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The New Restaurant Fat Traps

A lean cut of steak can have the same calories as fish like tuna or salmon — but beware of additives like butter, oil and sauce.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Smaller plates don’t always mean fewer calories
  • Ask your server how the food is prepared and with what ingredients
  • Don’t forget to consider portion sizes, even with artful presentations
  • Not all salads are free calories; create your own with dressing on the side

(Health.com) — In our quest to eat light, we know to pass up artery cloggers like fettuccine Alfredo in favor of leaner picks like pasta pomodoro; we regularly order sauce on the side and veggies instead of fries.

Problem is, “everything at a restaurant is 10 times more decadent than what you make at home,” says Adam Roberts, author of the book “Secrets of The Best Chefs.”

So even the healthy-seeming fare can pack surprisingly high calorie counts. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat at home every night (as if!). We grilled chefs and registered dietitians about the trends and dishes that can doom your stay-slim efforts. Commit them to memory and you’ll never again fear a restaurant meal.

Surprise #1: Butter may be better

You feel oh-so-virtuous dipping your bread in heart-healthy olive oil, but dunking can be a waistline wrecker.

“It’s still all fat and it’s calorie dense, and bread soaks it up like a sponge,” says Wendy Bazilian, author of the book “The SuperFoods RxDiet.” Dip and devour two slices and you’ll be at around 380 calories or “75 to 90 percent of what most women should have for the whole meal,” notes Cynthia Sass, author of the book “S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim.” Butter is easier to keep track of (a thumbnail-size pat is about 45 calories), but it contains saturated fat.

Solution: Go with heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, but add balsamic vinegar to cut fat and calories and amp up the flavor, says Keri Gans, author of the book “The Small Change Diet.” Drizzle it on with a fork.

Health.com: Best superfoods for weight loss[1]

Surprise #2: Little plates don’t mean little calories

When tapas made their way from Spain to the States, they became supersized — and, often, super-fried: An order of patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy mayo) weighs in at around 500 calories; three ham croquettes are 570. Even lighter-seeming pesto shrimp and avocado crostini can run 640 calories per order.

“Plus, with tapas, most people don’t feel full because they’re not sitting down to an actual meal,” Gans says. “Psychologically, they don’t fill you up as much.”

Ditto the little plates at Mediterranean restaurants (a caprese salad consisting of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil drizzled with olive oil can be 400 calories) and the small plates at Korean restaurants (fried spring rolls and coconut shrimp). They’re all calorie bombs.

Solution: Look for the word grilled, suggests Ori Menashe, chef-owner of Bestia in Los Angeles, where most of the small plates on the menu feature grilled seafood. When ordering two appetizers instead of an entre, make sure one is protein and one is veggies, so you feel satisfied and don’t splurge on a third (less wholesome) mini dish.

Health.com: 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day[2]

Surprise #3: Chefs are trained to make us gain

You care about calories. We care about calories. That chef in the kitchen? Not so much.

“When I’m developing a menu, I think about what tastes good,” says Missy Robbins, executive chef at A Voce restaurants in New York. That’s not to say she and other chefs use only high-cal, flavor-adding ingredients like cream and butter — they also use broths and herbs. But “the default method to make food taste better is to add more fat and salt,” Roberts says.

Solution: Before ordering, ask, “Is there cream or butter in this dish?” Don’t trust the menu description, because it rarely mentions the full prep.

9 ways to keep it healthy when eating out[3]

Surprise #4: Veggies can be fat-fests

Steamed veggies will never be a total disaster. (You’re getting fiber and antioxidants, after all!) Still, know this: Top chefs often finish them in a saut pan with a slick of butter or oil to amp up flavor, says chef Jonathan Rollo of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop in Beverly Hills, California. The latest craze with veggies and salads is to toss them with bacon or bacon drippings … without mentioning it on the menu.

Solution: Order everything using the code word for un-fooled-around-with: dry. That way you can control your calorie count. And keep in mind that vegetables with a soft interior — eggplant and mushrooms — absorb more fat than root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips. Better yet, look for “pickled vegetables” on the menu. They may pack a lot of sodium, but they’re low in fat.

Health.com: Need more fiber? Try these foods [4]

Surprise #5: An artful presentation will throw off your big-portion detector

Gorgeously plated meals may look fabulous, but they can make you underestimate how much food is in front of you. A large serving suddenly looks teensy on a huge platter or piled up high in a tower of calorie terror. Starters like that Tex-Mex guilt trip known as Seven-Layer Bean Dip or desserts such as cobbler served in a Mason jar make it hard to figure out how much you’re actually eating.

Jackie Newgent, author of the book “1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes,” had been served something in a Mason jar enough times that she finally took a measuring cup to one. Turns out, it holds about two cups — at least twice as much as a standard serving.

Solution: Use what you’ve got on you to get a proper-portion check. Lean protein should be no bigger than your smartphone; a serving of carbs should be the size of your fist, much smaller than the average pasta entre.

“Even if it doesn’t say so on the menu, most restaurants will do any pasta entre as an appetizer,” Robbins says. As for anything that’s served in a Mason jar, split it.

Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat[5]

Surprise #6: Steak isn’t always a mistake

Red meat tends to get a bad rap, but when you order a lean cut, such as a filet or sirloin, it contains about the same calories as oily fish like tuna and salmon — especially when you consider portion size, says Newgent. “A lot of times, you’ll be served an 8-ounce portion of salmon and a 5-ounce portion of beef,” she says. “Calorie-wise, the beef is better.” Of course, the whole equation changes when either is served with even a little butter, oil, or sauce.

Solution: Ask the waiter to serve yours without. Better yet, request a side order of grilled lemon, lime, or another citrus fruit, suggests Troy Guard, chef/owner of TAG, TAG Raw Bar, and TAG Burger Bar in Denver. “Squeeze it on top of steak, fish, veggies — it gives it a punch.”

Surprise #7: Salads aren’t free calories

You know, of course, that cobb and Caesar salads can be fat traps. But mixed green salads can also do damage. One with goat cheese, pears, and candied walnuts, for instance, can set you back 500 calories.

Solution: Do as Victoria Beckham used to do when she dined at hotspot Angelini Osteria in Los Angeles: custom-create. “She would suggest her own salad and order it with dressing on the side,” says Menashe, the restaurant’s former chef. He and other chefs say you don’t have to be an A-lister to make special orders — especially if you’re just trying to have a healthier meal out.

Gut-busting restaurant meals named ‘dis-honorees'[6]

Copyright Health Magazine[7] 2011

References

  1. ^ Health.com: Best superfoods for weight loss (www.health.com)
  2. ^ Health.com: 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day (www.health.com)
  3. ^ 9 ways to keep it healthy when eating out (www.cnn.com)
  4. ^ Health.com: Need more fiber? Try these foods (www.cnn.com)
  5. ^ Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat (www.health.com)
  6. ^ Gut-busting restaurant meals named ‘dis-honorees’ (www.cnn.com)
  7. ^ Health Magazine (www.health.com)

Original Story Here

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Comments

  1. Reply

    What Are Some Good Ab Exercises? I’m really skinny and I really don’t have any fat in the abdomen area, but I’m trying to get my abs defined. A lot of the articles for ab exercises I’m seeing have things like “fat loss tips for great abs”. Since I don’t need to lose fat, I’m wondering if I need to do different kinds of exercises than what those articles are suggesting.
    I’m also doing cardio exercises. Should I do ab exercises before or after I do cardio? Or should I do them at completely separate times?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • March 20, 2013
      Reply

      They say so, because you do have fat on top of your abs, you just do not need to lose it anywhere else. Or little flab.
      jogging is an excellent exercise because it let you tone throughout your whole body. If you want to tone in
      specific areas, you should target them with exercises. If they are
      your problem areas, they will be very difficult to tone. You will have
      to work double on them. The best approach is this:
      1. Lower/control your daily calorie intake (control for normal
      weight, lower for overweight).
      2. Run/jog to lower your overall body fat percentage.
      3. Target your problem areas with exercises.
      an excellent exercise, you can do it in front of your TV: sit on a
      stool, and put your toes under something (piece of heavy furniture,
      for example). In your hands hold a little dumbbell. Please, make sure
      that it is not very heavy, start with one kilo, for example, or you
      will damage your back and spine! Slowly move the upper part of your
      body back, until it’s parallel with the ground. Stop for a second and
      move it back to the sitting position. Repeat ten times. Every week add
      to the number of repetitions. You will see the results in a week,
      guaranteed! You will see or feel under the fat – if you have any – six
      pack and muscles. Dumbbells do wonders. Much better than these
      crunches – I came up to three hundreds and there was no results AT
      ALL. With the dumbbells you will see it in a week.

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    How Do I Get In Shape Over The Summer? I weigh 130 plus pounds and I’m 13 years old. But the 130 pounds is mostly fat. By fall when school starts again, I want to have lost some fat and gained some muscle. Every day I play DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) on difficult, and it is difficult, I sweat my butt off every time. I also go to the pool and swim 24 laps every other day. But I haven’t seen any results. Should I keep doing what I’m doing, or should I add something on? Please give me some fat loss tips, thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • March 20, 2013
      Reply

      First of all…good for you for working out and taking charge of your health. I am sure you are a beautiful person.
      How’s your diet?
      Are you eating enough protein? Are you eating a lot of empty carbs like pastries….? How’s your sugar intake?
      Sometimes the scale doesn’t change but our bodies do. Try taking measurements. I had lost 13 inches off of my body….but only 10 lbs on the scale.
      Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat.
      Keep a food journal – it will hold you accountable. Look up online how many calories you should eat based on your age, height, weight, and activity level.
      Hope this helps sweetie and best wishes.

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    What Should I Be Careful About When Buying Fat Loss Supplements? I am going to start going to the gym after a year of absence, and I want to lose the weight I gained fast. I’ll buy supplements like proteins, vitamins etc. I’ll also buy fat loss supplements, but as I’ve never bought these before, I don’t know which ones to get.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • March 20, 2013
      Reply

      You got it right, avoid the supplements with ephedra and other stimulants such as caffein. If you are looking for the best way to loose weight, check out this blog

      http://best-fat-loss-tips.blogspot.com/

      Here you can learn the secrets how to loss fat permanently

      Hope this help,

      View Comment
  4. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • March 20, 2013
      Reply

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      Breakfast:
      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Lunch:
      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Snack:
      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Dinner:
      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

      View Comment
  5. Reply

    What Is The Best 12-week Diet Plan For Fat Loss? As the weather gets warmer we become more self-conscious about our weight. Since summer is right around the corner it is time to get our fat loss diet in check.

    What is the best 12-week diet plan for fat loss?

    What is a reasonable amount of weight to lose in 12 weeks?

    What are some important tips for someone who wants to lose the fat, but maintain their muscle gains?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • March 20, 2013
      Reply

      Of course, there are a huge number of weight loss blogs to choose from. There are a number of medically supervised and very expensive calorie restricted programs costing thousands of dollars, however, that doesn’t make these programs effective. According to Gina Kolata, who did extensive research on the topic, the most popular diets are also ineffective for the vast majority of people over an extended period of time. If you embark on a 12-week diet, you will lose weight for the first 12-weeks and then re-gain the weight after that.

      To be effective, you must embark on a permanent lifestyle change that includes a radically different way of eating. I lost 90 pounds and kept it off without having to pay anyone for anything.I read “Eat More, Weigh Less” by Dr. Dean Ornish. Former President Bill Clinton reversed his heart disease and lost 25 pounds by eating the same low-fat whole plant based diet. His was supervised by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. at the Cleveland Clinic.

      My advice is to go to the web sites of the following experts to seek help:

      Professor Emeritus T. Colin Campbell of Cornell (he wrote “The China Study”)
      Dr. Neal Barnard (“Food for Life”)
      Dr. Joel Fuhrman (“Fasting and Eating for Health”)
      Dr. John McDougall (“The McDougall Plan”)
      Dr. Dean Ornish (“The Spectrum”)
      Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. (“Forks Over Knives”)

      The “Whole Plant Based Diet” is the program that is ideal for optimal health and maintaining an ideal weight. It’s a lifestyle change, not a pill or a quick fix. If you are not in it for the long-term, your weight loss will not last.

      You can very easily lose 1/2 pound per week if you choose foods carefully and avoid commercially processed food like products. If you choose a medically supervised fast, you can expect to lose about 2 pounds per week of fat (the other weight is water weight and will come back on your body after the fast ends).

      Instead of dairy, choose leafy greens containing iron, calcium, and protein. Eat whole grains (brown rice, quinoa) and ligumes (peas, beans, lentils) for additional proteins. Take a B12 and D supplement if you go vegetarian.

      Instead of meat, pork, fish, poultry, eggs, or any other form of animal based foods, take the foods listed in the paragraph above and eat ground flax seed for Omega-3 Essential fatty acids. Otherwise, you do not need to eat any form of oil or fat. Even virgin olive oil contains saturated fats which are unhealthy for your cardiovascular system. A gram of fat/oil contains 9 calories and can increase your appetite.

      Eat lots of raw and cooked vegetables, and some whole fruits every day. Avoid commercially processed drinks that might contain refined sugar or artificial flavors (aspartame and MSG cause weight gain due to their effect on appetite).

      If you want to maintain muscle mass, learn free weight training. A pound of muscle is the energy equivalent to seven pounds of fat. Read about “vegan” body builders and athletes who focus on endurance sports. (Rip Esselstyn wrote an excellent cook book called the “Engine 2 Diet.” He and his father were world class athletes.)

      You can ignore most health information on commercial media. I have found that it is almost always misleading. Please read the publications of some of the independent experts listed above. Former President Bill Clinton reversed his heart disease and lost 25 pounds by following the advice of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. of the Cleveland Clinic.

      You can do this on your own, but if you want an optimal weight loss, I suggest that you follow a medically supervised water fast. Dr. Joel Fuhrman is the world’s leading authority on this. If you can get into one of his programs, that is ideal. Remember, for the diet to be effective you must change your eating habits for life.

      View Comment

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