BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – One study indicates that every year, approximately 45 million Americans try to lose weight by going on a diet.
In other words, millions of Americans are swapping out more fattening meals for salads.
But could there be a case where a salad is more fattening than a fast food meal?
Health experts say this can happen.
According to Kathleen Trotter, a personal trainer who contributed a related piece to the Huffington Post, “We need to become aware of sneaky foods that seem healthy but that end up stealthily sabotaging progress.”
These sneaky foods, which are often laden with unhealthy fats or an overabundance of sugar, can make an appearance in our salads and turn a potentially nutritious meal into a less than stellar choice.
If you’re looking to slim down or maintain a healthy weight, just below are four culprits to look out for and avoid should you see them on a salad. This list also includes four healthier alternative salad options from local fast food restaurants.
#1 Salads With ‘Crispy’ Chicken
Essentially, this means fried chicken has been added to your salad. According to WebMD, words like “‘crispy’ and ‘crunchy’ are red flags. These words are code for breaded and deep-fried, which can turn that healthy-sounding salad into a calorie bomb. What’s worse, research shows that eating a lot of fried foods can raise your chances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
The Healthier Alternative: Panera’s Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken
According to Eating Well, this meal features romaine lettuce, chicken, almonds, sesame seeds, wonton strips, cilantro and an Asian sesame vinaigrette. It has 410 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 29 carbs.
#2 Salads With Bacon
While bacon is one of America’s favorite foods, Very Well Fit advises consuming it in moderation. The website says, “The bacon loaded on top of your favorite salad might add a whopping 400 calories and 30 grams of fat to the total nutrition… So skip the salty, fatty toppings and add crunch and flavor with nutritious, lower-calorie savory vegetables like radishes or peppers.”
The Healthier Alternative: Chipotle’s Steak Salad with Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables, and Salsa
If you have a craving for a meaty salad, Eating Well suggests this option from Chipotle. It comes with a mix of salad greens, black beans, steak and fajita vegetables.
To cut down on calories, swap dressing for Chipotle’s tomatillo-green chili salsa, which is just as flavorful as dressing but without the additional 220 calories.
This salad has 330 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 35 carbs.
#3 Salads Loaded With Creamy Dressings
Creamy Dressings can give salads a rich and intense flavor that sings to the taste buds.
But the burst of flavor often comes at an expense. Very Well Fit points out that Blue Cheese dressing typically has 146 calories and 15 grams of fat, and Ranch dressing typically has 126 calories with 14 grams of fat, while Thousand Island Dressing’s caloric content often clocks in at 114 and comes with 11 grams of fat.
So, if you’re looking to cut down on calories, health experts suggest either sticking to a healthy vinaigrette or filling your salad bowl with naturally rich ingredients that taste so good they don’t even need dressing.
The Healthier Alternative: Subway’s Tuna Salad
Surprising as it may seem to see Subway suggested as a healthier option, when the ingredients for this salad are carefully selected, you may find yourself with a flavorful and nutritious meal that doesn’t require a drop of salad dressing.
According to Eating Well, “The classic tuna salad mix sits atop a bed of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, olives and cucumbers for a veggie-packed lunch or dinner. Plus, tuna provides a great dose of omega-3s, which support heart health and reduce inflammation.”
This salad has 362 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 10 carbs.
#4 The Iceberg Wedge Salad
When a salad is little more than a wedge of iceberg lettuce that’s been sprinkled with a few onions and blue cheese, this may be light eating but WebMD warns that it, “falls short in the nutrition department. That’s because iceberg lettuce contains fewer vitamins and minerals than most dark leafy greens.”
The body needs fuel to keep going, and this salad may not be the greatest source of fuel.
The Healthier Alternative: Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Market Salad
The Grilled Market Salad at Chick-fil-A is light, refreshing, and packed with the nutrients you need to keep going.
According to the Today Show‘s blog, this salad is, “loaded with nutrient rich ingredients including grilled chicken breast served on a fresh bed of mixed greens, topped with crumbled blue cheese and a mix of red and green apples, strawberries and blueberries.”
The Market Salad has 330 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 27 carbs.
The ‘healthier alternative’ salads listed above are typically budget-friendly and available at fast food locations in Baton Rouge.
So, if you’re in the capital area and aiming to slim down, hopefully the tips above will come in handy.