for lunch can as much as 1,200 calories in just one sitting. If you are eating two large meals a day, even once a week, you can easily gain 10 pounds in a year.
Dinner is the large meal of the day, not lunch: However, for many reasons, people think they will not burn off a large meal if that meal is consumed at night. However, most of us with sedentary jobs(defined as working 75% of the day inside a building or vehicle [think taxi driver, trucker]) cannot burn off large meals, regardless of whether that large meal is breakfast, lunch or dinner. Simply put, individuals that have sedentary jobs are unable to exercise enough to burn off their lunches, especially in the time period where the exercise needs to be done to effect the high calorie lunch, i.e.in the early afternoon. Men who do heavy work outside a building such as construction workers, electricians, Fed Exp Drivers etc exercise through the day and can burn the high calorie lunch with ease and can have two large meals.
Definition of a Small Lunch vs Large Lunch
A small lunch is defined by its calories and carbs: Sandwiches, wraps,panini, pita sandwiches are the best choices:
- It should be less than 450 calories for a man and less than 350 calories for a woman.
- It should contain NO major carbs such as rice, beans, potatoes, pizza. Carbs may consist of whole wheat bread (45 cal/slice–2 slices) or low carb wraps or pitas.(less than 100 calorie and 10 net carbs or less.
- It should have only lean protein such as turkey, ham, chicken, tuna, low fat cheese, sliced egg and no pork or beef. Portion should be about 3 oz. No mayo should be added, mustard and ketchup are o.k.
- Numerous vegetables are encouraged to add volume of food.
- This entree can be accompanied by fruit, soups yogurt, cottage cheese, salads and many other choices.
How the Temperature of the Food When Eaten Helped Define a Small Lunch:
In looking for a way to identify the food appropriate for a “small lunch” it turned out that the temperature the food was served and eaten correlated best with the least number of calories and carbs and the ease of portion control. Cold foods simply have easy portion control and are low in calories and carbs.
What is a “Large Lunch”?
Large lunches are usually served hot, i.e. they are prepared from food that need to be cooked. These include beef, pork,chicken, fish and major carbs such as rice, pasta, potatoes. They are are prepared with cooking oil, are served on large plates and contain large portions. They are often over 1000 or more calories. These foods may be “healthy” but they contain too many calories and carbs to be eaten twice a day.
Two important issues:
- It does not mater the time of day a meal is eaten, people eating late in the evening are no thinner or fatter than those eating early in the day.
- The number of calories and carbs defines a large vs small lunch and whether its made up of healthy food or not is less important. The healthy benefits of eating “healthy foods” are far overwhelmed by the dangers of the weight gain.
“Burning off” a Large Lunch:
It takes four to five hours of nonstop walking to burn off a typical fast food lunch or a hot meal containing a protein and a starch. People with sedentary jobs do not walk the four to five hours required to burn off a large lunch during their workday and probably do not walk that much in a whole week.
Below is the time required to burn off a typical fast food meal or a meal of chicken and pasta:
Advantages to having a small lunch and a large dinner:
- Helps limit daily calories by having only one large meals a day.
- Lets you enjoy large meals with family, friends, restaurants later in the day
- Transferring part of lunch calories to evening meal prevents evening hunger and cravings.
- Most cravings and uncontrolled eating is in the evening.
- Lunch is often at work or school is often rushed and squeezed into a few minutes.
- Eliminating major carbs at lunch (rice, pasta, potatoes) reduces hunger as well as calories
- Most of my patients find it hardest to be restricted after work and during their evening hours. That’s the time you hit the TV, go to the movies go out for dinner or hang out with friends and family. If you have been just a little careful at lunch, you have “saved” up some extra calories to enjoy at dinner.
- Any possible differences in metabolism from eating large meals in the evening are trivial compared with the consequences of consuming two large meals a day.
The following guidelines will help you choose the appropriate foods and beverages for the right size lunch.
|Secrets to a Good Midday Meal|
|What NOT to do at Lunch|
|Avoid skipping lunch, eating fast food, fried food, meat, chicken, fish, pasta, rice, potatoes and pizza, or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.|
“COLD” Lunches are the Secret to Making the Best Choice All of the Time
The perfect lunch is a lunch with low calories and high protein, and has portions that are easy to control. Foods usually served cold (they may or may not be warmed up) are your best choices. These include: sandwiches, subs, wraps, salads with tuna, sliced chicken or turkey, fruits, cottage cheese and yogurt. All of these foods are high in protein, low in calories and have portions that are easy to control. Having a sandwich or a sub at lunch is a far better choice than for example half a chicken with brown rice. The carbs from the bread on a sub or sandwich are not nearly as significant as the hundreds of calories in the chicken and brown rice, which also have portions that are difficult to control.
Portion Control At Lunch Is Often Difficult
Most people try to control their portions at dinner. However, when it comes to lunch in a restaurant, a cafeteria or even at home, they eat whatever is placed in front of them. Few people consider splitting their lunch meals with others as they might do at dinner. This may be because lunch is usually with coworkers or friends rather than with family members. Almost no one will take part of lunch home as they might do with dinner. Part of this problems is storing the lunch meal all day.
People on the go or who are not very hungry at lunch should choose a high-protein shake, smoothie or a yogurt. Combinations are also acceptable, such as a salad and a (non-creamy) soup or soup and a sandwich. Fruits and vegetables are free foods. Low-fat salad dressings are mandatory. For subs or sandwiches, choose ham, turkey, roast beef, chicken, tuna or sliced eggs. You use lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables freely; the more vegetables you put on your sandwiches or subs, the larger and more filling they become. Avoid extra cheese or mayonnaise; try mustard or ketchup instead. Avoid meatball or steak subs.
Bored with”Small-Cold” Lunch? More Interesting Foods for a Low Calorie Lunch
Dr Lipman’s Miami Diet Plan is based on a small lunch and a large evening meal. Here are many more selections for lunch that are 400 calories or less. Some may may need warmed. Others are frozen like the cheeseburgers, mini pizzas and the tortillas. All add variety and do not look like large evening meals. SOME OF THESE MIGHT BE A LITTLE ‘STRANGE” FOR A DIET, THEY ARE NOT FOR EVERYDAY, JUST FOR VARIETY!
- Cantelopue and cottage cheese
- Bento Boxes from Japanese restaurant
- Snack boxes from Starbucks
- Frozen Cheeseburgers from White Castle
- Turkey wrap with low fat yogurt, blueberries and cranberries
- Tuna salad with sliced cheese or egg salad sandwich
- Rye bread sandwich with cheese and tomatoes
- Hot dog and mustard
- Flat bread breakfast sandwich
- 3 egg omelette with veggies and chese
- low calorie frozen pizza
- Lean cusine: TV dinner without Carbs
- Atkins TV dinners
- Sashimi and Kani Su rolls from Japanese Restaurants
- Prepared Jamanese Rolls purchsed from Publix, Fresh Market, Whole Foods
- Low Carb Pizza from Power PIzza
- Soup and Sandwich, soup and Salad from Panera Bread
- McDonald’s McWrap
- 2 Fresh Spring Rolls from Publix Sushi Bar to Go
- Pita Pocket with chicken and leatuce from Chicken Kitchen
- Ceaser Chicken wrap from Pollo Tropical