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How Can I Lose Weight with a DASH Diet? (Meal Plan Included)

September 14, 2021
How Can I Lose Weight with a DASH Diet? (Meal Plan Included) - Lark Health

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In this article:

  • The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can lower blood pressure.
  • The DASH diet can help you lose weight and improve other health measures.
  • The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and reduced-fat dairy products. It limits sodium, added sugars, meat, and saturated fats.
  • Lark is a weight loss coach on your phone. It helps you make small changes so your food choices are healthier and good for weight loss.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is one of the best diets. It is easy to follow, heart-healthy, and good for blood sugar. It can even help you lose weight!

The original clinical trial on the DASH diet had stunning results. They were published in New England Journal of Medicine. It took only two weeks of following the DASH diet for blood pressure to drop by 11.4 mm Hg among people with high blood pressure. Participants with normal blood pressure had theirs drop by 3.5 mm Hg on average. A meta-analysis in British Journal of Nutrition found the DASH diet can also lower cholesterol and blood sugar. 

US News and World Reportsagrees. The diet was:

  • Tied for #2 in best diet overall.
  • Tied for #1 in heart-healthy diets.
  • Tied for #3 in best diets for preventing or managing diabetes.

An article in JAMA says DASH diet is an affordable and realistic diet to follow. Here is how you can follow the DASH diet to lose weight!

What to Eat on a DASH Diet

Compared to a typical American diet, a DASH diet has these foods.

  • More fruits and vegetables
  • More reduced-fat and regular dairy products
  • More whole grains
  • More legumes, seeds, and nuts
  • Less sodium, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
  • Less red meat and processed meat
  • Fewer sweets and added sugars
  • Fewer refined grains

How to Plan a DASH Menu

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows you how many servings per day or week to get on a DASH diet. Don't worry if it is too hard to follow. Just scroll down for sample meal plans!

Serving Size Daily Servings 1,200 Calories Number of Servings 1,800 Calories
Grains (mostly whole grains)
1 slice bread
½ cup oatmeal, cooked rice or pasta
1 ounce of cereal or pretzels
4-5 daily
6 daily
1 cup of leafy
½ cup of cut
¼ cup dried
At least 3-4 daily
At least 4-5 daily
½ cup cut or berries
1 piece fruit
3-4 daily
4-5 daily
Reduced-Fat Dairy
1 cup milk
1.5 ounces of cheese
2-3 daily
2-3 daily
Lean Meats, Poultry, and Fish (limit red meat)
1 ounce cooked meat, poultry, fish
1 egg
¼ cup of tofu
3 or less
6 or less
Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes
1.5 ounces of nuts
2 tablespoons of peanut butter or seeds
½ cup beans, peas, lentils
3 per week
4-5 per week
Fats (Choose plant-based, non-tropical oils)
1 teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of salad dressing or mashed avocado
1 daily
2-3 daily
½ cup ice cream
1 tablespoon of jam
½ can of soda
No more than 3 weekly
No more than 5 weekly
Sodium Limit
2,300 milligrams
2,300 milligrams

Sample DASH Meal Plan for 4 Days

Here are 4 sample days for a DASH diet. Each day includes about 1,200 calories.

Sample Day 1

Meal Foods
1 whole-grain English muffin with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with ¾ cup of strawberries
Tuna Hummus Pockets

1 small whole-wheat pita, halved, spread with 2 tablespoons of hummus, stuffed with 3 ounces of canned tuna, chopped tomatoes, spinach leaves, and 1.5 ounces of low-fat cheddar cheese
Sweet Potato Rice Bowl

½ cup cubed sweet potato cooked in 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ cup sliced onion and 1 cup of shredded kale cooked in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and tossed with garlic powder and parmesan cheese, ½ cup of low-sodium black beans, and ⅓ cup of cooked brown rice

Sample Day 2

Meal Foods
Oatmeal made with ½ cup of oats and skim milk, ½ cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
Minestrone soup with kidney beans, whole-grain elbow or shell pasta, onion, celery, carrot, low-sodium broth, canned tomatoes, basil, cabbage, and Italian seasoning, served with parmesan cheese
Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

1 chopped bell pepper, ½ sliced onion, and ½ cup chopped sweet potato tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, thyme, and black pepper, roasted with 3 ounces of skinless chicken breast or thigh

1 cup of fresh fruit

Sample Day 3

Meal Foods
Scrambled egg with spinach and mushrooms, topped with 1.5 ounces of low-fat swiss cheese, served with 2 slices of whole-grain toast
Greek salad with a mixture of ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped cucumber or zucchini, 1.5 ounces of feta cheese, fresh basil, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, ½ cup of garbanzo beans, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of diced onion, (optional) served over 2 cups of chopped romaine lettuce.

1 banana
3 ounces of salmon baked with lemon juice, garlic, and basil, 1 cup of green beans roasted with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and ½ cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup of fresh fruit

Sample Day 4

Meal Foods
Cereal and Yogurt ¾ cup of shredded wheat 1 5-ounce container of plain yogurt ¾ cup of blueberries ½ ounce of sliced almonds
Portobello Burger

1 roasted or grilled portobello mushroom on a toasted whole-wheat bun with 1 teaspoon of margarine containing olive oil, plus lettuce, tomato, and a slice of low-fat cheese 10 animal crackers
Thai Shrimp Pasta Skillet 3 ounces of shrimp, cooked, tossed with 1 cup of vegetables (such as sliced carrots, snow peas, julienned bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, chopped cabbage, broccoli florets, etc.) cooked in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons of peanut sauce and 1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts 1 orange

You can add healthy snacks as needed. Here are 40 ideas!

Tips for Losing Weight on a DASH Diet

These tips can help you lose weight with a DASH diet.

  • The DASH diet includes low-fat dairy products. If you have lactose intolerance, you may still be able to have small amounts of cheese or yogurt. Dairy-free substitutes, such as soy yogurt and soy and almond milk provide calcium, too.
  • Choices within groups matter. Leaner, less-processed foods are usually better. Fresh fruit instead of dried fruit or fruit juice, whole-grain products instead of refined, fish over beef, and olive oil over butter are healthier and likely better for weight loss.
  • Many foods, such as soups and canned beans, are available in low-sodium versions.
  • Cooking with spices instead of salt lowers sodium while keeping flavor high. 
  • Portion control counts. Serving sizes may be smaller than you think. For example, a serving of pasta is ‚1/3 cup. A plate of pasta can have 6 servings or more!

Of course, ask a healthcare provider before starting any new diet plan!

Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that's not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn't just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

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