Smaller Meal at Lunch-Larger Meal at Dinner Results in Fast, Effortless Weight Loss

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 one makes at lunch can far outweigh a few bad snacks or a large meal at dinner. Hard to believe a small lunch can make a difference? 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 be 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.

Large Lunches That Look Like Dinners

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 have sedentary jobs. A sedentary job is defined as working 75% of the day inside a building or vehicle (think taxi driver, trucker). We 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. This is especially true in the time period where a person must do the exercise 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 Ex 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

We define a small lunch by its calories and carbs. Sandwiches, wraps, panini, salads, some soups, and pita sandwiches are the best choices.

  1. It should be less than 450 calories for a man and less than 350 calories for a woman.
  2. It should contain NO major carbs such as rice, beans, potatoes, pizza. Carbs may consist of whole wheat bread (45 calories/slice–2 slices) or low carb wraps or pitas (less than 100 calorie and 10 net carbs or less).
  3. 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 OK
  4. We encourage numerous vegetables to add to the volume of food.
  5. Fruit, soups yogurt, cottage cheese, salads and many other low-calorie choices can accompany this entree.

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, and potatoes. They are prepared with cooking oil, are served on large plates, and contain large portions. These lunches can often contain over 1000 calories. These foods may be “healthy” but they contain too many calories and carbs to be eaten twice a day.

Two important issues:

  1. The time of day you eat a meal does not matter. People eating late in the evening are no thinner or fatter than those eating early in the day.
  2. 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. Most adults need to reduce calories by 400 calories or more per day.  Exercise may not be as important in weight loss than food choice.

Burning Off a Large Lunch with Exercise

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 – they probably do not walk that much in a whole week. Read more about best exercise for weight lossBelow is the time required to burn off a typical fast food meal or a meal of chicken and pasta.

How long it takes to burn off a high-calorie fast food lunch
High Calorie Lunch

Advantages to having a small lunch and a large dinner:

  • Helps limit daily calories by having only one large meal a day
  • Lets you enjoy large meals with family and friends or at restaurants later in the day
  • Transferring part of lunch calories to the evening meal prevents evening hunger and cravings
  • Most cravings and uncontrolled eating happens in the evening
  • We often eat lunch at work or school, rushed and squeezed into a few minutes
  • Eliminating major carbs at lunch (rice, pasta, and 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 watch 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 (small lunch)

  1. People with sedentary jobs cannot burn off a large meal, regardless of when they eat it. They also cannot have two large meals in one day without gaining weight.
  2. The time of day when you consumed a meal has no effect on weight gain or loss.
  3. Most hot lunches consist of high-calorie foods. They produce fatigue later in the day and their portions are difficult to control.
  4. Cold foods are low in calories and their portions are easy to control.
  5. A large evening meal is for “social” eating with family and friends or when eating out. Hunger, fatigue, and peer pressure often influence decisions at this time of the day.
  6. Eating a small lunch guarantees that you will ingest only one large meal a day.

What NOT to do at Lunch
Avoid skipping lunch! Avoid eating fast food, fried food, meat, chicken, fish, pasta, rice, potatoes and pizza, or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

How the Temperature of Food When Eaten Helped Define a Small Lunch

Are you looking for a way to identify the appropriate food for a small lunch? It turns out that the temperature at which the food was served and eaten correlated best with the least number of calories and carbs and ease of portion control. Cold foods simply have easy portion control and are low in calories and carbs.

Cold Lunches are the Secret to Making the Best Choice All of the Time

The perfect lunch is a small lunch with low calories and high protein. It 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 problem is having nowhere to store the meal for the rest of the day. The endood Lunch Choices

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, meaning you can have as many as you want. 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.

Low Calorie Frozen Foods Can be the Exception to the “Cold” Rule and Still Be Less than 350 Calories

In Dr Lipman’s Miami Diet Plan, lunch is the smaller meal of he day usually consisting of sandwiches, 
salads, wraps, subs, soups, high protein bars or shakes. These type of foods, usually served “cold”
provide low calorie, low carb meals, usually 350 calories for women and 450 calories for men.
However, there are many circumstances where these foods may be difficult to obtain.
for example, a teacher in a school room, a high school student who wants to avoid cafeteria foods
, a work at home mom who wants to avoid left overs and even a factory worker without a  cafeteria.
All of these individuals may have a freezer and a microwave and can prepare simple frozen low
calorie meals. Dr Lipman’s App provides links to all of the best selections at local supermarkets
(in Florida its Publix) as well as links to Amazon Prime and Amazon Fresh. All of these links are
available on Dr Lipman’s app. Here is the page from Dr Lipman’s app on quick lunches that can
be purchased from Amazon and Publix markets:

Each of the images in the app link to the amazon.com prime or fresh page. You can order by simply
adding your amazon user and password. Many of the products can also be purchased at large supermarkets such as Publix in Florida.

Some of these selections may not be the very best in terms of calories and carbs. However, they are
much lower than some of the fast food alternatives. They do have easy portion control and the
convenience of being available. Many can be purchased from Amazon in groups of 3 to 5 making them
even more economical.

Bored with Your Cold Small Lunch? Here are More Interesting Food Choices

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 need to be 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 SEEM A LITTLE STRANGE FOR A DIET – THEY ARE NOT FOR EVERY DAY, JUST FOR VARIETY!

Smart Ones Low Calorie Meals
Healthy Small Lunch
Amy's Healthy Pockets
Spring Rolls - Not Fried
White Castle Cheeseburgers
Low Calorie Small Lunch
  • cantaloupe 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 cheese
  • Low calorie frozen pizza
  • Lean cuisine: TV dinner without Carbs
  • Atkins TV dinners
  • Sashimi and Kani Su rolls from Japanese Restaurants
  • Prepared Japanese Rolls purchased 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 lettuce from Chicken Kitchen
  • Cesar  Chicken wrap from Pollo Tropical