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Video: The dirt on restaurant nutrition

TODAY
updated 12/13/2007 9:02:11 AM ET 2007-12-13T14:02:11

It didn’t surprise Dave Zinczenko and a team of Men’s Health editors that restaurants weren’t eager to share their nutritional charts, but what the team found surprised even its members. “Eat This, Not That” is based on the magazine's column by the same name but reveals so much more. Here's an excerpt:

Introduction: A Weight Loss Coach in Your Pocket
I don’t want you to read this book.

I don’t want you to read this book because I want you to do something else: I want you to USE it.

Use it when you’re out with friends. Use it when you’re shopping for your family. Use it when you’re idling in the drive-thru, waiting to talk to a clown. Use it to make smart, healthy, fat-busting food choices no matter where you are. Use it to strip away belly fat, build lean, firm muscle, and look and feel fitter, healthier, and happier than you have in years.

See, this isn’t a traditional diet book. Diet books are great when you’re sitting at home and reading. But how do they help you out in the real world, where an impatient server or a kid in a paper hat is waiting for your decision? Besides, I bet you have better things to do than sit inside reading diet books. Instead, you’d rather be out in the world enjoying yourself—having fun with office mates, sharing good times with family—and knowing that you’re making the right food choices every time. It’s simple: Just use EAT THIS, NOT THAT! as your sourcebook, and you can live life to the fullest and still lose weight and build the body you want.

Smart weight loss isn’t about staving yourself, or eating only grapefruit and tofu, or running everything you eat through a juicer (which really ruins the pizza experience, by the way). The smart path to weight loss is about smart choices—choices you make every day.

With EAT THIS, NOT THAT!, those choices just got easier.

As the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine, it’s my job to scour the studies, interview the experts, test out the trends, and compile the newest, smartest, most authoritative information on weight loss available. I even created my own diet franchise—The Abs Diet—which has sold more than one million copies, much of it by word-of-mouth. And it works! Tens of thousands of men and women have lost weight and rediscovered the firm, rippled abdominal muscles of their youth—and gained control of their waistlines, their health, and their lives.

So why EAT THIS, NOT THAT!?

It’s simple. No matter how successful The Abs Diet has been, it shares with all other diets one single dilemma: A diet only works if you have control over what, how, and when you’re eating. And as you well know, most of the time, you don’t have control.

Sure, you can cook your own dinner. You can brown-bag your own lunch. You can spoon yourself some yogurt in the morning and eat a healthy snack before bedtime. (And yes, there ARE healthy and delicious snacks to eat before bedtime.) But you can’t control what’s offered at the office cafeteria (unless you own the company), or what’s being served at Mom’s house for Thanksgiving (unless you’re Mom). And you can’t stand in the kitchen at Olive Garden or Mickey D’s and tell the chef to go easier on the vegetable oil, either.

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Consider this:
TWO-THIRDS OF U.S. ADULTS ARE NOW OVERWEIGHT, and the obesity rate has increased 50 percent since 1960. Is it because we all just turned into junk food junkies? No: It’s because restaurants and packaged food marketers are loading our meals with empty calories, and there’s nothing we can do about it—until now, that is!

THE FOOD INDUSTRY SPENDS $30 BILLION A YEAR ON ADVERTISING—70 percent of it pitching convenience foods, candy, soda, and desserts. Even the teens working behind the counter are coached to get you to upsize your meal. (And for an average of 17 percent more money, you get yourself 55 percent more calories! A bargain—if you consider flab a good investment.)

EVEN THE EXPERTS ARE CONFUSED. In a Cornell University study, 85 grad students and nutrition science professors served themselves ice cream. One group underestimated their own serving size—and caloric intake—by 40 percent!

But with EAT THIS, NOT THAT!, you’re the expert. You’re the expert in the frozen food aisle. You’re the expert at the deli counter. You’re even the expert at the sushi restaurant. You control your food universe because, unlike every other customer, you’ll know the smart choices to make—instantly!

Just think about what this means:

YOU’LL LOSE WEIGHT.
EAT THIS, NOT THAT is crafted to specifically target belly fat—by filling you with smart, healthy choices that rev up your resting metabolism and helping you burn away flab all day, every day, even while you sleep.

YOU’LL RESHAPE YOUR BODY.
Most diet plans force you to cut, cut, cut calories until you’re practically starving. And what do you get? Sure, you lose fat, but you also lose muscle. And muscle is crucial to keeping your metabolism revving and giving you the lean, firm shape you crave. So as soon as you go off your starvation diet, your body is primed to gain weight back more easily than before. But with EAT THIS, NOT THAT!, you’ll never go hungry. You’ll eat in the same places at the same times, but you’ll eat smarter. And that means you’ll be able to hold on to and even build firm, lean muscle while shedding useless, flabby pounds.

YOU’LL GAIN GREATER HEALTH.
The number-one principle of EAT THIS, NOT THAT! is to cut empty calories and add in nutrition—more bang for your caloric buck with every bite. And by carving away belly flab, you’ll cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer. (A University of Alabama-Birmingham study, for example, found that the amount of belly flab you carry is the single best predictor of heart disease—more so than blood pressure, cholesterol, or family history.)

YOU’LL EVEN GAIN RESPECT.
Not just the respect of those who admire your body—because let’s face it, staying lean is something successful people do—but the respect of coworkers and bosses, too. Don’t believe me? Consider this: A NYU study found that people packing on an extra 40 pounds make 20 percent less than their slimmer colleagues.

Those are some hefty promises, but EAT THIS, NOT THAT! has the insider info to deliver.

Thing about it: Do you really know what’s in the food you’re ordering at the sports bar, the fast food restaurant, the local diner, or the all-you-can-eat buffet? Not unless you’ve worked in the kitchen yourself. Do you really know if that burger is 250 calories, 500 calories, or 1,000 calories? No. (And now you’ll be shocked and amazed when you discover the truth!)

Well, now you know. And you’ll be able to make smart choices wherever you go, whenever you go. Losing weight and feeling fit and healthy has never been so easy. And there’s a reason for that:

EAT THIS, NOT THAT! is jam-packed with SECRETS THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW! For example:

BURGER KING doesn’t want you to know that a BK Big Fish Sandwich and fries have a whopping 1,000 calories—nearly half your daily caloric intake! (Fish is usually healthy, but not this kind. Find out why on page 39.)

PIZZA HUT doesn’t want you to know that a standard pizza in Italy contains 500 to 800 calories, but the same meal at Pizza Hut can top 2,100 calories! (You’d need to ride a stationary bike for more than three hours to burn off this mistake. Instead, eat all the pizza you want by making smart choices—I’ve outlined them on page 106.)

PANERA doesn’t want you to know that their Sierra Turkey sandwich packs 41 grams of fat! (The real criminal is the bread it’s served on—check out page 103 for details.)

MACARONI GRILL doesn’t want you to know that a single serving of their Grilled Salmon Teriyaki has more than three times your daily allowance of sodium! (Cut your risk of high blood pressure by making smart choices at the same restaurant. You’ll find them on page 117.)

APPLEBEE’S, OLIVE GARDEN, OUTBACK and RED LOBSTER don’t’ want you to know that they don’t’ provide full nutritional information for their products. We worked with the nutritional analysis website CalorieKing.com to find out what these titans of the restaurant industry are hiding, and what we found was astounding: A plate of Chicken Marsala at Olive Garden has 1,315 calories and 86 grams of fat; a salad at Applebee’s (their Grilled Steak Caesar) has more than an entire day’s worth of fat entangled in its leave; and Outback’s Aussie Cheese Fries, at 2,900 calories, is the single worst food in America. (Start your own investigation on page 6.)

No, the restaurant and packaged-food industries don’t want you to know any of this. They want you to go right ahead and keep ordering their food blindly, trying to eat healthy but never really knowing what’s in that not-so-happy meal in front of you, and wondering why the weight never seems to come off.

The funny thing is, if you only knew the insider information, you could eat at any of your favorite restaurants—or chow down on everything from the company vending machine to your kids’ Halloween buckets—and know that every decision you made was smart, healthy, and the best possible choice for you. For example, did you know:

AT KRISPY KREME, all you need to do is order the Very Berry Chiller instead of the Mocha Dream Chiller, and you’ll save 500 calories? (Do that once a week and you’ll drop more than 7 pounds this year—without trying!)

AT CHIPOTLE, you can cut 498 calories out of your Chicken Burrito just by ordering it as a bowl (without the tortilla) and asking them to hold the rice. (Same great taste, but with 83 fewer carb grams!)

AT COLD STONE CREAMERY, you can save 40 calories and 2 grams of fat by choosing shaved chocolate, not chocolate chips, as your topping. (Sure, you’re indulging—but why not indulge smartly?)

AT McDONALD’S, an Egg McMuffin is actually a healthy choice, with just 300 calories. (The Hotcakes pack more than double that amount!)

AT CHICK-FIL-A, not a single sandwich tops 500 calories. (When it comes to fast food, this might be the healthiest no-brainer around.)

IN THE PRODUCE AISLE, you’ll get twice the vitamin C—and nine times as much vitamin A—by simply picking red bell peppers over green ones. (Who said eating healthy was difficult?)

And that’s why EAT THIS, NOT THAT! is going to change everything. It’s time to level the playing field. We’re all tired of sneaky calories adding to our waistlines, and having to starve ourselves or spend hours on the treadmill trying to burn off the damage. Now—for the first time—you’re in charge!

For more great food swaps, nutritional secrets, quick and simple recipes, weight-loss tactics, and the latest breaking news on staying lean and feeling great, go to menshealth.com/eatthis

Excerpted from “Eat This, Not That” by Dave Zinczenko. Copyright © 2007 Dave Zinczenko. Excerpted by permission of Rodale Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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