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On a diet? Don't get a salad; get a burger!
June 1, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Think those salads at McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Taco Bell are a good idea if you want something lighter? Turns out you're actually better off getting a double cheeseburger instead. For more info on nutritional facts about fast food, CalorieKing has a good database.
posted by cerebus19 (67 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before anyone brings it up: Yes, I'm aware that they only tested certain salads, and some of the fast food salads may not have the same problem.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:40 AM on June 1, 2007


Turns out you're actually better off getting the fuck out of the fast food joint and running to the local produce section.

Unless, you know. You're Grimace.
posted by four panels at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2007


Misleading, because they inexplicably don't take into account the weight of each. In the first example, the salad contains 1.23 calories/gram, while the burger contains 2.53 calories/gram - more than twice as much. Similar results for the other three.

Their reason for not comparing portions of equal weight - "We will not compare a salad to a huge sandwich like a Whopper or a Big Mac, because that's just silly." - is just silly.
posted by googly at 11:48 AM on June 1, 2007


AARGHAARGHAARGHIDONTCAREIKNOWCHEESEBURGERSAREBADFORMEBUTILIKETHEWAYTHEYTASTE SOSTOPTRYINGTOMAKEMEFEELGUILTYABOUTLIKINGTOEATTHINGSTHATTASTEGOODGODDAMNIT
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2007 [10 favorites]


I'm disappointed in the consumerist. For one thing, the relative lardiness of fast salads is well documented anyway. But, leaving this aside, the salads always weigh vastly more. For instance, on the first one, they compare a 447g salad and a 116g burger. Meaningless.
posted by rhymer at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2007


Well duh. There's a reason Hamburglar was always so svelte. Besides, burgers are sexy.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:52 AM on June 1, 2007


What if we told you that a Wendy's Garden Sensations Mandarin Chicken Salad had more calories, more fat, more carbs and more sugar than a Double Stack? Would that surprise you? It shouldn't. The nutritional information is right there on the Internet.

Eh? Why shouldn't I be surprised? What reason would I have to look up that informatoin on the Internet?
posted by the other side at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2007


Yeah, those are pretty small burgers. Other then the taco bell fiesta salad, all of those salads are pretty reasonable calorie wise, about 500 Calories each. About half what you'd get in a full sized "normal" burger. If you add in fries

*shrug*

Eh? Why shouldn't I be surprised? What reason would I have to look up that informatoin on the Internet?

Well if you're actually dieting, it helps if you know how many calories are in things.
posted by delmoi at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2007


• We will include the dressing in our total, because eating salad without dressing is nasty.

There is great truth in this statement. Everything else about this story can be completely wrong, but they got this bit correct.
posted by quin at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2007


Ok, for the nine billionth time JUST DON'T ORDER THE SALAD DRESSING.

McDonald's Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad, no dressing = 12g carbs, 260 calories

The Ranch dressing alone: 9g carbs, 170 calories
posted by Pastabagel at 11:59 AM on June 1, 2007


Surprise! That dressing has fat in it! I'm so shocked!
Seriously, I don't eat salad to lose weight, I eat salad to get fresh vegetables. Anybody who thinks that salads are the magic bullet (or that a magic weight-loss bullet exists) simply isn't paying attention.
posted by lekvar at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually it's quite simple to deal with this insurmountable salad challenge, just use only 1/3 or 1/2 of the packet of dressing they give you. The food that's left after you trim down the dressing and leave off the croutons or crunchy things is much lower in fat and is also composed of healthy things like vegetables, which is why dieters order salads.
posted by crackingdes at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2007


This will wendell.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2007


The question of whether you are "better off" involves much more that a simple calorie count between arbitrary items. The comparison of the McDonalds salad is also misleading in that they are including the caloric content of the large packet of dressing that comes with the salad. Personally, I use only a tiny fraction, and I suspect even those who like to drench their salad would use about half. You also have a choice between the fried chicken and grilled.

I was never been a fan of McDonalds, and haven't had one of their burgers since I was a kid. But these salads are really palatable, and, despite the misleading article, a healthy alternative to fast food despair.
posted by Manjusri at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2007


Calories don't tell the whole story. At least with the salad, you're getting more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. rather than the empty calories of processed bread and cheese and meat.
posted by SBMike at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2007


The very first comment on the article makes a great point. They do not seem to take into account that very few people will order ONLY a sandwich. Most add fries and a soda, which really ups the calories. I would wager, however, that most people who order the salad ONLY order the salad.
posted by LeeJay at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2007


Well if you're actually dieting, it helps if you know how many calories are in things.

Well sure, if you're dieting and if you're eating at Wendy's and McDonalds...
posted by the other side at 12:03 PM on June 1, 2007


If you value your health, you won't eat any fast food at all. Ever.

The only thing on a franchise menu that's healthy is bottled water, and even that's suspect.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:04 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


We will include the dressing in our total, because eating salad without dressing is nasty

well duh, considering that most salads contain iceberg lettuce pale tomatoes and other vegetable waste. Fast-food salads are as nasty as fast-food hamburgers. Not many people eat the burger without the condiments and buns either. It's all a matter of making it taste like the secondary products.
posted by edgeways at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2007


I thought the reason Hamburglar was so svelte was because he never got to eat any McDonalds food.
posted by MtDewd at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't go to fast food joints to for salads, I go for the reconstituted chicken slurry.
posted by The Straightener at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hurf Durf Salad Eater?
posted by drezdn at 12:17 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is stupid.

That said, I'm drinking a big frosty glass of empty calories right now.
posted by noble_rot at 12:19 PM on June 1, 2007


I swear I thought this was an Onion article - but it's from CNN:

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants -- the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's -- told CNN Money that he plans to keep his 1,000-calorie plus burgers on the market.

He said, "My opinion is that the media is the main supporter of healthy eating. We're certainly not hearing it from our customers. And [surveys] show that while consumers say they want to eat healthier, what they actually want is a big juicy burger,"
posted by mildred-pitt at 12:22 PM on June 1, 2007


In the immortal words of Luther Ingram: If empty is wrong, I don't wanna be full.
posted by phaedon at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2007


damnit, drezdn beat me to it.

The trouble is eating all that goddamn butter on your salad.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2007


OT: Arrgh: screenshots of word document tables, complete with the red-underlined-spelling-mistakes saved as JPGs to give that nice fuzzy 'I need to clean my glasses' effect... and HTML tables have only been around for, what, 10 years?
posted by nielm at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Calories don't tell the whole story. At least with the salad, you're getting more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. rather than the empty calories of processed bread and cheese and meat.

I'm a little skeptical that the greens in the salad are of the particularly nutrient-rich category. But if they are, bonus. Mostly, I find I'm starting to choose them because I end up feeling more satisfied when I'm done -- I feel about as full as if I'd eaten not only the sandwich, but also the fries and the drink, except without the grease coma, and it takes me longer to get hungry again.

So, yeah. The salads generally work as a 500-600 calorie meal. Are there really people who shouldn't be eating 1500-1800 calories per day?
posted by weston at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2007


Those wacky dieters! lol! They think their salads are so healthy but look at all the calories.

If they were really smart, like the consumerist peoples who wrote the article, they'd know that the surest way to lose weight is to simply reduce the size of your meals to absurdly small amounts. It's like an anorexia diet!

Did you know that a 460g salad has more calories than a 160g fast food burger plus 300g of toothpaste? Why eat that rabbit food?
posted by cotterpin at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyone who has dieted and counted calories knows that a meatless, cheeseless salad undressed or with oil and vinegar is a low cal diet item, but with other dressings, meat, or cheese is not.

By the way, I highly recommend The Hacker's Diet.

http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/
posted by zippy at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2007


Anyone who is serious about losing weight should look into my new diet fad book: Sticks, Rocks and Water, or, Nutients are Making you Fat, Fatty!

*goes back to counting calories, eating salad, and gazing hatefully at bulging belly*
posted by lekvar at 12:38 PM on June 1, 2007


Wow, fast food places serve unhealthy food, stop the fucking presses, thank you good citizen.

(we know it's not good for us. we don't care. go preach elsewhere)
posted by jonmc at 12:38 PM on June 1, 2007


Pastabagel: "Ok, for the nine billionth time JUST DON'T ORDER THE SALAD DRESSING.
McDonald's Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad, no dressing = 12g carbs, 260 calories
The Ranch dressing alone: 9g carbs, 170 calories
"

Wait, wait. Pastabagel is counting carbs?
posted by Plutor at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


The very first comment on the article makes a great point.

MOST of the comments on the original article make good points. I'm a little surprised someone would read them and then post the article elsewhere.
posted by statolith at 12:45 PM on June 1, 2007


He said, "My opinion is that the media is the main supporter of healthy eating. We're certainly not hearing it from our customers. And [surveys] show that while consumers say they want to eat healthier, what they actually want is a big juicy burger,"

More of your "juicy burgers." Less of your disgusting food-porn TV ads.
posted by blucevalo at 12:51 PM on June 1, 2007


I'm pretty sure when the Atkins revolution comes, Pastabagel will be first against the wall.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2007


You know what would be nice though, if they made the ubiquitous chicken optional. Like, in a packet of some type, like the dressings and croutons or crunchies of whatever sort usually are. Apacket that could be withheld and kept in the fridge for the next order. I would be all over those salads if they didn't require purchase of meat.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:53 PM on June 1, 2007


What about Fritos Scoops, jalapeno-cheddar cheese dip, and Oberto Cocktail Pep?

'cause that's what I had for breakfast.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:08 PM on June 1, 2007


why people gotta hate on salads, is nothing safe?
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:22 PM on June 1, 2007


What about Fritos Scoops, jalapeno-cheddar cheese dip, and Oberto Cocktail Pep?

Goddamn that sounds delicious.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2007


The brilliance of salad is that the junky tasteless part usually has roughly zero calories. So even if you add a bunch of junk, it still evens out to healthy. (Just don't add fried chicken.)
posted by smackfu at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2007


yeah crash that is what the Surgeon General calls a "God bless America kind of breakfast"
posted by nola at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2007


God, I hate articles that make the assumption that the general public are complete dolts and can't do an actual value comparision. If anyone has held the 1 Dollar double cheeseburger in hand, they know that there is no way one of those would be filling. Stupid, stupid article.


I know there are a lot of fast food haters out there, but I really love the McDonald's Asian Chicken Salad. Its much cheaper than me chopping up a lot of stuff at home. Really mandarin oranges! Edamame! Sugar Snap Peas! Lots of Lots of grilled chicken! all for 400 odd calories, its pretty awesome when my silly code monkey bf wants me to pick up dinner at 2 in the morning.
posted by stormygrey at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2007


If McDonald's is so calorie-dense, why am I always still hungry after eating a huge pile of it?

That's a rhetorical question, sorry. I haven't eaten any of that swill for a long while now. When I was living in the ghetto of Northwest downtown Phoenix it was the only thing open for miles. I'm intense and high energy - a fidgeter, a cyclist, a spaz, a skateboarder. I'm rather high-strung, too. My body needs nutrients and lots of them.

I developed a bad habit of getting breakfast there after all-night drinking debacles. Once I ordered (literally) nearly twenty dollars worth of breakfast stuff. It was nearly "give me one of everything on the breakfast menu" - except I actually got two OJs and two "yogurt" parfaits thingies. This was a small mountain of "food". A deluxe breakfast, several sandwiches, another side of pancakes, some hashbrowns, a few more sandwiches, etc.

I ate all of it. Every last bite. And I was still hungry. My gut was full to bursting but I was still fucking hungry for food, not let's-pretend-food.

My body basically said to me "Uh, what? What the fuck is this shit? This isn't actually food, you jackass! What. The. Fuck!? No, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking idiot? God, I hate you. Such an asshole. Up all night, drinking and smoking. Living on coffee. And now this... this mountain of plasticizers and preservatives, this mass of grease and fat and zero nutrients. You know what? Fuck you. Let's see how you like this..."

...and my body proceeded to rebel. It was a gastrointestinal mutiny. It's like my body just refused to even digest it or even bother to extract any nutrients at all from it.

No more than an hour after eating I was in the bathroom wondering if it was indeed possible to shit so hard that you'd turn yourself inside out. It came out looking just about like it did when it went in - rather beige and gloppy.

Really, I should know better. But I was hungry. And drunk. I needed something resembling food. But I now know for sure it's better to be hungry and wait for real food than to try to trick my gut with fake food.

Fuck fast food and their "salads". You really would be better off going to a grocery store and gnawing on a head of cabbage or a raw potato or something.

Still not turned off by McDonald's? Here's a fun fact: About 15 years ago when I was a homeless street kid, we used to dumpster-dive for McDonald's sandwiches, back when they still used to make 'em up in batches and let them sit under a heat lamp. They'd then dump these out in the trash after a period of time.

I learned that most of those sandwiches are shelf stable, unrefrigerated in a cardboard box in the open air and sun for up to a week if not more. The only thing that made them inedible was the fact that they'd dry out into hockey pucks that were impossible to chew. Gross.

posted by loquacious at 1:48 PM on June 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


So you're saying... I can has cheezburger?
posted by ORthey at 1:49 PM on June 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


I recommend my All Egg Diet. All eggs, all the time. 2 eggs for breakfast, 3 for lunch, 4 eggs with a side of slaw for dinner and wash it down with a thirst-quenching iced lemonegg.

It helps maintain my shiny coat.


loquacious observed Gross.

I eat McDonald's at least once a year, just to remind myself why I don't eat at McDonald's.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:11 PM on June 1, 2007


I have the Jack in the Box salads now and then, and they're pretty good. The most alarming thing I saw in the specs for them is the sodium levels in the dressing, but I'm not surprised.
posted by 2sheets at 2:23 PM on June 1, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur says: You know what would be nice though, if they made the ubiquitous chicken optional. Like, in a packet of some type, like the dressings and croutons or crunchies of whatever sort usually are. Apacket that could be withheld and kept in the fridge for the next order. I would be all over those salads if they didn't require purchase of meat.

Admittedly I haven't worked at McDonald's in a few years, but when I did work there the chicken was technically optional, just not advertised. If you ever go back, go ahead and ask if you can get it without the chicken and if it's cheaper without. Hopefully they'll say yes.
posted by Green With You at 2:24 PM on June 1, 2007


lekvar: Anybody who thinks that salads are the magic bullet (or that a magic weight-loss bullet exists) simply isn't paying attention.

Actually, there is a magic weight-loss bullet. It's called Zonisamide. I don't recommend it if fat is your only problem, though. If you want to know more, well, paging ikkyu2. . .
posted by The Bellman at 2:49 PM on June 1, 2007


Why don't we just accept the truth? Eating is bad for you. It leads to all kinds of health issues. Not eating is bad for you. It leads to all kinds of health issues. So don't do either.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:56 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bellman, that's not magic, that's 1,2-benzisoxazole-3-methanesulfonamide. No eye of newt, no bat's tongue, and, you'll notice, no bullet. That's SCIENCE!, not magic. I mean, jeeze, did you even read that Wikipedia article?
posted by lekvar at 2:59 PM on June 1, 2007


*reads ZachsMind's comment*
*attempts to photosynthesize*
*starts to cramp up*
posted by jonmc at 3:08 PM on June 1, 2007


lekvar: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke.

(Indistinguishable, I might add, even to the people who prescribe the stuff.)
posted by The Bellman at 3:16 PM on June 1, 2007


One of my favorite "Real Men of Genius" ads was the Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor one. No, I don't have a link to it. But it was good. And it made the point that Giant Taco Salads are probably not the best thing in the world to eat, that little weasel word "salad" notwithstanding.
posted by yhbc at 3:28 PM on June 1, 2007




*reads JonMC's comment*
*attempts to cramp up*
*starts to photosynthesize*
posted by ZachsMind at 3:43 PM on June 1, 2007


Dunno. I don't eat salads for any other health reason than needing a lot of fiber, due to Franz, my diverticula. He likes him some veggies, and doesn't let me forget it.

Oh.

*reads someone's comment*
*attempts to cramp during photosynthesis*
*gets bored and wanders off*
posted by Samizdata at 4:32 PM on June 1, 2007


lquacious, thank you for saying basically what I was going to about giving in to expedience for one crummy, unsatisfying and overpriced Double Whopper yesterday. My bod bitchslapped me too, albeit more modestly.

When I absolutely can't stand it, I'll find a grocery store and get some hummus, some pita bread, some cheese and some olives and maybe carrots to snack on afterward. Fast-food fare kinda scares me and my GI tract anymore.
posted by pax digita at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2007


There is great truth in this statement. Everything else about this story can be completely wrong, but they got this bit correct.

Actually, that's the one thing I thought was bullshit. Salads are great, but salad dressings are in my opinion uniformly disgusting. It's a waste of delicious crisp vegetables to pour gobs of fat-laden salt and sugar over them.

The very idea of salad dressing takes my appetite away.
posted by watsondog at 6:07 PM on June 1, 2007


We will include the dressing in our total, because eating salad without dressing is nasty.

They've never had any *good* produce, have they? Or what watsondog said. Yeah, the kind of vegetables you'd get at a fast-food joint pretty much needs to be smothered in fat, salt and sugar if you're going to choke it down: bitter cheap lettuce bred to travel and store well rather than taste edible, dessicated chunks of carrot with a whitish-looking surface, yech. But a real salad is another matter.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:07 PM on June 1, 2007


watsondog writes "Salads are great, but salad dressings are in my opinion uniformly disgusting. It's a waste of delicious crisp vegetables to pour gobs of fat-laden salt and sugar over them."

Vinegar. And whatever else, maybe just oil. But vinegar.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:27 PM on June 1, 2007


See, this is why I just go to Subway. I can order a sammich with cucumbers, green peppers, carrots, spinach, banana peppers, tomatoes, spicy mustard, and on one memorable occasion, a generous helping of protein-rich ants.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:16 PM on June 1, 2007


I can has salad?

Do Not Want.
posted by girandole at 9:03 PM on June 1, 2007


I was in McDonald's the other day (haven't been in years, but I had a very limited time to get ANY food, and I was hungry) and watched a very obese woman get the salad there, with huge chunks of bacon and a massive packet of Newman's Own Ranch Dressing. I couldn't help but wonder if she did it because she thought it might help.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:16 PM on June 1, 2007


quin - Salad without dressing is perfectly good. I never use dressing, as I loathe vinegar, and I don't like drowning out the flavor of the ingredients I put in. It's the same thing when it comes to sandwiches - I enjoy them condiment free.

As for the salads, the comparisons here are faulty. But there's simple logic that you need to know what kind of stuff is healthy or not. Salad greens are healthy. A bit of cheese can be healthy and add protein. Egg is good. Grilled chicken isn't bad. Dressing is a load of calories, as are anything fried, including bacon and croutons.

My usual salad is lettuce, cucumber, carrots, feta cheese, and one hardboiled egg. Roughly 150-175 calories.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:01 PM on June 1, 2007


We will include the dressing in our total, because eating salad without dressing is nasty.

That seems fair enough, but I'd also like to point out that to my tastes, using *all* of the typically supplied amount of salad dressing is also pretty nasty.
posted by sfenders at 7:58 AM on June 2, 2007


I couldn't help but wonder if she did it because she thought it might help.

It's still way better than a Big Mac or two and a large fries.
posted by smackfu at 10:01 AM on June 2, 2007


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