What is “Lean and Green”?

“Lean and green” comes from a diet called Optavia. While the Optavia program may not be for everyone, the meals are very healthy.

Lean and green meals have a few rules they follow to help with weight loss goals. When you start an Optavia plan, you are purchasing their “Optavia Fuelings” plus making at least one or two homemade meals per day. I know some people who have seen rapid weight loss with this program, but I worry about the longevity.

Eventually, your body needs more than that. Once you are done purchasing their products, where do you go from there? Of course, everyone’s weight loss journey is different. I prefer to learn as I go, and make better choices, for my personal weight maintenance plan.

Learning how to make these meals will help you for a longer period of time. Whenever you can cook a healthy meal, create a healthy habit, and work on yourself, you are winning.

One of my favorites lately has been substituting cauliflower rice in meals such as chicken fried rice which is a great recipe to get your protein (chicken and eggs), vegetables (add broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and peppers over cauliflower rice), and the healthy fats (olive oil, eggs).

Please note: I am not a physician nor do I have any stake in the Optavia company or any of its competitors. This post is to share the information I have gathered for myself and my family regarding lean and green meals as well as what I have learned when trying to cook these meals.

Originally Published On: January 4, 2023

How Much Should I Eat?

The amount of food you eat will vary greatly based on your goals as well as your body and medical needs. For example, with my thyroid issues, a fasting program does not work for me as I have to eat with my medicine or I get nauseous. Always listen to your body and ask a healthcare professional before starting any weight maintenance program.

Your goal will also affect your daily intake. If you want to stay at your current weight, then you don’t have to be as strict as someone who wants to lose weight.

This is also about making healthy recipes from healthy ingredients to help yourself create a lifelong transformation. If you only use meal replacements, then stop those, you’ll have to keep up with the lean and green meals to not gain weight again.

For a meal to count as a lean and green Optavia recipe, you will want 5-7oz of lean protein, 2-3 servings of non-starchy vegetables, and up to 2 servings of healthy fats.

How often should I eat?

Almost all weight loss plans suggest having multiple small meals throughout the day unless you are doing a fasting plan for the best overall health. It helps to have a meal plan before you start the week and before you even go grocery shopping. If you can eat these lean and green meals for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then have two healthy snacks in between, that should help you create a healthy action plan.

What foods have protein?

There are many food products that have protein in them. Some are higher than others. But you also want to look at the foods that are lean and will help you with your lean and green diet.

Food with protein includes meat and poultry, fish and other seafood, eggs and dairy, lentils, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, and soy products.

What counts as lean protein?

There are a lot of foods with protein in them. But what counts as lean protein? The leaner proteins are those with low fat, low carb, and low calorie count. You will want to try to add more of these to your diet.

The leanest proteins are cod, shrimp, and egg whites. The next best are chicken breast and swordfish. And the least lean, but still good, are salmon, lamb, or a pork chop. Lean beef is ok, but many people have issues with too much red meat so you probably want to limit this.

As with any weight program, you want to eat things in small portions. The best diets are those that let you eat foods you enjoy, but still watch your portion control.

You can visit THIS WEBSITE to help calculate how much protein you should eat in a day.

Shrimp cooking in lime juice in a large skillet on a wooden surface

What non-starchy vegetables can I eat?

If you are following the Optavia lean and green meal plan, you will want two to three servings of non-starchy vegetables with your lean protein. When looking for non-starchy vegetables, you will want to choose the ones that are low in carbohydrates.

According to the Healthline website, this is a list of the most common starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables to give you an idea for new recipes:

Starchy Vegetables

  • Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, cannellini)
  • Butternut squash
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Taro
  • Yams

Non-Starchy Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bell Peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant (also known as aubergine)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers (also known as capsicum)
  • Salad greens
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini (also known as courgette)
Raw asparagus on a wooden counter after the base has been cut off

What are healthy fats?

Healthy fats, for me, is the toughest to figure out. I can see how much protein is in something. I can find vegetables that are low carb and low in starch. But deciding which healthy fats make a great meal and still fit in the Optavia diet plan aka the lean and green plan is much harder for me.

While it sounds counter-intuitive to a diet plan, having healthy fats in your diet helps for better health overall. They are necessary to help your body absorb other nutrients when part of such meals as the lean and green.

Along with your lean protein and non-starchy vegetables, you can have up to two servings of healthy fats in your lean and green recipes.

  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • Flax Seed, Chia Seed, Raw Pumpkin Seeds, and other seeds
  • Walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios, and other nuts
  • Coconut
  • Eggs, including hard-boiled eggs
Hard-boiled egg sliced in half on a wooden cutting board next to shell pieces and other eggs

How can I add flavor to my lean and green meals?

While this meal plan may sound bland to some, there are multiple things you can add to your meal as a great way to increase the flavor. While keeping carbohydrates, calorie restriction, and continuous improvement of your recipes in mind, add spices and herbs to your meals as you see fit.

Some of your best options are:

  • Lime Juice
  • Lemon Juice
  • Black Pepper
  • Salsa
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard

What does NOT count for lean and green?

There are a lot of things you should avoid when you are trying to create a green cookbook for yourself. Some of these are obvious with any diet plan you may try. Cut sugar as much as you possibly can. Cut out those desserts, but I also say don’t deprive yourself. If you feel a sugar craving, go for a banana, an apple, or a healthy granola bar.

While the Optavia brand has its own bars, I have found other alternatives. A similar bar that you can find in most grocery stores is called Quest bars. You can also order them on Amazon for about the same cost. For anyone who has a dairy allergy like me, there’s a brand called No Cow Bars that has the same amount of protein, but it’s plant-based protein rather than dairy-based protein (whey).

Other things you should avoid with a lean and green meal plan include:

  • Ice Cream
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Brownies
  • Soda
  • Sweetened Coffee
  • Beer
  • Spirits
  • Wine
  • Mayonnaise
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Butter

What health benefits can I get from eating lean and green?

Everyone’s body is different and their nutrition and diet needs vary. But, overall, having a healthy lifestyle can help with many of the following weight-related issues:

  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Blood Sugar
  • Obesity/High Body Weight
  • Joint Pain

Take the necessary steps now to get yourself and your family on the way to a healthier lifestyle. The incorporation of low-calorie meals combined with at least 30 minutes of exercise per day can have a major impact on your health.

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