Salads – Weight Loss Secret, or Weight Loss Folly?

I was doing some research today on salads.  Salads are a staple in any diet, because you can eat a really big salad, so you think you have eaten a lot, but a salad doesn’t contain a lot of calories.  Or so the theory goes.

Of course it’s not as simple as that; it’s not the salad that will get you into trouble, it’s the salad dressing.

To do my research I went to the Wendy’s website where they list all of their nutritional information.  A Chicken BLT Salad Wendys Chicken BLT Saladhas 340 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 13 grams of carbohydrates (or 9 grams of net carbs for those of you following the Atkins Diet, which is calculated by subtracting the fibre).  The fat is somewhat high for a salad, but overall, not that bad.

However, when you add a packet of honey mustard dressing, the numbers shoot up, because just the dressing as 280 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 11 grams of carbs!  In other words, just the dressing has 82% of the calories, and 150% of the fat of the entire salad!

Even worse, the salad has 50% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and 25% of the daily allowance of calcium, so it has good nutritional value.  The dressing has virtually no nutritional value.

So what’s the solution?  The first solution would be to eat the salad without the dressing; that probably wouldn’t taste very good.  The second solution would be to only use half the package of dressing; the salad’s taste is enhanced, but you only get 140 calories.

Another solution is to make your own salad dressing.  A mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar has far fewer calories.

The final solution is to ask for the low calorie dressings.  Wendy’s offers Fat Free French Style Dressing, which has only 80 calories, and virtually no fat.  Since that probably won’t go very well with the Chicken BLT Salad, a better choice would be there Low Fat Honey Mustard Dressing, with 110 calories and only 3 grams of fat.

A Chicken BLT Salad with Low Fat Honey Mustard Dressing totals 450 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 30 net carbs (this dressing is high in carbs).  If you want to keep the carbs and the calories down, the Italian Vinaigrette dressing has 140 calories, and 12 grams of fat, but only 9 grams of carbs.

The point is this: eating salad all day won’t help you lose weight if you are consuming excessive calories through the dressing, so watch that dressing!

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