Mexican food is beloved for its bold flavors, but it has a reputation for being heavy and indulgent. However, there are many healthy Mexican food options that can help you lose weight when eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan.
Lean Protein Choices
Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass which boosts metabolism to help burn more calories. Lean proteins are low in saturated fat and a smart choice. Try these options:
- Chicken breast – Grilled, baked, or roasted with just a squeeze of lime and spices.
- Fish – Grass-fed fish like tilapia, cod, or mahi-mahi prepared simply with herbs and lime.
- Shrimp – Grilled or sautéed shrimp seasoned with garlic, cumin and chili powder.
- Pork tenderloin – Marinated and roasted pork is very lean.
- Beans – Kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and lentils are excellent plant-based proteins.
Healthy fats help you feel satisfied on fewer calories to support weight loss. Good options include:
- Avocados – Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Enjoy sliced on salads, sandwiches or tacos.
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. Sprinkle on entrees or enjoy as snacks.
- Olive oil – Saute vegetables or use as a marinade or dressing ingredient.
- Cheese – Go easy on high-fat cheeses. Stick to 1-2 oz of queso fresco or Oaxacan string cheese.
Whole Grain Carbs
Choose carbs that provide more nutrients, fiber to help you feel full. Ideas:
- Corn tortillas – Contain more fiber than white flour tortillas.
- Brown rice – Nutrient-rich whole grain.
- Quinoa – Highly nutritious whole grain that contains protein.
- Oatmeal – Fiber & protein help you stay full longer.
- Whole grain bread – Use for sandwiches in place of white bread.
Low in calories and full of volume, fiber, vitamins and minerals, vegetables are your diet essentials. Fill half your plate with these picks:
- Peppers – red, green, yellow
- Green beans
Fruits make the perfect sweet treat and provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Great options include:
- Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
Healthier Cooking Methods
The cooking method can make a big difference in how healthy a Mexican dish ends up. Use these tips:
- Grill proteins and vegetables
- Roast veggies in the oven
- Saute in a non-stick pan using a spray of olive oil
- Steam vegetables until just tender
- Skip frying – try baking tortilla chips or oven-frying fish
Use lighter versions of these high-calorie ingredients in moderation:
- Cheese – part-skim versions, small portions of stronger cheeses
- Sour cream – fat-free or low-fat
- Mayonnaise – lite
- Guacamole – use less oil when mashing
Healthy Mexican Recipes for Weight Loss
Putting together all the healthy ingredients, here are some delicious Mexican recipes to help you lose weight:
|Chicken Fajitas||Chicken breast, onions, peppers, corn tortillas|
|Shrimp and Avocado Salad||Shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, lime juice|
|Mexican Stuffed Peppers||Ground turkey, brown rice, black beans, peppers|
|Vegetable Enchiladas||Zucchini, spinach, beans, enchilada sauce, corn tortillas|
|Baja Fish Tacos||Baked fish, cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortillas|
|Chicken and Bean Burrito Bowl||Chicken, pinto beans, brown rice, salsa|
Healthy Mexican Dining Out Tips
With a few simple strategies, you can enjoy dining at Mexican restaurants while maintaining your weight loss goals:
- Start with vegetable soup or a salad with lime juice dressing
- Choose grilled lean proteins like shrimp, chicken or steak
- Ask for extra veggies instead of rice or chips
- Order corn tortillas instead of flour
- Share or take home part of high-calorie items like tacos, enchiladas, burritos
- Substitute beans, extra salsa or vegetables for cheese, sour cream and guacamole
- Have a sparkling water with lime instead of sugary drinks
Mexican cuisine offers endless options for healthy, waistline-friendly meals. Focus on lean proteins, vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and healthy fats. Use lighter cooking methods and limit high-calorie add-ons like cheese and sour cream. With delicious recipes made from fresh, quality ingredients, you can enjoy authentic Mexican flavor while losing weight.