I’m a dietician – here’s the worst menu picks at McDonald’s, KFC, Five Guys and Domino's (and what to choose instead) | The Sun07/25/2022
A DIETICIAN has revealed the worst menu picks at top UK restaurants, and what to eat instead.
Most leading chains have healthier options that mean you can still eat out but not consume thousands of excess calories.
You have likely noticed that large restaurants now have to print the calories of each meal on their menus.
Many people find it offputting, especially as they want to enjoy a treat meal out without feeling nagged.
But it’s a useful tool for people who are genuinely concerned about their weight.
The Government implemented the rule to tackle the country’s escalating obesity crisis.
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Sarah Schenker, a registered dietician, told The Telegraph: “Seeing the calorie counts could be beneficial for some customers who otherwise might be tempted to over-order.
“However, if people are just comparing calories and not considering the ingredients, they could end up choosing something less nutritious.”
For example, a salad containing lots of healthy fats, such as avocado and nuts, would be highly calorific. But contains more minerals and vitamins than a lower calorie beige meal.
It’s worth considering both calories and the healthiness of the individual ingredients when ordering, Sarah suggests.
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She shared the worst offender and healthiest option at each restaurant chain.
Avoid: Double quarter pounder with cheese
Sarah recoiled at the huge amount of saturated fat (19g – XXX) in the McDonald's double quarter pounder.
And the salt – 3.2g – is almost half the recommended daily amount, and that’s before fries and potentially sides.
A Filet-O-Fish, on the other hand, is more than half the calories (319 versus 739), and only a tiny 2.3g of saturated fat.
Avoid: Zinger stacker burger
Order: Chicken fillet salad
It seems blatantly obvious that a salad is going to be healthier than a burger.
But it’s not just about reducing calories (from 780 in the burger to 370 in the salad).
Sarah said the fibre content will be much higher – and fibre is essential for the bowels, helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of disease.
After all, it’s the chicken you got to KFC for.
Avoid: Fino pitta
Order: Grilled chicken pitta
Everyone has their usual Nando’s order, so if Fino pitta is yours, you’ll be disappointed.
Sarah said: “An alarmingly high calorie count  for what some might consider a healthy option, and look at all that saturated fat [15.2g], sugar [14.5g] and salt [3.g].
“There’s a big dose of protein from the chicken but overall this is a red card.”
Instead a “great choice” is the grilled chicken pitta, which has saturated fat [3.1g], sugar [7g] and salt [1.7g] all within a reasonable range, all for less than 500 calories.
Avoid: Bacon cheeseburger
Order: Little hamburger
Sarah said the Five Guys burger contains a “gut-busting” 904 calories – and let’s face it, you’re going to order fries and potentially a drink on top of that.
“Also note, their Five Guys Style Fries are the among the most calorific out there, at 1073 calories for a regular fries and a chocolate milkshake clocks up another 842 calories,” Sarah said.
It may sound lacklustre, but the little hamburger still provides 464 calories, and you can customise it by adding veg like mushrooms, tomato and onions.
Avoid: Meatfielder pizza, medium
Order: Vegi supreme pizza with reduced fat mozzarella (personal size)
Even at a medium size, a Domino’s pizza is likely going to set you back a couple thousands calories, such as the Meatfielder pizza.
Sarah noted that as well as having “heaps of saturated fat [42.4g], sugar [39.7g] and salt [9.3g]”, the meat is processed.
She said if you must get pizza, go for veggie which has fibre, vitamins and minerals (and reduced fat cheese).
How much should you eat per day?
The NHS says as a general guide, men should eat around 2,500 calories per day, and women 2,000.
But how much you will need will depend on your size.
Sugar, fat and salt are also important. These are labelled on foods you buy in the shops by colour coding – green is best, while red is worst.
Adults are adviced to limit their sugar, fat and salt to:
- Sugar: 30g of free/added sugars (those that aren't natural)
- Saturated fat: 30g for men, and 20g for women
- Salt: 6g (around one teaspoon)
Avoid: Chicken tikka masala
Order: King prawn saag
Each Indian takeaway or restaurant is going to make their curries differently.
But some, including tikka masala or korma, are more heavy on the cream and ghee, while containing little to no vegetables.
There is also the addition of deep-fried sides, such as bhajis, pakoras and samosas.
King prawn saag is a good option because it contains a low calorie protein, and “plenty of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron”, Sarah said.
“Have with a wholewheat chapati which is lower in fat and higher in fibre than naan or paratha”, she added.
Avoid: Sweet and sour pork
Order: King prawn veggie fried rice
Sarah said in dishes like sweet and sour pork, sugar is the culprit – and it’s exceptionally high at 22g.
Chinese takeaway lacks vegetables unless you seek it out, and is often a mix of stodgy carbohydrates and processed meats.
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Again, Sarah recommended prawns for a takeaway, which is high in protein but lower in calories. The veggie fried rice ensures there are some vitamins in there.
“You can always ask for some extra vegetables to be included to bump up the nutrient content,” she said.
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