Low-Calorie Restaurant Meals Busted

In a scary bit of diet detective work, a group of television stations across the country ordered "healthy" entrees from a number of chain restaurants, sent them to a lab for nutritional testing, and found out that the meals may actually contain more fat and calories than menus indicate—in some cases, two or three times more!


In a scary bit of diet detective work, a group of television stations across the country ordered "healthy" entrees from a number of chain restaurants, sent them to a lab for nutritional testing, and found out that the meals may actually contain more fat and calories than menus indicate—in some cases, two or three times more! Chilis Guiltless Grill Salmon should have 480 calories and 14 grams of fat, for instance, but the salmon tested had 664 calories and 35 grams of fat. So how can you be sure youre getting the diet-friendly lunch you ordered? Here, three tips from Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com and a food-industry expert.

Ask about oil. Chinese restaurants may use cooking oil plus sesame oil for flavor—and just one extra teaspoon will add 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Ask the server to tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs.

Go naked. If you order grilled fish, ask for it to be prepared without butter. Be just as specific with steamed veggies and other healthy picks.

Bring the dressing. Love salads? Bring your favorite low-cal dressing from home. Restaurant dressings on the side are OK, but use them sparingly unless youre sure of their fat content.
Last Updated: October 19, 2008

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