Restaurants get a bad reputation for being high in calories, sodium and added sugars. If you want to learn how to make sure your restaurant order meets your fat loss goals, we’ve got you covered.
Wherever you go, you can definitely eat out and achieve your weight loss goals. When dining out, there are a few simple rules of thumb to make your choice as balanced as possible:
- Start with a lean protein option: Protein is filling, satiating and the most important food group to emphasize when you’re focused on weight loss.
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables: Vegetables provide meals with a higher volume and therefore more filling!
- Serving Size of the Remaining Carbohydrates and Fats: You don’t have to order the meal without sauce or dressing, but consider asking for these on the side so you have more control over the portion.
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you at five major chains. So let’s dive in!
per meal: 330 calories, 14 g total fat (2 g saturated), 1,160 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (5 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 14 g protein
Panera’s pick-two option offers the best of both worlds: soup and a sandwich. Their Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich (half) and Ten Vegetable Soup (cup) provide a filling balance of protein from chicken salad, hearty carbs in the form of sourdough bread, and tons of fiber and color to keep you feeling full longer.
If you need an extra boost for this meal, add an apple for some natural sweetness and extra fiber! In total, this order clocks in at about 330 calories.
It’s hard to beat that bang for your calorie buck!
Per portion: 600 calories, 46 g total fat (8 g saturated), 800 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 43 g protein I know you're thinking of the Bloomin' Onion here, but consider changing it this time!Trade the turf for the surf with Outback's Perfectly Grilled Salmon in their classic remoulade sauce. If you opt for asparagus here, this filling meal provides just 600 calories.
It will be hard to find a better choice on the menu when you consider that the Bloomin’ Onion has nearly 1,000 calories!
Per portion: 480 calories, 12 g total fat (2 g saturated), 1,370 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (6 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 57 g protein
Consider lighter fare at PF Changs with their? Ginger Chicken With Broccoli. This dish is similar to the much-loved Orange Chicken, but you get a delicious ginger-based sauce over your chicken for just 480 calories for the entire meal.
Considering how low-calorie the main course is, you may still have room to share an appetizer with your party! Start your order with steamed dumplings (460 calories) or spring rolls (390 calories) and walk away super satisfied! Note the high sodium content.
per meal: 480 calories, 19 g total fat (7 g saturated), 850 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 20 g protein
Don’t miss your favorite Italian cuisine with the classic shrimp scampi. This dish delivers your classic pasta dish with a lighter twist. For 510 calories in total, start with their famous house salad with dressing on the side. You are sure to feel full and satisfied here with plenty of room to start with a salad if you wish!
per meal: 550 calories, 23 g total fat (9 g saturated), 1,800 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (6 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 44 g protein
At other restaurants, steak usually means you’re craving a high-calorie treat. Not at Applebee’s with their 6-ounce Top Sirloin steak!
This lean steak choice and two solid sides (garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli) provide just 550 calories for a super filling and hearty menu option! Just pay attention to the high sodium content of the meal and make sure to adjust the rest of your day accordingly.
You may even want to save room to share a brownie bite with a friend! They have a mini brownie with a scoop of ice cream on the menu at just 350 calories!
Looking for more? We’ve done the legwork for you to order from the 5 best fast food restaurants.