Everyone know that fast food is unhealthy. Of course, some fast food is better than others and it is possible to get a reasonably healthy meal at a fast food restaurant. But if you are concerned about calories, fat, added sugar, and sodium in your diet, fast food probably isn’t the best choice.
Eating at a casual dining restaurant such as Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, and T.G.I. Friday’s must be healthier, right? Think again! My Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week addresses this issue.
According to data collected by one of my students, Kyle Sprow, this is not always the case.
He compared a typical meal from McDonald’s, Subway, and Applebee’s. The Applebee’s menu includes Weight Watchers low-calorie options in addition to the regular menu items, so he looked at both. We chose these restaurants because of their popularity and because their menus are consistent with other similar restaurants.
He was able to compare typical fast food (McDonald’s), “healthy” fast food (Subway), a typical meal at a casual dining restaurant (Applebee’s regular menu), and healthy options at the same restaurant (Weight Watchers menu). Here is what he found:
- The sit-down restaurant meal is likely to be higher in calories and fat than fast food. This is due in part to large portion sizes.
- A meal at Subway may be lower in calories and fat than a meal at McDonald’s, but depends on what type and size of sandwich (and condiments) you choose.
- The Weight Watchers menu at Applebee’s really is much lower in fat and calories than the regular menu, even better than Subway.
- No matter where you eat, you are likely to get a lot of sodium in your meal, at least 50% of your daily recommended intake even if you chose the “healthy” options.
So, what will you have for lunch today?