Night Out? 7 Calorie Bombs to Avoid

Article posted in: Nutrition
girls' night

It’s girls’ night: The perfect excuse to kick back with your closest girlfriends at your favorite spot. It’s just the thing you need to erase a really rough work week or to celebrate your latest low carb diet success. Truly, there’s nothing better.

But for many, girls’ night also means a table full of greasy, fried apps and enough empty glasses to fill a whole dishwasher—a real fat trap for those of us trying to trim down. So how do you partake without wreaking havoc on your weight loss progress? Keep the focus on your friends… not the food. Remember the real reason you’re there: The company. If your girlfriends are anything like ours, you could have a blast doing anything, anywhere. We’re pretty sure you’ll still have a great night with your girls even if you skip the super-sized frozen margarita. It also doesn’t hurt to take a peek at your destination’s website before you head out. Most restaurants now provide nutritional information for menu items online. Decide what you’ll order before you arrive so you won’t make any rash decisions.

And be sure to avoid these seven calorie bombs—some are sneaky, some are loaded with calories and sugar, and some are just easy to overdo:

1. The Bread Basket
When it comes, it’s almost automatic: Grab a roll, split it and start buttering. And why not? Besides water, the pile of bread delivered to your table is one of the few things you’ll get for free. But it’s not completely free: Each one, when slathered with butter, clocks in around 140 calories. Empty that basket and get the “free” refill, and you’ve eaten dinner before you’ve even ordered.

Which would make sense if it tasted incredible. But the bread’s usually not even that good… and it’s mostly tempting because you’re starving—and you keep eating it because there’s no healthy fat or protein to make your body feel full. Stave off that pre-meal craving by having a healthy snack that includes these stomach satiating nutrients before heading out: Stash a handful of nuts or a string cheese to have on the train ride over or as you finish getting ready. You’ll be less likely to crave the carb-y stuff and more likely to wait until your meal hits the table to dig in.

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2. Margaritas and Daiquiris
Even a lime margarita—clean and green, without strawberry, mango or other flavors—can be close to 300 calories with an astounding 36 grams of sugar. That’s more sugar than you’ll find in a serving of Skittles—which, keep in mind, are rainbow-colored pellets of sugar. And you’ll probably go for a second round of margs, meaning you’re downing 600 calories before the appetizers even arrive.

Compare that to white wine: 140 calories per six-ounce glass, and the same buzz. So if you absolutely must drink during girls’ night, and a refreshing seltzer won’t do the trick, opt for dry wines, light beers or small portions of clear liquors like vodka mixed with seltzer. And don’t forget to stave off a hangover! Order each drink with a glass of water so you won’t be tempted to soothe away a headache with greasy food the next morning.

3. A Gin and Tonic
Since it’s clear, you might think you’re in the clear with this drink alternative. But tonic water is basically clear, salty soda: Four ounces of one of the leading brands has 17.5 grams of sugar—probably because the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. That’s why this cocktail comes close to 200 calories per drink, about half the calories most people aim for in a meal.

If you absolutely can’t give up your gin and tonic, the swap’s easy: Diet tonic water has zero sugar, zero calories and is available at most bars.

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4. Guacamole
Avocado is loaded with healthy fats that can help you get and stay full, have been shown in studies to burn off belly fat, and have benefits for your heart health. Add in the lycopene from the tomatoes, and guac seems like a great choice.

But the serving size can be a slippery slope: A proper serving of guacamole is just a quarter cup, which at most restaurants, gets scooped onto one or two chips. And those chips aren’t helping, either: With chips and dip together, the “tableside guacamole” served at major chain restaurants can be almost 1500 total calories. At a table for three, you do the math: 500 calories per person if you finish—and who leaves guac unfinished? If you’re smart, you. Have a chip or two with a modest dip, and save your calories for your actual meal.

5. Caesar Salad
But it’s salad! Right?

In a technical sense, yes: It’s got a base of lettuce. But Caesar lived in a pre-tomato Rome (they were brought back from the Americas), and so his namesake salad is covered in cheese, creamy dressing that can be up to 180 calories per serving, and croutons that can deliver 93 calories in just a half-cup serving. Add some protein to that salad, and you could be consuming almost half a day’s worth of food: One popular restaurant’s grilled salmon Caesar has 920 calories.

Caesar may not have had tomatoes, but you do: Opt for a salad that’s loaded with lots of colors—not from tortilla strips, but from veggies.

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6. Chicken Wings
Wings pack a big caloric punch for being so small. That’s because they’re more skin (read: fat… and not the good kind!) than meat, and most buffalo sauces have a pretty simple recipe: Half melted butter, half hot sauce.

That’s why a “small” order of medium-heat wings from a top chain has 820 calories and a jaw-dropping (and pants-expanding) 45 grams of fat. That’s more fat than you’ll find in four servings of butter.

No wonder chickens can’t fly. Split an order and make it your meal, or skip the wings and get grilled tenders with dipping sauce on the side.

7. Anything that’s “Loaded,” “Double-stuffed,” “Creamy,” “Cheesy” or Just Plain Fried
All those terms are missing one word: Over. They’re OVERloaded, OVERstuffed, and usually OVERsized. An order of “loaded” potato skins at one popular restaurant has almost 1400 calories and nearly 100 grams of fat. Eat a few of those, and you’ll feel loaded—and bloated.

Here’s a simple rule that can keep things safe during your ladies night: Don’t go for appetizers, desserts or snacks with the word “and” in the description. So if it’s bacon AND cheese, or chocolate AND peanut butter, you’re getting double the treats by getting double the calories in the same order. Stick with single-mission foods that deliver the treat you’re really after—whether that’s chocolate, cheese or bacon—and save the calories from the “and” treat you can live without.