Top 10 healthy Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss

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Published: February 27, 2023

For some reason, Middle Eastern food often gets overlooked. Perhaps due to the ‘noise’ that western cuisine makes. This is something that should change, considering just how much this part of the world has to offer. However, exquisite Middle Eastern cuisine is not something only the gourmets and adventurers have discovered the value of. Experts working for DubaiPT know that diets associated with Middle Eastern cuisine are healthier because they contain fewer saturated fats and refined flour and sugars. The traditional Western diet does not include enough fresh fruits and vegetables, which is crucial for balanced meals throughout the day. For people who love spices and fresh ingredients, we present a list of Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss that are not only healthy but also quite delicious!

Middle Eastern cuisine: The basics

Middle Eastern cuisine, sometimes referred to as West Asian cuisine, includes Arab, Turkish, Armenian, Iranian, Kurdish, and many more cousins. Since the Middle East has changed over time and from one source to another, it is difficult to determine the exact countries included in this region. A majority of Middle Eastern dishes include lean proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, and grains, making them one of the healthiest in the world. Lamb is the primary meat of this cuisine, and you will find it in most main dishes. Present-day eating habits have modernized, but this remains one of the best cuisines in the world, and it’s easy to incorporate it into your daily meal plan.

Hummus dip on a wooden chopping board with healthy tortilla chips around
Middle Eastern cuisine has some of the healthiest and most delicious dishes that can help you on your weight loss journey.

Why is Middle Eastern Cuisine good for weight loss?

Middle Eastern cuisine is often praised for its health benefits and is a great choice for those looking to lose weight. The cuisine features a variety of dishes that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats while being low in calories. Richness in protein means that many Middle Eastern dishes can be a part of your muscle gain meal plan as well.

Many Middle Eastern dishes are based on fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes, which are all nutrient-dense and low in calories. For example, hummus, a popular Middle Eastern dip, is made from chickpeas, which are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. Grilled chicken shawarma is another Middle Eastern dish that is high in protein and low in calories, making it an excellent option for those trying to lose weight.

Besides, Middle Eastern cuisine makes use of herbs and spices, which not only add flavor but also have potential health benefits such as aiding digestion and reducing inflammation. Middle Eastern cuisine is an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight, as it provides a wide range of healthy and flavorful options that can help you meet your weight loss goals while still enjoying delicious food.

Why is a proper diet necessary for your fitness goals?

Your diet is essential to every fitness goal you wish to reach, whether it is to lose weight or gain muscle. If you are one of the people who are on their weight loss journey, remember this – no weight loss exercise will be good enough if you don’t combine it with healthy, nourishing food. This is why this article is filled with some of the best, healthiest Middle Eastern dishes that can be your best friend in your weight loss journey!

measuring sandwich thickness
Healthy eating is more important than exercise when you are on a weight-loss journey

Does healthy food have to taste bad?

People usually tend to associate weight-loss diets with dull, tasteless food. However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth! You could eat healthy, nourishing foods, lose weight and still enjoy their beautiful taste with a proper weight loss diet plan. But if you believe that healthy food is tasteless and boring, it can affect your entire weight loss journey. Why? Simply because your relationship with food is a crucial thing when it comes to weight loss.

How your relationship with food affects your weight loss journey?

Eating healthy “by force” in order to change your appearance won’t bring you the desired results.  No one can keep that up for a longer period of time, and it usually ends in disappointment. Forcing yourself to eat healthily is not sustainable in the long run, and most people give up because they simply don’t want to torture themselves anymore.

Restrictive diets consisting of foods you hate are definitely not the way to go. But if you change your approach to food and find a fitness meal plan that you can follow in the long run, things will start to flow! The healthiest way to lose weight isn’t to focus on your appearance but on your health. Because if you change your habits out of love for your body, weight loss will come naturally.

Therefore, today we will show you some extremely tasty Middle Eastern food that will help you fuel your body out of love and desire for a healthier, happier you. Plus, if you combine them with the best cardio exercises and be consistent with them, the results will come in no time!

a woman preparing one of the Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss
Remember that the most important thing in weight loss is to do it out of love for your body to make it feel better and be healthier.

Healthy Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss you should know about

Some of these dishes may be difficult to make or come by. Still, you won’t know until you try. One of the most important meal prep tips for weight loss we can share with you is to prepare in advance. Therefore, you have to either find a good restaurant or potentially a well-supplied supermarket that might have all the ingredients you need.  Nonetheless, even if you cannot find all the necessary ingredients, it is going to be a fun adventure exploring all of these healthy Middle Eastern dishes.

Main ingredients of Middle Eastern meal plans

Wheat and rice are the main foods in the Middle Eastern diet. Whole grains and white rice is a perfect base for your main courses. The region also uses a lot of barley, as well as maize in some areas. Barley is full of fiber, and it can be an aid for losing weight. Additionally, you can incorporate burghul and couscous. In burghul, the wheat grains are partially cooked in water, dried in an oven (or in the sun), and then broken into pieces. Aside from meat pies, you can use burghul in salads (notably in tabbouleh mixed with chopped parsley, lemon, and oil).

In the region’s cuisine, squash, tomato, eggplant, and okra are also important ingredients. Usually, eggplant is fried, sliced, and topped with yogurt and garlic. It’s also the main ingredient of Baba Ghanoush. Tomatoes can often be found in salads, stews, or kebabs.

Besides tomatoes and eggplants, you can also often find olives on Middle Eastern tables, served as a side dish at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As Middle Eastern cuisine consists of various meat substitutes, like fava beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas, you can easily adapt it to your vegan meal plan Dubai trainers prepared for you.

A dish with an eggplant
Eggplant is one of the most common Middle Eastern ingredients

Common middle eastern spices

A Middle Eastern meal cannot be prepared without spices and seasonings. Black pepper is a popular ingredient, and chili peppers are sometimes added for a little punch. In cooking and in salads, most use plenty of parsley and mint. In Arab countries, thyme and thyme blends (za’atar) are common, as well as a mixture of dried thyme and sumac (crushed sour berries) consumed with bread and oil for breakfast. But the most popular spice is cumin. You can add it to falafels, or any sort of meat.

One of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss – Shawarma!

It’s a fun word to say, let alone a tasty dish to eat. Shawarma is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) Middle Eastern dishes. You probably heard of it before. The dish is very tasty, and it has high nutritional value. It’s rich in protein, which is crucial for weight loss and muscle gain. Because when we lose weight, the body drops the excess weight both from muscle and fat. And if you don’t prevent losing muscle, you won’t be able to achieve that toned look even after you lose a lot of weight.

Shawarma can be made either of beef or tender chicken; either way, it is extremely tasty. It’s very similar to Gyros, one of the most beloved dishes of Greece. The key to Shawarma’s tastiness? A special seasoning is used to marinate the meat. It is something you shouldn’t miss!

Shawarma as one of the middle eastern dishes for weight loss
Shawarma is one of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes that are also good for weight loss

Hummus – a vegan dish you will love

This one you must know from before. Maybe you never tried it, and let us tell you; you are missing a lot. There is no better word to describe it than delicious. Eating hummus is the absolute best way to enjoy Middle Eastern food. It is tasty, vegan, healthy, rich in protein, and excellent for weight loss!

In the most basic of explanations, hummus is a dip. This dip is made with chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini (a sesame seed paste). It is very creamy and very smooth. Aside from its glorious taste, this nutrient-rich food provides you with many vitamins, minerals, and, most importantly – proteins. On top of all of this, it contains healthy fats. What more could you ask for in a dish?

Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss fan-favorite – Falafel

Although not as famous as some western dishes, falafel has many fans due to its deliciousness. And this is why only people who have had the chance to try it know what we mean. But those who have never tried it will never want to replace it with anything once they do!

Falafels are absolutely amazing. This is probably one of the most delicious foods the Middle East has to offer. Also, with its high nutritional value, falafel is one of the healthiest Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss you can find! It’s rich in iron and magnesium, and it is an excellent dish for those who are following a certain diet.

a plate of falafel and some dips and spices next to it
Falafel is one of the most beloved Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss!

Furthermore, Falafel has 13g of protein per 100g and 0% of cholesterol! What is it? It is an adorable deep-fried ball or patty. You can make it from ground vegetables, chickpeas, and some spices unique to the Middle East. It is very easy to prepare, and you can add any spice you like.

Baba Ganush

Baba Ganush is a super healthy dip made from eggplants. It’s very low in calories and filled with Vitamin K. And a good source of minerals like potassium and fibers. If you are not a fan of eggplant, you certainly need to try this dip. It is a perfect opportunity to begin to adore eggplants. Not to mention that it is healthier than hummus and some would say much tastier as well. It is a whole meal or an excellent snack, in combination with fresh veggies or pita bread.

Without pita bread, it can also become a part of your gluten free diet. This is a perfect addition to any diet and an excellent nutrient source. You will be able to master this dish very fast. The main thing to do is to grill an eggplant and to get it nice and charred. This will bring out its taste and it makes this dish even tastier. Make sure that you try it and incorporate it into your diet.

Falafels and olives on table
Falafels are much healthier when served with different sorts of vegetables


Fattoush is a type of salad made from bread, said to have originated in Lebanon’s north. It only has about 60 calories per serving, and it can be a great breakfast for the summer. This is a very popular salad that will fill you up nicely, but without any cholesterol or trans fats. It is made from usual vegetables but with a spice combination – it has a very unique taste. The dressing is an important part of this salad. It contains sumac, which determines the flavor of the salad in combo with pomegranate. If you desire something light, fresh, and tasty – this is an excellent choice. It is an ideal summer dish.

Tabouleh – a rich and tasty salad

This is one of the lesser-known Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss. What is tabouleh? It is an interesting dish, and the closest we can come to describing it is by using the word salad. It is made with tomatoes, spring onions, parsley, mint, and bulgur. And once all of these ingredients are put together, you’d crown them with either lemon juice or olive oil to give them some extra deliciousness. Based on the ingredients, it is easy to deduce why this food is on the list of healthy Middle Eastern dishes. And besides being healthy, it’s also high in fiber and low in fat, which makes it perfect for weight loss!

Labneh – low carbs and high protein, anyone?

Another very famous Middle Eastern dish is labneh. While it originates from the Middle East, it is very widespread across the globe. Therefore, you may know this dish under its more popular name – Greek yogurt. However, the base of it is cow milk, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s perfect for those on a low carb meal plan Dubai trainers suggest since it has only 3.6g of carbohydrates per 100g serving.

This dish is light and refreshing. Above all else, it tastes amazing. The biggest health value of this dish? It consists of many probiotics that offer countless healthy bacteria to ensure your immune system goes up. Brilliant!

labneh and a bowl of fruit
Labneh, or Greek yogurt, is one of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss, and it goes perfectly with some fruit.

Mejadra – comfort food for the soul

Mejadra is a rich, gourmet pilaf, and it is listed among the top-rated comfort foods. In order to make it, you will need vegetables, lentils, and rice, and cook them together. People tend to use a great variety of spices when making majadra. The most frequent one is cumin, but you can add whatever you like. If you want to go crazy, add some cinnamon and brown sugar on top once it is all done.

In the cold winter season – there is nothing better you could prepare! After all, it is great for weight loss since it is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So, you can eat it without any regrets. Just make sure that you follow a good recipe and you will be amazed.

Last but not least – Shakshouka, one of the most loved Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss

Shakshouka definitely had to make our list of healthy Middle Eastern dishes. Once you try this dish, you will completely fall in love with it. It is basically a pot skillet dish made with a lot of tomatoes and with eggs. What you would do is slowly simmer tomatoes, specific spices, and herbs and add beaten eggs to the mix while keeping it in the pot. It is delicious. It is healthy, and it is all you’d need if you want a healthy, nutritious meal.

A traditional Shakshouka is full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. It is important to take in as many vitamins and nutrients as you can when you are on a diet. Also, be mindful when it comes to portions. This dish can have a lot of calories if you eat too much of it. It is a nice breakfast or lunch option.

Shakshouka served on a wooden board
If you seriously consider Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss, try Shakshouka

Lentil soup

In addition to being delicious, lentil soup is also rich in nutrients. There are many sorts of beans available in a variety of flavors, and they are relatively easy to prepare. In addition to boosting the immune system and promoting heart health, lentils contain antioxidants and B vitamins.

Lentils are high in protein and fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes feelings of fullness, which makes it a perfect addition to your diabetes diet as well. It is perfect to fill you up, but without any unwanted fats and calories. Lentils are popular in vegetarian diets because they are fulfilling, and healthy and you don’t miss meat when you are having lentils.

There are numerous variations of lentil soups or stews, depending on the country of origin. Although lentil soup originated in the Middle East, every country has its own specific recipe. Because of their benefits, lentils have become popular throughout the world and so are lentil soups.


Another excellent and popular dish is dolma. Wrapped in fresh vine leaves, dolma is traditionally made to hold brown rice or meat as well as vegetables. Aside from being incredibly low-calorie, vine leaves contain many nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and fiber.

Dolma is one of the Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss
If you like vine leaves, Dolma is for you

This can be a vegetarian dish if you choose to prepare it without beef. It is tasty all the same. Dolmas are made in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and basically everywhere in the Middle East. There are differences in ingredients in different countries. Regardless of a few changes in the recipes, dolmas are a healthy dish that is excellent for a weight loss diet.

Beverages you can drink on your weight loss meal plan

Many people try to find Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss but don’t really think about what they drink during the day. What you consume can affect your diet hugely, as most drinks also come with many calories. Following the monthly meal plan Dubai personal trainers can prepare for you, you will have a better insight into what you can and cannot drink. Today, we will speak about a couple of beverages you can take without feeling guilty:

  • Turkish coffee – strong black coffee, made with boiled ground beans and then cooled down without filtering- it has only 15 calories per cup
  • Ayran or Doogh – a beverage based on yogurt that’s popular in Iran and Turkey, has 118 calories but it’s a great probiotic and should be included in a weight loss meal plan
  • Qamar Al-Din – a sweet beverage made from apricots, that is a favorite drink during Ramadan, with only 60 calories per 100ml
a bowl of tabouleh
Who says a salad has to be tasteless and boring?

Sample weight loss meal plan

Here is a quick and simple weight loss meal plan – Middle East Edition.

Day 1

Breakfast should be quick and easy to make, like Baid Tamat – eggs with tomatoes. The eggs will give you enough energy by lunch, and tomatoes will freshen up your morning. For lunch, make a chickpea wrap. Chickpeas can be roasted in a short amount of time and they are packed with protein. As both breakfast and lunch were light, for dinner you can have lamb with plain rice, but watch out for the portion size. Any meal, even healthy, if eaten in big portions can be unhealthy.

Day 2

There’s nothing more satisfying than a traditional Middle Eastern breakfast where you spread the table and serve olives, vegetables, cheese, jam, kaymak, and basically everything you have in your freezer.  If you have time to prepare it, fresh okra/bamya stew served with rice is a great comfort meal for you and your family. Some okra compounds can even help you lose weight. For dinner, make red lentils in roasted carrot soup. This will be the perfect warm dish to end the day with.

eggs and tomatoes in a salad
Start your day with eggs and tomatoes

Day 3

For your third day, you can start with a sweet breakfast. Some seasonal fruit with yogurt can be very nourishing. For lunchtime, roasted chicken, or chicken kebabs are a perfect meal. You can also roast eggplant and serve it with tahini for dinner.

Day 4

Start your day with veggie hummus wrap. This will pack a punch, but your body will have the whole day to burn out the calories. For lunch, you can have falafels, but try to serve them with a salad instead of another wrap. For example, you can make falafel-stuffed peppers. Dinner can be simple, cucumber and roasted chickpeas with a tahini dressing.

Day 5

Baba Ganoush is a great low-calorie dip. It’s a perfect and healthy breakfast. You can heave a meaty lunch, like meat dolmas.  In the summertime, you will find fresh vine leaves, but you can also substitute them with jarred leaves. Tabouleh is one of the healthiest salads for weight loss, and you can freely eat it for dinner.

Is this meal plan for you?

Yes! Dubai PT has presented you with a weight loss meal plan that can fit just about anyone. This plan aims to bring rich, authentic dishes to tables around the world, which are both delicious and healthy. It is no longer enough for Middle Eastern food to be known for kebabs and shawarma. It is now taking the position of healthy superfood gastronomy that brings people together. If this sounds like something you will like and be able to follow, don’t let anything stop you. Of course, no diet or meal plan is enough to lose weight, so try to incorporate cardio exercises into your daily routine.

Middle eastern man on a wight loss journey
Combine these Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss with proper exercise for maximum results

You don’t have to give up your favorite foods to lose weight!

We’ve listed some of the best Middle Eastern dishes that help weight loss you simply must incorporate into your meal plan. All of the dishes we mentioned are healthy, nutritious, and excellent for those on a weight loss journey since many of them are protein-rich foods. And, sure enough, if you try at least one of them, you won’t want to have a meal plan without it ever again. Eating healthily day after day presents its own set of challenges. Even though it might seem demanding some days, following a healthy diet is not impossible. And the tastes and spices of these Middle Eastern dishes for weight loss will make it even easier.  Packed with flavors, you will be looking forward to every meal.

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