Most people think that a salad is the go-to meal for any weight loss plan. While part of this is true, not all salads will help you lose weight—and some might even cause you to gain more.

When it comes to salad choices, it’s all really about the types of ingredients you include in the mix. That said, you must choose your veggies, add-ons and dressing wisely. Here are some of the best salad ingredients for weight loss, as well as which ones you should avoid.

Salad Ingredients for Weight Loss

Go heavy on the greens.

The best ingredient for salads is lots of greens. These include spinach, arugula, watercress, beet greens and mustard greens if you’re looking for the softer varieties. If you’re looking for that extra crunch, you can opt for romaine, iceberg, frisee, radicchio, escarole and the like. Cabbage also contributes a nice crunch without adding calories.

Choose healthy fats.

Fruits and ingredients that are considered healthy fats help add flavor and texture to your salad, but must be used in moderation. Examples of popular salad add-ons include olive oil, avocados, seeds, nuts and olives.

Go easy on the dressing.

Most salads already taste wonderful with just a spritz of citrus or some salt and pepper. If you must have some dressing, steer clear of the store bought ones as they are likely to contain lots of sugar. Even if you have a heaping serving of greens and healthy ingredients, if you have too much dressing (particularly the creamy ones), it won’t bring you closer to your weight loss goals.

Salads to Avoid If You Want To Lose Weight


Coleslaw is delicious but one cup can have as much as 400 calories because of its ingredients. It’s definitely not the salad you want if you’re trying to shed pounds.

Pasta salads

Pastas are carbs, so even if you’re calling it a salad, it will contain lots of calories. It doesn’t matter if you have a healthy dressing, if your pasta is white and made of refined flour pasta (as most variants are), it won’t help you lose weight.

Seafood salads

Seafood salads don’t contain pork or meats — and sound like a healthy option. However, most of them come with creamy dressings that contain hundreds of calories per serving. It’s best to avoid them.

Salad Plate
IF is a serious commitment and will deliver amazing results if you really stick to the program. Pictured: Plates of roasted baby beet and radish salad are served. Getty Images/Ethan Miller