Yikes! 96% of chain restaurant entrees exceed nutrition recommendations

One reason it’s so hard to lose weight is because it’s so easy to eat way more food than we need, especially when eating out. That’s highlighted by a newly released study that looked at 30,923 menu items from 245 leading restaurant brands in the U.S. It found that 96% of them exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat or saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It’s not just fast food places either. In fact, family style restaurants served meals that averaged 271 more calories than fast food meals. One of the most heartbreaking findings was that specialty drinks for kids had more calories, fat and saturated fat than regular drinks on the menu, and the median number of calories in a kids drink was a staggering 430.

The study also found that appetizers were a major source of unneeded calories, averaging an unbelievable 813 per serving. That’s more than most full meals should contain for an average adult!

Being forewarned is forearmed though, and you can take some easy steps to ensure you’re not taking in more energy than you need at your meals:

  • Eat half the meal and take the other half to go, saving it for another day
  • Drink 2 big glasses of water and eat a small salad before your entree…you’ll eat less and feel more full
  • As soon as you feel full, clear the food from in front of you. Most people will eat food in front of them even if they’re not hungry
  • Upgrade your meal by asking for salad instead of fries, getting high-calorie condiments like mayo on the side where you can keep track of them better, and drinking water instead of sugar-laden drinks

The bottom line is, restaurants are in the business of selling food that’s profitable to them and not necessarily good for you, so make sure you’re looking out for yourself. In the immortal words of Corporal Hicks: “Stay frosty.”

(Fat Donald image from DonMak)


Posted May 22, 2012 @ 11:44 am | Tags: ,,

4 thoughts on “Yikes! 96% of chain restaurant entrees exceed nutrition recommendations

  1. Thanks for this article. It’s timely because I have been pretty much not eating out since I started fixing my food habits. The only way I do it is if I have MyFitnessPal on an app on my phone, and double check what I want to eat first.

    • That’s a great solution. Writing down what you eat or using an app like MyFitnessPal makes a huge difference.

  2. Pingback: Weighthacker » New CDC infographic shows you how crazy large food portions have become

  3. Pingback: Weighthacker Study: 3 easy things you can do to start losing weight now

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