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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are You Eating a Whopper Salad?

Pretend I'm yelling at you: "Salads are not healthy!"

Salads are one of the most common things people start to eat when they go on a "diet." (Going on a "diet" never works, but that's another blog post for another day.) But the eat-salad-and-lose-weight strategy is almost certain to backfire.

Yes, salads are full of raw vegetables that can be low in calories and full of fiber and micronutrients, but what determines whether a salad is healthy or not depends on what else you put on it.

Cheese. Bacon. Croutons. Eggs. Fruit. Nuts. Salad Dressing. These are all of the things that make a salad delicious, but also add tons of unnecessary calories.

Salad dressing is the most serious offender when it comes to ruining an otherwise healthy meal. Does anyone really use the suggested serving size? It's almost impossible to only use 2 tablespoons of ranch unless the salad can fit inside the palm of your hand.

Some salads are so loaded down with extra calories that you may as well eat a Whopper. Yes, that's right, a Whopper.

Check it out: A Whopper has 670 calories and 40 grams of fat. Believe it or not, adding enough toppings to a salad can yield similar stats.

Let's compare two lunch salads. One with all the fixings and one with fewer fixings.

Salad 1
3 cups of lettuce
3 ounces grilled chicken
1/2 chopped boiled egg
1/2 cup of cheese
4 Tbs croutons
1/4 cup cucumbers
1/4 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 cup mushrooms
1/2 ounce cashews
1 /4 of whole avocado
4 Tbs regular ranch dressing

Total approximate calories: 855
Total approximate fat grams: 65

Salad 2
3 cups lettuce
3 ounces grilled chicken
1/4 cup cucumbers
1/4 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 cup mushrooms
2 Tbs vinaigrette dressing

Total approximate calories: 210 calories
Total approximate fat grams: 8

It's obvious that Salad 2 is the better choice. Sure, you may not add every item listed under Salad 1 to your bowl, but you get the point. Too many extras can sabotage your good efforts.

When making a salad, try to add lots of vegetables, some protein -- like grilled chicken -- and use a vinaigrette dressing.

Vinaigrette dressings have fewer calories and fat than creamy dressings. An added bonus to the vinaigrette is that is spreads more evenly throughout the salad as compared to a thick creamy dressing.

Tiffiany Moore is a certified personal trainer and NANBF figure competitor. Read more at Questions or comments? E-mail Follow on Twitter at

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