Quick Meal Planning for Weight Loss and Health

October 18, 2023
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Health Coach Q & A

Is shrimp good to eat?

Shrimp is very low in calories and high in protein. A 4-ounce portion of shrimp (about 6 jumbo shrimp) has 80 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 0 grams of carbs. Shrimp also has antioxidants.

Some people are concerned about the high cholesterol content of shrimp. A 4-ounce portion has 240 mg, or 80% of the daily maximum. However, research suggests that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have a major impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Instead, unhealthy (trans and saturated) fats do.

If you’re on a low-sodium diet, you should be aware that shrimp is also high in sodium, with 840 mg. 37% of the daily value. In comparison, a serving of tilapia fish has 40 mg of sodium.

Is egg yolk high in cholesterol?

Yes, egg yolks are high in cholesterol. A large egg yolk has 180 mg of cholesterol, or 60% of the daily value. However, remember that dietary cholesterol doesn’t seem to have a major impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Instead, unhealthy (trans and saturated) fats tend to raise cholesterol levels more dramatically.

For most people, an egg every day is okay. Some people should have only 4 eggs maximum per week. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor. Egg yolks also have nearly every essential vitamin and mineral, and eggs are a source of high-quality protein.

Doesn't low-fat dairy contain more sugar?

Actually…no! Low-fat cheddar cheese, for example, has 0 grams of sugar. The main concern with sugar and low-fat dairy might be with low-fat flavored yogurt, which often is very high in added sugars. Here are the dairy products we suggest.

  • Skim milk
  • Reduced-fat or nonfat cheese or cottage cheese
  • Nonfat yogurt or nonfat Greek yogurt with no added sugars

Do you have suggestions for alternative carbs to accommodate macros?

It’s generally best to choose higher-fiber sources of carbs. These types of carbs also tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals. Examples include oats, barley, whole-wheat bread and pasta, popcorn, and brown rice. 

To address your macros: it’s hard to help without knowing specifically what your goal macros are. If you’re looking for more protein, you might want to look for sources of carbs like oatmeal and quinoa. Other foods with carbohydrates that can bump up your protein intake are yogurt and beans. If you’re looking for more fat, wheat germ is an example of a whole grain with healthy fats and protein.

Regardless of which you choose, it’s always important to watch your portion sizes. If you need more protein and fat foods, you might have smaller portions of carb foods.

Ask your doctor if you have specific macro goals and which foods may be best for you to achieve your goals. You can always email coaching@lark.com to ask more specific questions, too.

My daily carb count is low and oatmeal and rice is not a true option. I already use spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

It sounds like you have your daily carbs under control. Great job! Just be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need! 

How many daily meals and or snacks are optimal?

This is a great question! It depends on individual factors, like personal preferences, lifestyle schedule, and nutrient/calorie needs.

  • If you like three big meals, that's fine!
  • If you like snacking, it's okay to have three snacks and three small meals.
  • If you don't have time for large meals, snacks can be helpful.

It's important, whether you have big or small meals, to choose nutrient-dense options and keep portions in check. 

What is the best snack to avoid late evening sugar/carb cravings?

Great question! If you like a snack after dinner, something with whole grains and not too much protein or sugar is good. Plain oatmeal with a few nuts, or whole-grain toast with peanut butter, can be good. 

Is mushroom coffee good for you?

Mushroom coffee is relatively new as a popular product. Some people believe that it may have benefits of medicinal mushrooms like improved immunity or benefits for heart health, but these have not been proven. Possible concerns may be related to medicine interactions. It’s best to ask your healthcare provider about mushroom coffee before using it.

Are supplements a good option to be sure you are getting the correct intake each day?

“Supplements” include a wide range of possibilities, and it’s important to ask your healthcare provider before taking any type of dietary or nutritional supplement. Regarding vitamin and mineral supplements, it’s likely that a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that is within normal limits is safe, and it may help prevent deficiencies. It’s best to ask your healthcare provider about a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, as well as any specific supplements if you are concerned about deficiencies. 

I thought caffeine was a diuretic. and You said that coffee (caffeine) was hydrating, but I thought it was a diuretic? Is it both?

That’s a great observation! It is true that caffeine is a diuretic. However, coffee and tea - even caffeinated varieties - still count as hydrating beverages. The fluid in coffee and tea is more than the fluid you lose from the diuretic effect of caffeine.

When taking caffeine, remember:

  • The general limit is 240 mg/day (about the amount in 4 small cups of coffee), but ask your doctor about a safe amount for you. 
  • Stop drinking caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime, or more if you find that it keeps you awake.
  • Some caffeinated beverages have higher amounts of caffeine than you may expect, so it’s a good idea to check.
  • Caffeine raises heart rate, so be aware of how much you are taking before intense exercise.

I enjoy Mexican rice and refried beans. I am vegan. How can I make the meal a little more satisfying without overextending myself? I have moderate excessive daytime sleepiness due to OSA so sometimes I just can't.

That’s a great question! Here are a few ideas.

  • If you’re making the rice and beans yourself, try using brown rice instead of white rice for the “one-quarter of your plate” that’s a high-fiber carb.
  • There are tons of low-effort ways to cover “half of your plate” with non-starchy vegetables. For example, canned stewed tomatoes, especially with Mexican seasoning, can be delicious and instant. Just heat them on the side or with the beans. Or, steam or microwave some fresh or frozen vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or anything you have on hand or can find easily. A super easy option is to bake bell peppers - just cut them in half or slice them, and put them on foil in the oven. You can also try a side salad with lettuce or spinach and any other vegetables you like, plus some balsamic vinaigrette dressing or olive oil and lime or lemon juice.
  • For extra protein, consider adding cooked tofu or a half-ounce of nuts.
  • Fruit is healthy and super easy to prepare - just wash an apple, peel a tangerine, or defrost some berries, for example. 

Hope that helps!

Do you have any suggestions on how I can incorporate more vegetables? I end up throwing out so much! It's not that I don't like vegetables. I just don't know how to cook them or plan meals full of vegetables. 

Getting more vegetables is a common challenge! 

To avoid throwing away vegetables, it can help to stock up on frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones until you get more comfortable using vegetables and are better able to predict how many you’ll use.

Some ways to eat vegetable are:

  • Raw as snacks, either plan or with dips
  • Cooked as side dishes
  • In green salads
  • On sandwiches

To use up more vegetables, and possibly use a wider variety, here are some more ideas:

  • In scrambled eggs, egg muffin cups, and omelets
  • In soup and stew
  • In casseroles
  • In whole-grain or bean salads (such as whole-wheat pasta with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and onion along with feta cheese, lemon juice, oregano, and olive oil)
  • Tossed with pasta or in pasta sauce

Here are some more ideas.


How many vegetables a day are we supposed to have?

The general recommendation is to have about 3 cups a day. More can be better! 

Is tuna good for making a sandwich?

Tuna can be great for making sandwiches! It’s easy, high in protein and omega-3 fats, and low in calories! If you want a tuna salad sandwich, try mixing tuna with nonfat yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and adding chopped vegetables. Put it on whole-grain bread and serve it with some baby carrots or a salad, and that’s a healthy lunch!

What are some easy meals that don't require a lot of cooking?

That’s a good question. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Sandwiches served with raw vegetables or a side salad and some fruit
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit and seeds or nuts and whole-grain cereal or oats
  • Salads with chicken, tuna, or beans and vinaigrette dressing
  • Tacos on whole-grain corn or wheat tortillas with beans, chicken, shrimp, or fish and lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled vegetables or a side salad
  • Veggie or lean turkey burger on a whole-grain bun or bread with a side salad or baked baby carrots
  • Whole-grain couscous with chickpeas, feta cheese, and chopped vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and onions or cooked fresh or frozen vegetables

You can also try making large batches so that you can cook just once a week and eat those meals throughout the week. Chili, stew, soup, and casseroles are all easy and good for making ahead of time.

To gain muscle versus fat is there a difference between plant, nut or meat protein?

As long as you get all of the amino acids, there’s no difference between the actual protein in plant-based and animal-based protein. Meat protein has all of the amino acids. You can get all of the amino acids from plant-based proteins by varying your sources. If you get a good mixture of beans, nuts, and grains, you’ll get all of the amino acids. They all work for building muscle!

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