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Low-carb fast food: The latest trends

In the wake of the weight-obsessed American public’s enthusiasm for all things Atkins, new “low” or “reduced” carb offerings are flying off the shelves (with their high carb counterparts seeing a decline in sales).

Last year, ACNielsen reports, there were dramatic sales declines for a range of grocery staples: Instant rice down 8.2%, pasta down 4.6%, white bread down 4.7 percent, to name just a few of the categories where American dieters are having their influence.

And the same holds true in our restaurants – especially the fast-food ones – where low-carb offerings have captured a significant part of the market.

We brought some of the low-carb foods offered by the nation's chain eateries to the "Today" studio for a discussion on the trend — including the fact that the diet-friendly claims made for such items are, as yet, unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and therefore should be viewed with caution.

Here are prices, descriptions and nutrition information for the items:

HARDEE’S
Low Carb Thickburger
Price: $2.89Description: 1/3 pound charbroiled seasoned Angus beef patty wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves.  The amount of ketchup was reduced and the burger is also topped with mustard, mayo, cheese, tomato, red onion and dill pickles.Nutrition information: Calories 420, Total fat 32 g, Saturated fat 12 g, Total Carbs 5 g, and Net Carbs 3gCarbs saved: 49 fewer grams of carbs then the original Thickburger.

CARLS'S Jr.
Low Carb Six-Dollar Burger
Price: $3.95 Description: Same 1/2-pound hamburger as the original Six Dollar Burger, but served without the bun. Instead, the burger is wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves.  The amount of ketchup was reduced and the burger is also topped with mustard, mayo, cheese, tomato, red onion and dill pickles.  Nutrition information: Calories 490, Total fat 37g, Saturated fat 16g, Total Carbs 6 g, and Net Carbs 4gCarbs saved: 55 fewer grams of carbs than the original Six Dollar Burger. 

SUBWAY
Atkins Friendly Wraps

Version: Chicken Bacon Ranch Price: $4.49Description: Atkins-friendly carb controlled wrap, strips of tender white meat chicken, crispy bacon, fresh red onion, green peppers, olives, melted shredded Swiss cheese topped with creamy ranch dressing.   Nutrition information: Calories 480, Total Fat 27 g, Saturated fat 9 g, Total Carbs 19 g, and Net Carbs 8 g

Version: Turkey & Bacon Melt Price: $4.49Description: Atkins-friendly carb controlled wrap, sliced turkey breast, crispy bacon, fresh red onion, green peppers, olives, melted shredded Monterey cheddar blend cheese topped with flavorful chipotle southwest sauce.  Nutrition information: Calories 430, Total Fat 25 g, Saturated fat 9 g, Total Carbs 22 g, and Net Carbs 10 gNutrition information (wrap): The wrap itself is made with wheat gluten, cornstarch, oat, sesame flour and soy protein. Net Carbs 5g. (Calories 130, Total Fat 2.5 g, Saturated fat 0 g, Total Carbs 16 g.)

RUBY TUESDAY’S

Low Carb Creole Catch
Price: $8.00Description: Broiled Tilapia, Cajun-seasoned and served with broccoli and creamy cauliflower Nutrition information: Calories 541, Total Fat 29g, Saturated fat 9g, Total Carbs 23 g, Net Carbs 12
Spicy Chicken Wrap
Price: $6.99Description: Cajun-seasoned chicken garnished with spring mix, tomato and Dijon mustard sauce wrapped in a whole grain tortilla.Nutrition information: Calories 418, Total Fat 22g, Saturated fat 7g, Total Carbs 19g, Net Carbs 10g
Turkey
Burger Wrap
Price: $6.49Description: Ruby’s turkey burger garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and creamy Dijon mustard sauce wrapped in a whole grain tortilla.Nutrition information: Calories 363, Total Fat 20g, Saturated fat 4g, Total Carbs 16g, Net Carbs 7
T.G.I. FRIDAY'S

Tuscan Spinach Dip
Price: $7.29Description Parmesan and Romano cheeses blended with spinach, artichokes, sautéed onions and peppers. Served with fresh vegetables.  Share it and split the carbs!    Nutrition information: Calories 730, Total fat 56 g, Saturated fat 32 g, Total Carbs 28 g, and Net Carbs 17 g

Cheeseburger Cheeseburger
Price: $7.59Description Two of Friday's Natural Angus burgers, topped with melted American cheese.  Nutrition information: Calories 1280, Total fat 110 g, Saturated fat 44 g, Total Carbs 6 g, and Net Carbs 5 g

Sizzling Chicken with Broccoli
Price: $8.99Description Served over onions and peppers with melted American and Mexican cheeses. Nutrition information: Calories 1060, Total fat 72 g, Saturated fat 40 g, Total Carbs 23 g, and Net Carbs 16 g

Tuna Salad Wrap
Price: $7.49Description White Albacore with water chestnuts and a touch of wasabi.  Nutrition information: Calories 420, Total fat 30 g, Saturated fat 4.5 g, Total Carbs 17 g, and Net Carbs 13 g


DONATOS

"No Dough" Low Carb Pizza
Description This crustless 7” individual pizza is built on a bed of protein-rich crumbles.Price: Various

PEPPERONI  Ingredients: Loaded with pepperoni from edge to edge.Nutrition information: Calories 494, Total Fat 35g, Saturated Fat 16g, Total Carbs 16g, Net carbs 14.

WORKS  Ingredients: Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions Nutrition information: Calories 552, Total Fat 38 g, Saturated fat 17 g, Total Carbs 21 g, Net carbs 17 g

SERIOUS MEAT  Ingredients: Pepperoni, sausage, ham, ground beef, baconNutrition information: Calories 696, Total Fat 49g, Saturated Fat 21g, Total Carbs 18g, Net carbs 16g.

VEGYIngredients: Roma tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, red onions, green olives Nutrition information: Calories 413, Total Fat 25g, Saturated Fat 13g, Total Carbs 22g, Net carbs 18g.

MARIACHIIngredients: Ground beef, jalapeno peppers, cheddar and provolone cheese topped with lettuce, Roma tomatoes and sour cream Nutrition information: Calories 547, Total Fat 37g, Saturated Fat 19g, Total Carbs 23g, Net carbs 19g.

For more information about the low-carb products, visit Phil’s website at www.supermarketguru.com. You can e-mail Phil directly at Phil.Lempert@nbc.com

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