Quiz: Which Restaurant Meal Is Healthier?
Test your food I.Q.
Restaurants sure don't make it easy to eat right and maintain (or even less likely, lose) weight. Huge portions coupled with decadent ingredients you may not normally use in large quantities at home (hello, butter) means you end up consuming far more calories than you normally would—an average of 200 for each day you dine out, according to one recent study.
Even the dishes that seem like healthier choices can be sneaky sources of fat, sugar, and calories. Take this quiz to see if you can spot the smarter meals.
Which is healthier: Pancakes or bacon and eggs?
Bacon is full of sodium and artery-clogging saturated fat, while two eggs contain more cholesterol than you're supposed to consume in an entire day. But pancakes don't seem any better: a stack is high in calories to start, but then they soak up hundreds of additional calories from syrup and butter.
Pancakes vs. bacon and eggs
The winner: bacon and eggs
. You'll save more than 300 calories by ordering a plate of bacon and eggs, and you'll also get 30 grams of belly-filling protein that'll help you feel satisfied for hours. In fact, one study found that people who ate eggs for breakfast consumed 260 fewer calories over the course of the rest of the day than those who downed carb-rich foods, like pancakes. If you can't resist the pancakes, opt for a short stack with nonfat yogurt and berries on the side.
Pancakes (3 6-inch pancakes with 5 Tbsp. syrup and 2 pats of butter): 830 calories, 31 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 2 grams fiber, 15 grams protein
Bacon and eggs (2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 1 pat of butter): 492 calories, 29 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 5 grams fiber, 30 grams protein
Which is healthier: Nachos or Buffalo wings?
At the bar on a Saturday night, a plateful of nachos sounds pretty good after a few drinks, and they seem relatively healthy: the beans are a great source of fiber and protein and salsa is a low-calorie condiment. But what about the sour cream, cheese, and ground meat? Pile all those on top of a bed of tortilla chips and you could be in for calorie overload. The Buffalo wings, on the other hand, aren't so healthy, either: they're deep-fried and smothered in sauce.
Nachos vs. Buffalo wings
The winner: Buffalo wings.
The toppings are what do the nachos in: you'd take in more than a day's worth of calories by polishing off a whole plate. Buffalo wings are far from earning health food status, but with just blue cheese and a couple stalks of celery, you'd consume fewer calories in one sitting. Plus, you're less likely to blow through them—gnawing on just one wing takes time and effort. Just be sure to use the blue cheese sparingly.
Nachos: 1,340 calories, 78 grams fat (27 grams saturated), 22 grams fiber, 54 grams protein, 114 grams carbs
Buffalo wings: 850 calories, 65 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 1 gram fiber, 62 grams protein, 6 grams carbs
Which is healthier: Pasta or veggie pizza?
Pizza is greasy, smothered in cheese, and can be topped with fatty meats, so it seems like this one should be a no-brainer—but the answer might not be so clear-cut. A serving of noodles served with Parmesan and tomato sauce is just a half-cup, and many restaurants serve up more than six times that.
Pasta vs. veggie pizza
The winner: pizza.
A slice of pizza may be greasy, but at least you're getting automatic portion control. Plus, you can top your slice with mushrooms, peppers, and other veggies for added nutrition. Meanwhile, just because you can't see the fat in pasta doesn't mean it's not there. Most pasta sauces are a sneaky source of added sugar, and the ones that have oil and cream stirred in are huge fat bombs.
Pasta (with marinara and Parmesan): 820 calories, 23 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 8 grams fiber, 29 grams protein, 110 grams carbs
Pizza (two slices of a 12-inch veggie pie): 400 calories, 14 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 4 grams fiber, 16 grams protein, 54 grams carbs
Which is healthier: Chicken pad Thai or chicken lo mein?
The battle for healthiest Asian noodle takeout is a tough one. With both dishes, you're getting noodles drenched in a tangy sauce and some stir-fried veggies. With either choice, you're getting served up way more food than you should eat: most take-out containers hold about three servings.
Pad Thai vs. lo mein
The winner: chicken lo mein.
When you order Asian takeout, pass on the pad Thai. Pad Thai is mostly just noodles with very few veggies tossed in, not to mention everything's coated in a super-sugary sauce. Lo mein, on the other hand, is stir-fried with more veggies and a lower-calorie sauce, saving you up to 450 calories and 12 grams of fat.
Chicken pad Thai: 1,160 calories, 30 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 11 grams fiber, 45 grams protein, 153 grams carbs
Chicken lo mein: 710 calories, 18 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated), 7 grams fiber, 42 grams protein, 98 grams carbs
Which is healthier: Mojito or red sangria?
Time for happy hour! When you're craving a sweet sip, should you go with a refreshing, minty mojito, or fruity sangria? The clear, mint-laden mojito on the rocks seems like a light choice, but the sangria features chunks of nutritious fruit, and red wine has heart-healthy antioxidants.
Mojito vs. red sangria
The winner: sangria.
Don't be fooled by its refreshing flavor: a mojito has more empty calories from added sugar than a glass of sangria. Sangria gets a lot of its flavor from the nutritious apple or orange slices floating in your glass. And if you eat the fruit, the fiber will fill you up, slow down the absorption of alcohol, which may prevent you from placing an order of greasy bar food.
Mojito: 185 calories, 15 grams carbs, 13 grams sugar
Sangria: 160 calories, 1 gram fiber, 13 grams carbs, 10 grams sugar
Which is healthier: Beef taco salad or beef burrito?
This one seems like it should be a no-brainer—salads are healthy, right? These two meals are more evenly matched than you may expect, however. Although the burrito is wrapped in a carb- and calorie-heavy tortilla and stuffed with cheese and meat, a taco salad is usually served in a deep-fried tortilla shell and topped with what one nutritionist calls the " Mexican-food fat trifecta": cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
Beef taco salad vs. beef burrito
The winner: beef burrito.
Don't let the word "salad" fool you into thinking this dish is a wise choice. Iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value, and the fattening toppings more than make up for the calories you save by skipping the tortilla. A beef burrito with meat, cheese, rice, and beans has more protein, less than half the fat, and fewer calories than a taco salad.
Beef taco salad: 995 calories, 60 grams fat (18 grams saturated), 19 grams fiber, 37 grams protein, 71 grams carbs
Beef burrito: 775 calories, 25 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 10 grams fiber, 40 grams protein, 99 grams carbs