Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Salads and Weight Loss: Makers or Breakers?

Think if you just eat lots of salads you'll be bound to lose weight? Think Again. There is such a preconception (and misconception) out there about salads - that they're 'diet' food and that they're all healthy - but this is far from the truth.

Sure, on the surface it seems that salads are pretty low-cal, but beware - they can derail your diet just as fast as any other meal out there! You see, calories can be hiding in all kinds tasty little packages in your salad - from the dressing, to just about anything that gets sprinkled on top. Dinner-sized salads in restaurants often come on huge plates, and can be filled with large amounts of nuts, seeds, cheese and other tasty calorie and fat-filled morsels that should otherwise be eaten in more moderate portions. Even if they're not drowned in dressing, these suckers can range anywhere from 500 to over 1000 cal, easy!

In addition, studies have shown that, calorie for calorie, there's just something more psychologically satisfying about eating a complete meal such as a sandwich with a small side salad, as opposed to a humongous salad. Plus you won't feel as bloated afterwards! Yes, weight loss ultimately boils down to calorie intake and output, but if you're miserable with what you're eating, you're probably going to make up for it, later! Think about it - how are French women so thin even though French cuisine consists largely of bread, butter, meat and cheese? It's all about small portions and satisfaction.

Now, don't get me wrong - salads actually can be great for weight loss if they're done right! In a study that offered participants one of two sizes of starter salads, with three different levels of nutrient densities, it was found that lower-calorie salads, especially larger ones, eaten before a meal can reduce the total number of calories consumed in that meal.

Bottom line - if you want to lose weight, why not start off with a low-cal garden salad and mix things up with a tasty sandwich or wrap? You'll feel like you just ate an actual meal and chances are you won't end up overeating. Just remember to order that dressing on the side!