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Your home. It truly is the safest place for you to be when your appetite comes calling. That’s because your kitchen is likely stocked with all the essentials for a lean, muscular physique. Eggs, chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, oatmeal – the list goes on. But what are you supposed to do when you’re out?
While your eyes may instantly be drawn to the buffalo wings, potato wedges and apple pie on the menu you’re looking at, there are almost always selections you can make that will be better for your physique. You just need to know what to look for. Opt for these selections at popular dining establishments and you can be sure that you’re not sabotaging your gains.
Our second-favorite motto here at Weider Publications (after “Go big or go home”) is “Bodybuilding fare can be found anywhere.” Yes, at McDonald’s and yes, even at a greasy spoon like Denny’s. We don’t want to hear any excuses about how you slipped off your low-fat diet with a steak and a side of onion rings because you couldn’t find anything else on the menu. Same for you low-carbers. French fries and barbecue chicken never cut it. To make ordering easy, look at what we found, hidden in plain sight on the Denny’s menu.
If you’re eating a low-fat diet, you’re probably taking in somewhere south of 10 grams per meal. As long as you can navigate past the nachos and fried chicken strips peppering the appetizer menu, you’ll be home free. But fat is lurking in other places, like the T-bone steak, which boasts a jaw-dropping 65 grams of fat. Even the tilapia, normally a very lean fish, morphs into a 47-gram fat-for-all when it’s given the Lemon Pepper treatment. Stick with the chicken meal and choose as your sides a plain baked potato and a vegetable, like green beans, and you’ll stick to your diet. Nix the nachos and order cottage cheese as an appetizer. Besides increasing your protein intake, it will slow down the digestion of the baked potato’s carbs, keeping your insulin levels under control.
Item Calories/Protein (g)/Carbs (g)/Fat (g) Cottage cheese 72/9/2/3 Grilled chicken dinner 37/27/1/2 Baked potato (plain) 220/5/51/0 Green beans 40/2/8/1 TOTAL: 469 calories, 43 g protein, 62 g carbs, 6 g fat
Low-Carb Tips: You may initially be under the impression that it would be easier to eat low-carb at Denny’s than low-fat, but allow us to remind you that the breading on all that fried food actually consists of carbs. So, ignoring the fries and the mozzarella sticks, order the steak and shrimp dinner. Just be sure that you’re getting the grilled shrimp, not the fried variety.
Not only do the majority of sit-down family food chains not publicize their nutritional information, but they entice with appetizers that have more fat and carbs than even a non-M&F reader could possibly ingest in a day. Chili’s is one of the few chain restaurants that’s brave enough to post its nutritional information, but that doesn’t mean that those on a get-lean diet will have an easy time finding options for dinner. Like the fast food restaurants, Chili’s has developed a “healthier” menu, called the Guiltless Grill, and the macros for these dishes are actually listed right on the menu. But, while you might be tempted to order the Guiltless Grill chicken platter, keep in mind that the macros include the side dishes – higher-carb options like black beans and rice. Subtract those out, and you’re looking at a paltry 28 grams of protein from the chicken breast. Instead, the true find is the Classic Chicken Fajitas. It’s meant to serve two, but they’ve never met the likes of us. Eaten without tortillas, sour cream or cheese, the fajitas sizzle up 40 grams of protein. Add a dinner salad and a Diet Coke, and you should be satisfied – and well within your numbers.
Item Calories/Protein (g)/Carbs (g)/Fat (g) Dinner Salad 140/6/12/7 g Classic Chicken Fajitas 330/40/23/11 1 Diet Coke 0/0/0/0 TOTAL: 470 calories, 46 g protein, 35 g carbs, 18 g fat
The good news is that KFC is no longer using trans-fats in the oil they use to fry their chicken. The bad news? The place is still a bastion of high-fat, high-carb cooking. But we’re sticking to our belief that a dedicated bodybuilder can find suitable food in any establishment. And look! It’s true. Here’s how to go low-carb or low-fat at KFC.
Think it should be easy to go low-carb in a place that dunks just about everything it can in a vat of boiling fat? Think again. Fried chicken isn’t just dripping with fat, it’s also rolling in carbs. The clue? It’s breaded. However, if you remove the breading and skin from a chicken breast, you’re left with a tender, juicy, low-carb and even low-fat protein source. That’s right the breading absorbs the oil, keeping the chicken meat juicy, tender and low-fat. Add some veggies and a salad, easy on the dressing, and your diet is saved.
Item Calories/Protein (g)/Carbs (g)/Fat (g)
Skinless chicken breast 140/29/1/2 Green beans 50/2/7/1.5 House side salad 15/1/2/0 1/2 packet ranch dressing 100/0.5/1.5/ TOTAL: 305 calories, 32.5 g protein, 11.5 g carbs, 13.5 g fat
Low-fat diets have room for more carbs, so go ahead, eat the bun on the Tender Roast Sandwich. Just make sure they don’t get the fatty “tangy pepper mayo sauce” anywhere near your roasted chicken. Indulge in some sweet baked beans for extra protein and slow-burning carbs and top it off with some raw veggies, thanks to the House Side Salad and some fat-free Ranch dressing.
Item Calories/Protein (g)/Carbs (g)/Fat (g)
Tender Roast Sandwich (no sauce) 300/37/28/4.5 Baked Beans 220/1/45/0 House Side Salad 15/1/2/0 Ranch Fat-Free Dressing 35/1/8/0 TOTAL: 570 calories, 40 g protein, 83 g carbs, 4.5 g fat
You’d think it would be easy to get a low-fat meal at a pizza place. After all, tomato sauce is low-fat, pizza dough is low-fat, and cheese…yeah, there’s the rub. So, cheeseless pizza? That’s one option, but in our opinion, there’s no point in eating a pizza if it’s not topped with cheese – and all those fatty meats that come on the meat-lover’s special.
Which is why our hearts skipped a beat (and not in a cardiac-arrest kind of way) when we discovered this little tidbit. Now, we’re not miracle workers. We can’t magically turn bacon and sausage and pepperoni into low-fat foods. But when we’re dying for some pizza, we can eat a single slice of a 12″ thin crust ham and pineapple pizza at Pizza Hut. And we can enjoy the fact that that delectable slice contains less fat (6 grams) than a slice of either the plain cheese (8 grams) or the veggie lover’s (7 grams). Don’t ask us to explain it; we don’t even want to think too much about it in case it suddenly goes away. (Okay, fine, we do have one theory, and it’s that adding toppings means less cheese and therefore less fat. But we have no clue what kind of magic ham they’re using.)
As always, the caveat is that pizza is never going to be a permanent part of your low-fat diet. However, if you’re desperate for a slice… or two, now there’s a better option than the previous best bet: splurging on plain cheese.
Item Calories/Protein (g)/Carbs (g)/Fat (g) 1 slice of a 12" Thin 'N Crispy 180/9/23/6 Quartered Ham and Pineapple Pizza 1 large Diet Coke 0/0/0/0 TOTAL: 180 calories, 9 g protein, 23 g carbs, 6 g fat