Avid dieters will be the first to tell you that the key to successful weight loss includes cutting out the fat and upping your greens intake. Want to lose weight? Eat a salad. Want to get healthier? Eat a salad. Sounds like a safe bet, right? But what so many people don’t realize is just how deceiving a salad can be. Yes, that’s right, salads can be deceitful. Restaurants around the world have been adding a variety of salad choices to their menus as a “lighter option” for health-conscious patrons, when in most cases, those “healthy” salads can be far worse for you than a Big Mac at McDonalds.
Sure, an array of vegetables atop a bed of lettuce is nothing to go running for the hills over and is in fact, greatly encouraged. Not only are leafy greens great for a healthy diet, but they are also high in folic acid, which helps keep up our mental health as well. The concern comes when these leafy greens are topped with fried chicken, heaps of cheese, bacon bits, and way-too-many-to-ever-be-good-for-you tablespoons of high-fat dressing.
Let’s take a look at the basic nutritional facts of a McDonald’s Big Mac and compare that to some top calorie laden salads that you’d find at any major chain restaurant:
Now before you swear off salads for the rest of your life, it’s important to know why these salads are almost triple the calorie and fat content of a Big Mac and how you can modify your salads to keep them low calorie and keep you on track for your weight loss goals.
Tips for a Healthier Salad
For starters, most salads are drenched in high-fat dressing that adds an additional 500-700 calories. By simply asking for a healthier option such as olive oil and vinegar, on the side, you can save yourself almost the amount of calories to make up a Big Mac itself. Olive oil may be high in fat, but it is monounsaturated fatty acids. In other words, the good kind of fat.
Other major calorie factors to these 1000+ calorie salads are the high fat content cheeses smothered on top. By simply asking your server to hold the cheese, you can save a significant amount of calories. While you’re at it, skip the croutons too. To make your salad more filling and to maximize the calories you’re consuming, add lean protein. That does not mean fried chicken or bacon. Think fish, turkey, grilled chicken breast, eggs, and beans.
The Bottom Line
When ordering a salad, it’s important to really look in to all the ingredients these restaurants are adding. Don’t be afraid to read the nutritional facts and moderate for your benefit. Go wild and pile on the veggies, add some lean protein, and get your dressing on the side. If you remember those key tips, you and your salad can have a very honest and healthy relationship.
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