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Fast Food Fixes

Quick, cheap, and convenient are the trademarks of “fast food”. Unfortunately, fast food is also usually high in calories, fat, refined carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. If you only eat fast food occasionally (as in once every two to three months), then no harm is done. But if you eat fast food several times a week, you may be consuming more calories than you need.

If you are interested in minimizing the caloric damage, here are tips for keeping things under control.

Downsize
The fastest way to cut down on calories is to choose a smaller portion. One McDonald’s hamburger has 280 calories, a quarter pounder has 430 calories, while a
Big Mac has 590. You save 310 calories by choosing a hamburger over the Big Mac.

Choosing a smaller size of French fries will also help save you calories. A small McDonald’s French fries contains 210 calories, the medium size has 450 while the large size has 540 calories and the super size has 610.

These calorie calculations are more or less similar to the same size products of other fast food chains.

High calorie extras.
The “extras” like mayonnaise, cheese, and gravy mean extra calories. For example, a quarter pounder with cheese has an additional 90 calories. Here is a quick list of common condiments usually found in fast food restaurants (calories per one packet).

· Ketchup – 10 calories
· Barbecue sauce, hot mustard sauce, honey mustard – 50 calories
· Mayonnaise – 95 calories
· “Secret sauce” (usually a mix of gravy and spices) – 50 to 100 calories.

Salad - burger in a bowl?
In an attempt to offer consumers healthier choices, some fast food restaurants now have salads on their menu. But even though low-calorie fresh greens are the foundation of a salad, after adding extras like fried chicken strips, croutons, and salad dressing, you can end up eating what one nutritionist has called “a burger in a bowl”. In other words, a salad with all the trimmings can have as many or more calories than a large cheeseburger.

Salad dressing can contain anywhere from 160 to 230 calories per packet. Stay in control by keeping the dressing on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing then spear your salad greens.

A packet of garlic croutons has 50 calories. Meanwhile, fried chicken strips or nuggets can contain from 200 to 280 calories.

Watch out for any salad made with mayonnaise since these tend to be high in calories. Examples are potato salad, cole slaw and macaroni salad.

Pizza
Very few people will eat more than one burger at a time but many people will reach for a second slice of pizza. In fact, it takes a lot of willpower not to have that second serving. Well, depending on the type of pizza you order, you can be consuming more calories than eating two or three plain hamburgers if you eat several slices.

One slice (1/8 of a medium pizza pie) of a thin crust multi-meat pizza with cheese has 270 calories. If you order the thick crust version, the caloric count jumps to 340 calories. By having several slices, you can see how eating your way to 1,000 calories in one sitting is not too far-fetched.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), several ways to cut down on pizza calories is to choose the thin crust over thick, order half the cheese, and choose vegetable toppings over meat.

When ordering meat toppings, the CSPI says that chicken and ham are the best caloric choices followed by pepperoni. Sausage, pork and beef toppings have the highest number of calories.

If you are serious about calorie counting, the CSPI recommends staying away from “stuffed crust” pizza. According to CSPI nutritionist Jayne Hurley, “You need cheese stuffed into a pizza crust like you need reverse liposuction to force more fat under your skin”.

Chicken or fish not always low in calories.
Chicken and fish are better calorie choices but only if the chicken or fish is grilled, broiled or roasted. Breaded and fried chicken or fish sandwiches can be the caloric equivalents of a cheeseburger.

When eating a grilled chicken sandwich, be aware of what kind and how many condiments you are adding because you can tack on 100 to 200 calories.

When eating fried chicken, the drumstick seems to have the fewest calories. Here is the caloric content of KFC’s Original Recipe fried chicken:
· Whole wing – 150
· Breast – 380
· Thigh – 360
· Drumstick – 140

Don’t drown in liquid calories
A smart way to save calories when you eat in a fast food restaurant is to drink water instead of a drink that is high in sugar or to choose a smaller size drink. Check out these caloric counts:

· Small soft drink – 150
· Medium soft drink – 210
· Large soft drink – 310
· Super size soft drink – 410

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