Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla

Here's yet another one of my favorites from Taco Bell. I'm always down for some decent mexican food, and Taco Bell's quesadillas are a lot better than you'd expect from a fast food chain. It's definitely on the spicier side, which may not be for everyone, but it's just fine with me!

The stats come out to 520cals/27g fat, and the beef version comes out to 510cals/28g fat. Personally, I prefer the chicken version for some reason. Normally, it's served with a crunchy taco on the side, but I skip that to keep the cal count low. The only two downsides to it I can think of are the difficulty of eating one inside a car and also the spice doesn't always seem to play nice with my workouts later in the day. One time I stopped by a Taco Bell on my way to traffic court in Avenal, and the quesadilla slid right out of the packet the first time I hit the brakes...DOH!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arby's Bacon Cheddar Roastburger

Well it's been a while, but it's time for an update! I've been to Arby's once before, when I was in the mood to try something new. Long story short, their burgers are WAY less fatty than anything I've seen before. Most other chains have low-calorie burgers, but those either taste terrible or they have paper-thin meat patties or both. In Arby's burgers, the meat patty gets swapped for a stack of roasted sliced beef, giving them a nice distinct taste along with pretty nice nutrition numbers along with that. This particular burger's numbers come out to 430 calories and the surprisingly low 18grams fat, which puts its ratio of calories from fat at only 37% rather than the usual 50%+ most burgers have.

All in all, it's a pretty nice place, as long as you can pass up on the curly fries and are okay with it being slightly pricey. In this case the sandwich is about $3.60-something, and ordering it along with a small diet coke cost almost exactly $6.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In-N-Out Burger (2meat, 1cheese, ketchup instead of spread)

In-N-Out Double-Double with an extra meat used to be one of my favorites during a long day. Thankfully, only a couple of minor changes are needed to avoid giving up In-N-Out.

In-N-Out is one of the few chains whose nutrition charts show the calorie/fat contribution of ingredients such as spread or mayonnaise.

Looking at http://www.in-n-out.com/nutritional_info.asp, it's pretty clear that skipping the spread in favor of mustard+ketchup shaves off 80cal/9g worth of energy. If you can't give up the spread, going with the regular Cheeseburger with onion and no fries gives us a tidy 480cals/27g sandwich.

If you're a meat-eater like me, one thin meat patty just doesn't cut it. Unfortunately, a regular Double-Double comes in at a weighty 670cals/41g...bummer. Looking down the chart, holding the spread gets us down to 590cals/32g, which only a 2g above the cutoff.

Normally, I'd look past that, but I always felt that In-N-Out burgers have WAY too much cheese for the amount of meat - hence the extra meat I would usually order. In this case, though, going with two meats and one cheese gives a much better balance and takes its fat content well under the 30g limit. Since I never really cared too much for the crappy sour american 'mustard,' I asked to skip that, as well. BBQ sauce or Russian mustard would've been awesome, but no such luck there =(

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

McDonalds Big Mac - the healthy way!

Bashing McDonalds for their fatty foods is all the rage all the time. The movie SuperSize Me that came out a few years ago didn't help things any. Of course, it's a lot easier to blame McD's for selling you a 1500cal meal than it is to take responsibility for your own diet. That being said, I was honestly surprised to see how many items on McD's menu would fit within the 30g fat budget assuming you skip the fries and go for diet soda. That being said, it's time to add rule #2:

Total cals should not add up to more than 600-700cals/meal.

For starters, fries are huge limit busters - if slightly less than Jack in the Box:

Small - 230cal/11g
Medium - 380/19g
Large - 500/25g

Only the tiniest burgers and salads would fit under the fat limit even with the small fries. So, no fries for us this time.

While Big Mac is usually cited used as the stereotypical "fat foods are bad for you" example, the nutrition data shows surprisingly good totals of 540cals/29g fat. Holding the fries and going diet on the soda gives us a nice burger minus an extra pound of weight by the end of the week.

Just for laughs, here's an example of a real diet buster:

Angus Bacon & Cheese - 790cals/39g
Large Fries - 500cals/25g
Large Coca-Cola - 310cals/0g
Total - 1600cals/64g fat

Even going medium on the fries and soda will only subtract 220 calories, but this is like taking a bucket of water out of an ocean in this case.

Crunching the numbers for a typical #1 Big Mac meal (burger + medium fries and reg soda), we got the following:

Big Mac - 540cals/29g
Medium Fries - 280cals/19g
Medium Coca-Cola - 210cals/0g

This adds up to a grand total of 1030cals/48g, with the glaringly obvious fact that the fries and the soda are only 50 calories short of another Big Mac burger.

To recap - hold the fries or get a small sandwich, go diet on the soda, and you'll shave off a good 400cals off your trip to McD's.

This concludes today's lesson!

Taco Bell Grilled Stuft Burrito - Chicken

Here's one of the more unusual items I found out there. Looking at the official nutrition chart, our stats come out as follows:

650 calories and 23 grams fat. Obviously, I skipped the nachos that go with it and also got a diet coke from a vending machine at work for .25c.

The other two choices offered are beef and steak, which come out at 690cal/30g and 630/24g respectively. All three of these fit within the 30g limit, but the chicken is my favorite.

I guess the most unusual feature of the chicken burrito is that its calories from fat only add up to 210cals. That is roughly 32% of the total calorie count, and it is actually very close to the 'healthy' proportion of the average calories from fat recommended out there. For the sake of comparison, most main menu items in fast food places will have at least 45-50% of their cals coming from fat.

Taco bell also offers Burrito Supreme with <15g grams fat and even lower ratio of cals from fat, but the few times I tried them, they tasted way too bland for my liking.


Burrito Supreme – Beef 410cals/15g
Burrito Supreme – Chicken 390cals/12g
Burrito Supreme – Steak 380cals/12g

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jack in the Box: Deluxe Hamburger with Cheese

I am an engineer not a scientist. That means I prefer practical knowledge over theory.

Here's my first and only rule of thumb for a "decently healthy meal" : No more than 30g of total fat per meal, with an occasional 5g extension being granted for certain entries.

I realize this is a grotesque oversimplification of dietary science...or that real low-fat diets require less fat than that PER DAY. Whatever, this is not the point of this exercise.

First item for today's discussion is Seasoned Curly Fries from Jack in the Box. Suffice to say, I LOVE THOSE!!!

Here are the calorie counts and grams of fat for small/med/large sizes respectively from the official nutrition guide:

Calories: 280/420/570
Fat: 15/24/32(!)

There ya have it, folks. The large portion will bust the limit by itself. The medium doesn't leave room for anything else except a spoonful of salad, either. The small size will only fit the limit with Hamburger or Hamburger with cheese (12 and 15grams respectively). Next time I go to Jack, I'll try that combo.

Today, I drove down to a local Jack in the Box and bought the Hamburger Deluxe with Cheese sandwich (430cals/25grams fat/$1.52) for the first time. It took me a while to find it because it is on the value menu rather than the main menu. For drink, I just made some coffee while I ate it in my office at work. All in all, the burger is bigger than the price would suggest and doesn't taste any worse than the 60+ grams fat offerings on the main menu, either.

Let the experiment begin!!!

Well, I finally decided that my gut isn't getting any smaller, and that it's time to take a long hard look at my current diet.

Being 5'10" and 165lbs, I am not overweight at all...yet. I just know that losing 50lbs is an order of magnitude more difficult than nipping the problem in the bud 45lbs before you need to lose 50. Lack of physical activity clearly isn't the problem since I do kickboxing around 3 times a week for one hour at a time, among other things.

My personal position about weight loss is that being dead-set on losing weight is the quickest recipe to failure. Doing things just to lose weight is not fun, and it's pretty damn hard to get any motivation after a while. That means getting fit and staying fit requires finding activities that are both physically demanding and FUN, as well as settling on a diet that is enjoyable without being too fattening. I should be covered in terms of physical activities - now it's time to take a look at the other half of that equation.

I won't lie. I love junk food, I love booze, I love burgers, I love pizza, I love mex food, I love Italian, and pretty much whatever else the dietitians hate. If I have to give up all of the above in favor of salad and tofu like 99% of diet-related sources tell me to, I may as well just put a bullet through my head.

The point of this blog is to record and share my experiences in finding ways to improve my diet without having to become a professional dietitian and ruining the fun of eating.