For years Americans have turned to salads as a safe, low-calorie meal they can freely consume when trying to “lose weight” (which as you know I appropriately renamed “lose fat”). Many an office worker suffers through weeks of homemade salads or restaurant salad bars just to they can feel like they’re eating healthier and, more importantly, leaner.
Well the truth has been out for some time that depending upon what’s on or in your salad, as well as the dressing type and quantity, salads aren’t necessarily better for you than a lean hamburger and a few fries or even a glass of diet soda.
Currently, the hottest weight-loss food trend is Juices and Smoothies. Tumblr and Pinterest are weighed-down (pun intended) with hundreds of breakfast juice recipes. Sorry to burst another bubble, but ingesting a large quantity of fruit sugars, even if they are balanced out with chia seeds and spinach, can still pack on “sugar” calories that can turn into fat.
The point is that you really have to consider all aspects of your nutrition to know if something is healthy for you. Take the afore-mentioned morning smoothie. An average recipe might include an apple, banana, carrot, spinach, blueberries and chia seeds, and maybe even a dash of yogurt. Depending upon the size and quantity of items, there can be anywhere from 45-60 grams of sugar. The recommended daily amount of sugar an average adult should consume is about 25 grams (6 teaspoons). One smoothie and you’re double and that’s just breakfast!
Back to the salads, here’s some perspective for you: McDonald’s Chicken Caesar Salad is your pretty run of the mill Caesar (including croutons and creamy dressing) and comes in at 425 calories and 21.4 grams of fat. Their regular burger is only 253 calories and 7.7 grams of fat. Even if you added a small fries, while your calories would be a touch higher (459), your fat grams would only be 16.7.
Perhaps you already know that Chinese Chicken and Caesar Salads are the worst salads you can eat when it comes to lean and healthy nutrition. But did you know that even without croutons or wantons and ditching cream based dressings, if you load up a salad with nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, egg, quinoa, feta cheese, etc., you’re still consuming a lot of calories, sugars, and fat grams. Undoubtedly better for your insides than a Big Mac or anything from Taco Bell, but don’t be surprised if your fat loss slows down depending upon your habits and metabolism.
So next time you decide to clean up your nutrition, read labels and crunch numbers before you assume that juices and salads will get you to your goal. Ultimately, you’re always better off to eat moderate amounts of healthy foods, and exercise more rather than deny yourself something or over-consume something in it’s stead.
There’s a great article in the New Yorker about the detrimental effects of too much sugar. Click on the photo below to read it.