Holiday Eating Out: Don’t Be a Fast Food Giant
Eating out this holiday weekend, or anytime during the summer, the familiar and cheap can be alluring. Even the giants of fast food don’t have to be huge digressions from your commitment to eating healthily, if you are an educated consumer. Here are some things to keep in mind when perusing the fast food menus:
Think Twice About: A small Curly fries has 450 calories , 210 from fat! The numbers for the steakhouse onion rings are almost identical. Just two potato cakes will give you 250 calories, 140 from fat (15 g). The Roast Ham and Swiss sandwich has 710 calories and 30g of fat. Even a medium roast beef has 420 calories, 16 g of fat. Beware their Market Fresh® Sandwiches – each one is between 700-820 calories!
L.E.A.N. Options: There are a few salads and wraps on the menu, but a good choice is the Chopped Farmhouse Salad with turkey and ham, coming in at 250 calories without dressing. If you would prefer the Chopped Farmhouse Chicken Salad, substitute grilled chicken for fried. Just beware that all but the very simple Chopped Side Salad, has 14g of fat or more. Dressings will make this number climb, exponentially.
On their website you can create your meal and see just how many calories and fat you would be consuming with those choices. Arby’s Nutritional Information – www.arbys.com/nutrition
Think Twice About: A medium fries will set you back 440 calories, with 22g of fat and 670g of sodium. Just a plain Whopper will give you 670 calories, 40g fat, and a whopping (pun intended) 980mg of sodium. A small cheeseburger has 300 calories and 14g of fat while a BK® Double-Stacker has 560 calories, a horrible 36g of fat and a shocking 1040mg of sodium.
L.E.A.N. Options: It might come as a surprise to know that Burger King’s Whopper Junior without cheese or mayonnaise actually has fewer calories (340 calories) than the chain’s Tendergrill chicken sandwich without mayonnaise (520 calories). Another L.E.A.N. option is a garden salad with (300 calories) or without (140 calories) grilled chicken. Needles to say you will be better off if you choose a fat-free or reduced fat dressing. If you simply must have fries, you can now order them ‘unsalted’. Do so!
Burger King Nutritional Information: http://www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Think Twice About: One original recipe fried chicken breast packs in 320 calories, 15g of fat, and an immodest 710mg sodium. Extra Crispy is also extra calories at 510, with 33g of fat and almost half your daily dose of sodium, 1010mg. Keeping with our calorie-fat-sodium listings:
Large popcorn chicken is batting 550-35-1600; Crispy Twister® with Crispy strip is 560-24-1600. One of the worst dietary offenders to the L.E.A.N. eating is the Famous Bowls® Mashed Potato with Gravy. This bowl is all calories and sodium – 700 calories, 32g fat and an entire daily dose of sodium, 2260.
L.E.A.N. Options: Choose a Caesar or side salad (if you get the Caesar, ask for roasted chicken rather than crispy). Watch the dressings. If you use the entire packet it can more than double the calorie and fat content of your salad. For KFC chicken, grilled chicken is far better than the fried. For this option, the drumstick is a good choice – 80 calories, but still 4g of fat and 230mg sodium. The breast is not the worst offender with 210 calories, 8g of fat and a surprisingly high 460mg of sodium. The healthiest sides are green beans, corn on the cob, three bean salad and “Mean Greens”.
You have to download a pdf to see KFCs nutritional content. Go to: www.kfc.com/nutrition
Think Twice About: French fries are a comfort food. A medium fries at McDonald’s has 380 calories, 19g of fat and a modest 270mg of sodium. It almost goes without saying that the burgers are calorie offenders, but sodium takes a big hit, too. A Big Mac® has 540 calories, 29g of fat and 1040mg sodium; a Quarter Pounder with Cheese® is listed at 510 calories, 26g of fat and 1190mg sodium. One of the highest, but still not the highest in calories is the Angus Burger® with Bacon and Cheese. The nutritional information on the McDonald’s site shows this as having 790 calories, 29g of fat and an incredible 2070mg of sodium.
L.E.A.N. Options: McDonald’s has a fair selection of salads, but the savvy customer knows that that bacon, fried chicken and cheese make a salad as fattening and unhealthy as a burger. To correct this, order grilled chicken, not crispy, and be sure to get low-fat dressing. A premium salad with grilled chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing is around 260 – 360 calories. Side salads are always a simple, healthy alternative. For sandwich lovers, the basic hamburger has fewer calories (250) than a Premium Grilled Chicken Classic (420). Grilled Snack Wraps are also a better option, with 260 – 270 calories.
Like KFC, you have to take a look at the pdf listing of McDonald’s Nutritional Info. Go to McDonalds.com to access it.
Think Twice About: On this end of the spectrum, the 6-inch Feast has 550 calories, 23g of fat and a perplexing 2610mg of sodium. The Meatball Marinara is not much better with 580-23-1530. You might think, one cookie won’t hurt me. Well, these bad boys pack 200 calories each, with an average of 11g of fat and 150mg of sodium. Just say no!
L.E.A.N. Options: As fast food goes, Subway is one of the best choices. They have 8 6-inch subs with less than 6g of fat. And you can choose wholegrain bread, giving you a good dose of healthy fiber and omegas. The lowest calorie 6-inch is the Veggie Delight with just 230 calories, 2.5g of fat (compare that to KFC!) and 410mg of sodium The highest calorie content sub in this category is the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki still with a fairly modest 274 calories, 4.5g of fat but a surprising 1010mg of sodium. You see how it’s important to watch that nutritional information! Salads at Subway are very good options, with less than 200 calories, and 5g of fat. Watch the dressing, though, as always.
Subway now has an interactive site where you can explore their nutritional information.
Think Twice About: Beware of the healthy-sounding Fiesta® Taco Salad, which has a diet-busting 770 calories (avoid many of those by not eating the shell). Then there’s the Chipotle Steak Salad (I’m hoping they are using that term loosely!) that the Taco Bell site shows has 900 calories, 57g of fat and 1600mg of sodium.
L.E.A.N. Options: Taco Bell’s Fresco® Menu is made up of items with fewer than 400 calories and 9 grams of fat. The Fresco Style Chipotle Steak Salad zooms down to just 220 calories, 6 grams of fat. It’s still fairly high in sodium, however, with 930mg. Their chicken Ranch Taco Salad has very similar numbers: 240 calories, 5g of fat and 1080mg sodium.
You can check all the Taco Bell menu items at: http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/calculator
Think Twice About: I can’t remind you enough to be actively mindful of the nutritional information at restaurants. Once again we find a salad that’s pretty un-L.E.A.N. Wendy’s Baja Salad packs 550 calories, 33g of fat and 1610mg of sodium! That’s without dressing. The worst of the burgers is, of course, the Bacon Deluxe Triple. With this 3-patty sandwich loaded with bacon, cheese, and even onion rings, you will be eating 1150 calories, 73g of fat and 2030mg of sodium. Definitely something to think twice about.
L.E.A.N. Options: A couple good choices include the Mandarin Chicken Salad or the Chicken Caesar Salad. Both are under 200 calories without dressing or extras (such as croutons, or bacon). The Jr. Cheeseburger weighs in with 270 calories, and 11g of fat while the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap has just 260 calorie and 10g of fat. By far the L.E.A.N.-est option is the side salad. The Garden Side Salad has a mere 25 calories, NO fat and just 30mg sodium. Even the Cesar Side Salad only has 60 calories, 2g of fat and 95mg of sodium. Fill up on these, guilt free!
On the website, Wendy’s makes you go through each item individually to see the nutritional content. The idea is to build your meal, I suppose. You can get an at-a-glance pdf from their site, as well: http://wendys.com/food/NutritionLanding.jsp