Blog · Nutrition

Chain Restaurant Calorie Count

healthy-fast-foodEver browsed a menu at a chain restaurant and seen the “healthy” section? You know the ones, with the listed calories beside it so you feel you are in control? Well, you might not be. A study done by Consumer Reports tested 12 restaurants on their so-called healthy eats and found that they may not actually be so healthy.

Seventeen food items were chosen from the restaurants, and they were put to the test. Each dish was weighed per serving, and three items were tested from three different restaurants in each chain.

Some claims were more truthful than others. For example, take Olive Garden. Its website claims the dish Lasagna Primavera is 420 calories with 15 grams of fat, but the test revealed that it actually contains between 508 and 585 calories, with between 25 and 32 grams of fat. Doesn’t sound so healthy now, does it? Another dish that was ruled as fictitious was Outback Steakhouse’s Chicken on the Barbie. The dish is claimed to have 7 grams of fat, but it turns out that it actually has 10 to 13 grams.

In other cases, the dish didn’t weigh in the same at different locations of the same chain. Take Denny’s, who was 2 out of 3 for their claim on one dish. The Fit Slam claimed to have 390 calories and 12 grams of fat, and though this was true for two of the chain’s locations, at a third the dish contained 494 calories and 19 grams of fat. The reason behind the calorie and fat fluctuations may be due to differing serving sizes. Portion sizes varied at many of the restaurants included in the study, Dennys, Applebee’s, and Red Lobster being the biggest culprits.

The verdict? Most of the restaurants came out clean. But some dishes, such as Cheesecake Factory’s 2-pound meatloaf dish, had over 2,000 calories and 132 grams of fat, which exceeds all recommended daily amounts. Watch out, and don’t always trust the menu!

By Aisling Williams

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