In the daily, everyday 9-5 grind it is very easy to lose track of time and before you know, it’s your lunch break. Did you remember to pack a healthy lunch to compliment your hard work and dedication in the gym? Or did you forget your lunch at home and now you must decide which take-out spot is best for you. You may think the fast food restaurant down the block that serves salads might be a good choice. Salads may seem like the smart choice because of their healthy appearance. Before you make that decision let’s think it through, does this meal have adequate nutrients to provide you with fuel for your next grueling work out? Or are fast food salads just as bad as a burger and fries? Let’s take a closer look at some salads.
Chick-Fil-A: Grilled Chicken Market Salad. (200 calories, 6g fat, 15g carbs, 25g protein, 4g fiber, 650mg sodium, 8g sugar)
Panera Bread: Strawberry poppy seed salad with chicken (340 calories, 13g fat, 280mg sodium, 25g protein, 31 carbs, 6g fiber, 20g sugar)
McDonalds: Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad (350 calories, 8g fat, 37g protein, 650mg sodium, 27g carbs, 9g of sugar)
In many fast food salads across the board there is an abundance of sodium, fat, and sugar. Compared with other menu choices, these three salads were the best options in terms of their sodium levels and nutritional value. Sodium can cause water retention and severe dehydration which is why you should only consume 2,300 mg a day. Many adults consume in excess of 3,400 mg of sodium each day.
In comparison to other items on the menu, choosing a salad is one of the healthier options, but how can you make it better for you? Always go with grilled chicken over crispy; crispy chicken adds to the saturated fats that are dangerous to consume in excess. The extra breading increases the carbohydrate content and may cause blood sugar levels to spike. Be mindful of the portion of salad dressing; these salad dressings are filled with preservatives, sodium, and calories from fat. An easy swap is to go with just oil and vinegar. Ask for your salad without cheese to help reduce sodium and fat content.
Out of all the salads offered in fast food chains, these three made the list, so be very wary when ordering take out and always pay close attention to the nutrition facts.
By Brandon Ayala