Chili’s: Soup and Salad Keep You On Track Weight Loss!


Maybe you never frequent fast food but you eat at restaurants routinely.  Restaurants can be tricky because most of the main course contain 1000+ calories at one setting with 60-80 grams of carbs.  This is a recipe for disaster if your trying to lose weight.  Today we’re going to take a look at Chili’s.

First, stay away from the appetizers altogether or share them with a friend as a main course.  One of the lowest calorie choices is the Triple Dipper Boneless Buffalo Wings at 620 calories and 28 grams of carbs.  Sharing them with a friend will lower the calorie count to 310 calories.  All other appetizers fall in the 800-1000 calorie range which pushes you over your calorie and carb range.

Another option at Chili’s is the soup.  The Chicken Enchilada Bowl comes in at 400 calories and 26 grams of carbs.  You can lower the serving size to a cup and reduce the calories to 200 and the carbs to 13 grams.  In fact, you can almost go with any of the Chili or Soups if you stick to the cup as a serving versus the bowl.  Don’t even bother looking at the sandwiches.  They pack a whopping 1100-1500 calories and an absurd 109-140 grams of carbs, I think I gained weight just typing this.

A misconception at many restaurants is salads are a better choice, however at Chili’s you would be wrong.  Most of the specialty salads contain as many at 660 calories and 60 grams of carbs with the Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad weighing in at 1030 calories and 59 grams of carbs.  The House Salad is an option at 150 calories and 18 grams of carbs without dressing.

The Lighter Choice menu provides some options as well.  The Grilled Chicken Salad has 430 calories and 22 grams or carbs. The Lighter Choice 6 oz Classic Sirloin only has 250 calories and only 12 grams of carbs.  However just because it says lighter doesn’t mean it will help you lose weight.  The Margarita Grilled Chicken with sides has 650 calories and an unreal 72 grams of carbs.  Get rid of the sides and the chicken alone is 210 calories with only 10 grams of carbs.

The Southwest Menu is loaded with calories and carbs.  Ranging from 550-1740 calories and 50-120 grams of carbs. Your only option is having the chicken fajita without the tortillas which contains 390 calories and 24 grams of carbs.

The secret to eating out and losing weight is making good choices by keeping the calorie count below 450 and the carbs below 30 grams.  Do this and you can be successful even when you’re eating out.

Helping You Make Good Choices,

BBQ for Weight Loss?


I was asked to check out two local BBQ restaurants and provide you with some better choices when eating there.  Smoking Buns and Whole Hog are both favorite restaurants of mine.  However, local restaurants provide a problem due to there being no nutrition guides for individual menu items.  So I’m going to provide you the best choice using my modified Whole 30 guidelines to eating.

The Whole 30 much like the paleo link I asked you to read this week is a food process that focuses on providing nutrient dense food and restricting foods that can have a negative impact on health.  I would encourage anyone wanting to improve their health through diet to read “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  This program is very restrictive but very effective for individuals with autoimmune diseases.  I have modified some of the rules to make it less restrictive because I know many of you will read the first paragraph or two and say forget this.

So what are Jeff’s modified Whole 30 rules.

  1. Strive to eat food with lots of nutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants)
  2. Eat plenty of protein:  Meat, fish, and eggs.
  3.  Eat lots of vegetables.
  4.  Eat whole fruit.
  5. Eat oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
  6. Avoid grains. bread, pasta and rice.
  7. Avoid processed foods and sugar.
  8. Avoid alcohol.

So when it comes to BBQ the first thing you must do is ditch the sandwich.  Have the pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket, pork loin or chicken with slaw by itself.  Be conservative with the sauce because it’s generally loaded with sugar. The loaded baked potato with pork, chicken or beef are great choices.  However, stay away from the baked beans and potato salad because they are loaded with sugar.  The garden salad is another great choice.

I love catfish as much as the next guy, but if you’re trying to lose weight you must say no.  The breading is nothing but refined carbs that send blood sugar through the roof and as a result insulin levels will spike and shut down fat loss.  The lower you can maintain insulin levels the more body fat you will lose.

From a protein stand point BBQ restaurants are great, but from a vegetable stand point they are much like all other restaurants and really limit your ability to eat nutrient dense foods that contribute to weight loss.  The more vegetables you eat the more weight you will drop.  Increasing vitamins and minerals while lowering insulin levels is the key to losing weight short term, long term and over the long haul.

Helping You Make Great Choices,

Chic-fil-A: Never Fear the Chicken!


What’s available at Chic-fil-A when you’re trying to lean up?  The Spicy Chicken Sandwich is my favorite but if you’re working on your waist its off the menu.  If weight loss is your goal anything with bread is off the menu.  Chick-fil-A buns contain between 25-30 grams of simple carbs which places the spicy chicken sandwich at 44 grams of carbs and 480 calories.  Looks like my spicy chicken just went bunless.

Don’t fear!  Chic-fil-A has worked hard to lower the bad carbs and and provide great carb choices.  You just need to know what to pick.  Stick to the 3 piece traditional Chicken Strips with only 17 grams of carbs and 360 calories or go with the 8 count traditional Chicken Nuggets with 10 grams of carbs and 270 calories.

However, Chic-fil-A wants your weight loss business and has out done it’s self with its Grilled Chicken Nuggets.  An 8 count contains just 4 grams of carbs and only 140 calories while the 12 count only has 6 grams of carbs and 200 total calories.  You will not find any other fast food restaurant that will come close to this.

In addition, you could get the Grilled Chicken Sandwich on lettuce (without the bun) and it contains a mere 16 grams of carbs and 200 calories or add the bacon on the grilled chicken deluxe for an extra 120 calories of goodness but no extra carbs.

The salads and wraps are a great choice as well.  They are loaded with great carbs and run between 200-500 calories of quality nutrition.  Remember it’s never about the calories it’s all about nutrition density.  How many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants does it contain?

Chic-fil-A has some of the healthiest sides of any restaurant less the waffle fries.  As good as they are they are a no go at 37 grams of simple carbs and 310 calories.  However, the chicken salad cup, fruit cup, greek yogurt parfait, side salad and super food side are all on the menu for weight loss.  All are loaded with complex carbs, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  I really did not know how health conscious Chic-fil-A had become.

As always stick to water, unsweet tea or coffee for the drinks.

Overall if you are looking for a place to eat while losing weight Chic-fil-A is the place.  It’s really incredible what they’ve done to their menu.

Helping You Make Great Choices,

Zaxby’s: Count the Carbs, Not the Calories!


Not going to lie, I love chicken and Zaxby’s serves some good chicken.  However, when it comes to Zaxby’s you have to ignore the calories and pay attention to the carb count.  When you look at the calories attached to the food at Zaxby’s there is almost nothing to eat.  The menu ranges from 540 -1500 calories per serving.  This is when you have to peel back the layers and find what you can eat and still make progress with fat loss.

The first thing you have to think about is protein versus carbs.  What does this mean?   The body uses protein to repair and build things in the body.  If the body takes in excess protein it isn’t stored as fat like excess carbohydrates, instead it’s excreted through the digestive tract and kidneys.  This does not give the green light for overdosing on steak and chicken.  Too much protein can cause serious kidney problems to include kidney stones and even kidney failure in extreme cases.  However, occasionally eating more protein will not be detrimental to your health.

So, when you look at the Zaxby menu you must look at it from that perspective.  First, don’t eat the fries or the Texas Toast.  Eating either of these automatically add (Texas Toast 290 calories for 1 slice and 40 grams of carbs, Crinkle Fries 360 calories and 48 grams of carbs) bad carbs that increase blood sugar and insulin levels reducing your ability to burn fat.

The 5-piece Buffalo Fingerz & Chicken Fingerz have 630 and 610 calories however, the carb count is considerably low at 15 and 19 grams and a marked higher protein count of 46 grams.  The 5 piece Buffalo Wings has 540 calories, only 3 grams of carbs and 42 grams of protein.  Even though the calorie count is higher than I like it’s still acceptable due to the carb to protein ratio, because excess carbs make you fat.

The Zalads are great as long as you don’t eat the toast.  Without the toast the total calories range from 300-470 with a carb count in the single digits.  Even with dressing the carb count is considerably low.

While the menu is limited, you can find something to eat at Zaxby’s in a pinch.  However, I don’t recommend eating there every day or even every week.

Helping You Make Better Choices,

Tropical Smoothie: Looks Can Be Deceiving!

Another popular place to eat that at first sight looks pretty healthy is Tropical Smoothie.  I personally love smoothies and think they’re a great way to get a serving or two of fruits mixed with some vegetables.  The big issue with smoothies are the calories and carbs.  Tropical Smoothie makes their smoothies with all natural fruit but they add turbinado sugar or Splenda.  Turbinado sugar is an all-natural sugar that isn’t processed, but non the less it is sugar which means increased blood sugar levels and insulin levels which spells trouble if you’re losing weight.   You do have a Splenda option which reduces calories and carbs considerably, but I’m not an advocate of using Splenda and could and probably will write a blog post on it sometime.  If you’re currently struggling to lose fat I would not choose a smoothie from tropical smoothie.  There is one exception.  You can request a smoothie without turbinado sugar or Splenda.  However, my advice is buy a blender and make your own without any sugar added.

The wraps I love so much are off the menu unless your sharing with a friend.  All wraps contain 550-675 calories and 50-80 grams of carbs.  My favorite the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wrap contains 625 calories and 73 grams of carbs.  I won’t be having one of those for a while.  Toasted Sandwiches and Flatbreads aren’t much better.  Calorie counts range from 370-730 while carbs range from 40-65.
The Feisty Feta Chicken Flat Bread has 370 calories with 44 grams of carbs.  Not the best but doable.

You can choose from any of the taco’s.  Cilantro Lime Fish is the best coming in at 186 calories and only 23 grams of carbs.  The Thai Chicken Salad is another option coming in at 339 calories and 38 grams of mostly good carbs.

Skip the breakfast foods.  They weigh in heavy at 500-775 calories and 40-85 grams of carbs.  However, they have two great snacks the fruit medley at 85 calories and 23 grams of carbs or kale and apple slaw at 70 calories and only 6 grams of carbs.

While Tropical Smoothie sounds like a healthy place to eat, if you’re trying to lose weight it’s not a great option.  Buy a blender and make your own smoothies, but try to keep the serving size to 10-12 ounces.  Next, we will be looking at Zaxby’s menu.  Another request from one of our boot campers.

Helping You Make Good Food Choices,

Wendy’s: Can She Help You Lose Weight?

I’ve gotten lots of great feedback from the fast food tips so I will keep them coming.  Today I did some research on one of my favorite places.  I fell in love with Ms. Wendy while I was in college and she will always have a special place in my heart and stomach.  Not going to lie I was a little scared to do the research here but Wendy’s has some pretty good choices.  Once again let me say good quality protein, vegetables and fruits are your best choices but if your caught in a pinch and you need a go to, Wendy’s could be the place.

The sausage and egg burrito is your best choice for breakfast.  This tasty burrito contains 270 calories and only 12 grams of carbs.  This could be an excellent way to start your day if you don’t have access to your eggs and sauerkraut.

I was surprised the small vanilla frosty only has 280 calories but is loaded with sugar (47 grams) which makes it a no no if your trying to lose weight.  Half an Apple Pecan Chicken Salad or Half a BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad are both great options.  Both come in at 180 and 210 calories with only 17 grams of carbs  and most of those carbs are good carbs..

The 1/4 lb burger with the bun is a no go at 580 calories and 42 grams of carbs, however trade the bun for lettuce and you reduce the calorie count to 400 and lower the carb count to nearly zero.  Another option is the Jr. Bacon Cheese Burger with the bun its 400 calories and 25 grams or carbs and without the bun its 300 calories and nearly zero carbs.

I’m not a chicken nugget guy but the 6 piece nugget or spicy nugget packs 280 calories and only 15 grams of carbs.  In addition, the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap is 260 calories and 25 grams of carbs.

You can have all the black coffee and unsweetened tea you want but stay away from the other drinks because they are loaded with calories and sugar.

Wendy’s is a restaurant with several choices but doesn’t replace the home kitchen.  Make sure your taking a liquid or gummy vitamin if you are a frequent restaurant visitor.

Helping you make better food choices,

What Do You Do When McDonald’s is the Only Choice?


Every morning when I’m leaving boot camp I drive by McDonald’s and am amazed at the number of people in the drive through. If you’re wanting to lose weight McDonald’s is not the place to start your day unless you’re prepared to order outside the box.  A sausage egg and biscuit contains 510 calories and 36 grams of carbs (personally thought there would be more carbs).  The big breakfast with hot cakes contain 1090 calories and 111 grams of carbs (all simple carbs).  That’s all the carbs you need for the entire day, OUCH!  A Sausage McMuffin contains 360 calories and 29 grams of simple carbs which is the major problem with McDonald’s.

So how do you fix breakfast?

It is possible to eat breakfast at McDonald’s but you must go rogue.  Get an egg or two with sausage minus the biscuit or McMuffin.  An egg is about 80-100 calories while the sausage is around 100-120 calories, but more importantly there’s zero simple carbs.  When eating on the go you must always ask the question.  How do I eliminate simple carbs from this meal?

If you choose to eat lunch or dinner at McDonald’s you must become Yoda and choose wisely.  The Big Mac has 550 calories and 46 grams of carbs.  A simple cheese burger has 300 calories and 33 grams of carbs.  Even the grilled chicken sandwich contains 350 calories and 42 grams of simple carbs.

Ever since I watched “Super Size Me” Chicken McNuggets have not been on my menu, but the 6 piece does meet our weight loss criteria at 280 calories and only 18 grams of carbs.  The grilled chicken chilpotle BBQ wraps will also work at 270 calories and 25 grams of carbs.  The bacon ranch premium garden salad with grilled chicken would be my personal pick at 230 calories and 10 grams of great complex carbs.

McDonald’s has a very limited menu if you’re serious about losing weight and getting healthy.  Outside the salad, vegetables are non-existent. (french fries, pickles & ketchup don’t count as a vegetable).  In addition, McDonald’s food contains very few vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  If you are absolutely out of options McDonald’s provides a few quick options that will work in a pinch.

Helping You Make the Best Choice with a Bad Option,


Can I Lose Fat Eating Sonic?

Over the past two or three months I’ve taken notice to a common theme around fitness boot camp.  The theme is life is very busy and as a result you don’t have time to plan meals and even cook dinner on a lot of nights.  It’s easier to go through a drive through and pick something up.  With that said, I want to help you make better choices when eating out.

There’s no secret that my 4:30 PM class has a fondness for Sonic.  So let’s visit and find some things you can eat at Sonic and still lose weight.  I’ll be honest I went into this thinking that finding something at Sonic would not be that big a deal, but it was.  A regular Burger with a bun is between 600-700 calories dependent on what you put on it.  The enlarged buns they use carry a whopping 200 calories of nothing more than 46 grams of pure simple carbohydrates ready to drive up sugar and insulin levels and be stored as fat.  So what do you do?

You basically have about 4-5 not so great choices. You can go with the regular burger and have them put it on lettuce instead of a bun.  Now you’re down to 400-450 calories which is doable for most.  You could have the Jr. Cheese Burger for 380 calories or remove the bun and lower the carbs 32 grams and calorie count to 260.  The grilled chicken wrap could work but it’s still 430 calories and 42 grams of carbs.  The Jr. Breakfast Burrito could work at 280 calories and 23 grams of carbs.  On the drink side of the house you basically have water and milk with everything else loaded with sugar or artificial sweetener.

Let’s just say Sonic is not fat loss friendly with most meals ranging from 600-1400 calories and all are loaded with simple carbs which spell disaster for weight loss.