QuarterLife Girl Gets Fit!

Calculating Fast Food Calories

Posted on: January 7, 2010

I’m horrified, absolutely horrified.

You see, I like fast food. There’s some fast food that I think about and automatically think: junk. Not good for me. However, there are a few places that for one reason or another I’ve convinced myself can’t be that bad for me.

As you may know by now, I’m counting calories, a la Beck diet. (They just break down your meals by what you should be eating, such as 100 calories of fruit with 100 calories of start, plus 50 calories veggies, etc. etc.) Well, yesterday I thought to myself “I haven’t seen the BF all week, we should have dinner somewhere.” Now, I’m not one to visit a restaurant on a weeknight, so naturally fast food is what I was thinking. We’re both big fans of Pollo Tropical and Moe’s, so those were at the top of my list…..and then I remembered my calories. They recommend a 500 calorie limit for lunch and 700 calories for dinner.*

Well, that’s easy, I thought. I visited the two websites for their nutritional information. What I found, while not surprising, finally caused the reality to sink in…..fast food is still junk food. It’d be way healthier to eat at home.

Case in point: Moe’s.

I usually eat half a Joey Bag of Donuts (a burrito, for those not familiar). If you have it with a tortilla, chicken, black beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, and olives (which is what I usually get) that will have a whopping 785 calories!! Granted, by half that’s slightly less than 400 calories. If you get sour cream, guacamole, or queso…..well, it’ll have a lot more calories. But what about the chips? Those are 375 calories for a side of chips!!! (Salsa is just 15-25 per serving, so at least that isn’t too bad.)

Now let’s just sit down and digest these numbers. (Pun totally intended, heehee.) If you’re a person that eats a whole burrito as well as their chips (as I have done in the past, and most people I know do) that will be 785+375 = 1160 calories!! Holy moly! Even with only half a burrito, but all the chips that is still 767 calories, which is still 67 calories over my dinner limit, and 267 calories over my lunch limit! Pretty much the only way to stay within my dinner calories would be either to have half a Joey Jr., or skip the chips. [sigh] (And that’s not including sodas…..so it’s a good thing I only have diet soda, if at all.)

Case #2: Pollo Tropical

Again, I’m sure I’ve seen these values before, but for some reason it never sank in until today. I usually get a 1/4 Chicken Value Meal with White Meat, which includes a bread roll, white rice, and black beans. Of course, the curry mustard is the only reason I go in the first place, so I usually have a container of that as well. So, add up all that….and you get a whopping 948 calories. [gasp]

Granted, you can save 100 calories by leaving the skin, but who wants to do that?! That’s where all the flavor is, if you ask me. You can also save about 30 calories by getting the dark meat (which is cheaper anyway). So, the only way for me to be somewhat within my calories would be to skip the roll, have half of the rice, and half of the curry mustard container (which, by the way is a whopping 264 calories!!!!). That brings me to a total of 635 calories. Not too terrible.

I figured these meals were higher in calories than a home cooked one, but still, it finally dawned on me that just because the food isn’t fried doesn’t mean it’s low in calories.

I don’t mean to scare anyone away from Moe’s or Pollo Tropical with this. I love those two places, and chances are I’ll probably be returning in the future anyway…..but I sure will think a lot more before I stuff my face next time. I do not want to eat more than half a day’s calories in just one meal!

*This is based on a 2,200 calorie diet, calculated from my age, weight, and activity levels.

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2 Responses to "Calculating Fast Food Calories"

Try Pollo Tropical’s new handheld line of sandwiches and wraps! They’re less than 500 calories and incredibly tasty!

I suppose that’s pretty good advice….however the main reason I go there is for the rice and beans! (and curry mustard, of course) So a sandwich wouldn’t quite appease me. =[ (Unfortunately I like to whine about things I’m not willing to budge much on, lol. )

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