is that salad really healthy?
By Judy Torel
“Which is more important to weight loss….exercise or eating?”
If I hear that question once, I hear it hundreds of times. My response is always the same. Exercise and eating are equally important for successful weight loss and maintenance, however, it takes an hour of running on a treadmill to burn around 800 calories and it takes less then 10 minutes to eat that back and then some! This makes the eating side of the equation the side that will most easily tip the scale in the wrong direction!
Eating out is where many of us are consuming more calories then we burn in a day, let alone a single exercise session. Most of my clients will argue that they are not eating a lot of calories when they eat out. It then becomes my job to find what I call the “blind spots” in their out-to dinner choices.
Read on to see if you have fallen victim to any of my “food porn” out–to–dinner entrees.
One of the menu items that many of my clients choose when trying to make a low calorie, healthy choice is the infamous Chicken Caesar Salad. How can you go wrong with a salad that comes with strips of white meat chicken, right?
Wrong! Chili’s Chicken Caesar Salad with the dressing comes in at a whopping 1,010 calories per serving (this is without the cracker or garlic toast)! I have clients who think that a salad is a “free food”, going back to the earlier days of Weight Watchers when vegetables were unlimited.
One way you can doctor this choice so that it doesn’t wipe out the last two days of cardio workouts is to order the salad with the dressing on the side. This will help to knock off a portion of the 684 calories that comes from fat.
Even better, choose the Classic Sirloin at 560 calories and have it with steamed broccoli at 80 calories or Kettle Black Beans with Pico de Gallo sauce at 115 calories.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Well, it’s Italian but if you order a chicken or fish dish and avoid the pasta then you probably can keep the calories within a reasonable amount, right?
Wrong! Seared Sea Scallops on a salad registers 1,320 calories! Even without the dressing this entrée is 1,060 calories.
Then maybe the Chicken Marsala is the wiser choice. Well, coming in at 1,090 for the dinner entrée, you would need to head to the gym for a 90-minute cardio workout to negate the calories.
Think the Eggplant Parmigiano may be better? After all, it is a vegetable dish, right?
Wrong again! At 1,240 calories for the dinner serving, you better set your alarm extra early to work off the calories in this meal.
The menu lists Pollo Magro or “Skinny Chicken” entrée at 330 calories including the side dishes. This is one of the few entrees that come close to a reasonable calorie intake.
Ruby Tuesday just introduced a new burger called the Colossal Burger. Nutrition Action Newletter dubbed this entrée as “Extreme Eating”. At 1,943 calories and 1,269 fat calories, you would have to spend two hours and 30 minutes doing intense cardio to even begin to balance the damage of this burger!
Think the Bison Burger is a better choice? After all, Bison is wild and lean. Well, it is better then the Colossal, but at 1,072 calories and 639 calories from fat, it is far from a good choice.
Maybe the Portobello Swill Turkey Burger then? Guess again! This entrée comes in at 1,038 calories and 558 from fat!
A wiser choice at Ruby Tuesday would be a bowl of White Bean Chicken Chili (218 calories) with Creamy Mashed Cauliflower (166 calories).
Another good choice would also be the Top Sirloin. At 256 calories with a side of steamed broccoli (129 calories) and a baked potato (160 calories) with 1/2 tablespoon of butter (50 calories), it is a comprehensive meal containing protein, carbs and fat all at under 600 calories, which is reasonable for dinner.
You can’t go wrong with a Sierra Turkey Sandwich or the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich as a low calorie lunch, right?
Wrong! The Sierra Turkey Sandwich hits the scales at 950 calories 486 from fat! The Tuscan Chicken Sandwich is a little better at 720 calories and 243 from fat. A McDonald’s Big Mac is 560 calories and 270 from fat. All of these sandwiches require a minimum of 60 minutes of hardcore cardio work on the Stairmaster in order to break even in the calorie in/calorie out equation.
A healthy option is one of the low fat cups of soup, such as the Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean at 160 calories for 8 ounces. Combine it with half the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad at 450 calories and save the second half for tomorrow’s lunch!
Breakfast on the run is as American as apple pie in our fast paced culture. So if you are trying to lose weight what would be better with your favorite coffee than a reduced fat blueberry muffin with nothing on it, right?
Guess again. Granted, the reduced fat muffin at 400 calories and 45 calories from fat is a better choice then the regular blueberry muffin at 470 calories and 150 calories from fat. And, it is definitely a better choice then the corn muffin at 510 calories and 160 calories from fat (this does not include added butter!).
But did you know that you can order the egg and cheese English muffin sandwich at 280 total calories and pick up 14 grams of satisfying protein with only 80 calories from fat?
The egg sandwich will get you through to lunch. The dry low fat muffin? I will bet money you will consume a few handfuls of the M&M’s on your co-worker’s desk before mid-morning because there is not enough protein or fat for any lasting satiation. Both cancel out the 50-minute elliptical workout you did the night before at the gym.
I’m not saying you can’t eat out or that you should constantly be striving to work off every calorie you consume through exercise. Both calorie consciousness and exercise go hand-in-hand when trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. The point of this article is to illustrate how easy it is to ingest high calorie meals, especially when dining out. So if you want your workouts to lead to weight loss, you must work on increasing your knowledge and awareness of the calorie component of what you are eating, especially when you are not cooking it!
You can google the name of any restaurant and click on “nutritional information” to find out the calorie amounts of their menu items.
Judy Torel is a therapist/personal trainer with a Master’s degree in psychology. She is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a fitness trainer and works out of Planet Fitness and Deb's Sweat Shop Extension. She can be reached at JTOREL2263@yahoo.com