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Video: Is that chicken making you chunky?

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    designed to do one of three simple things: the weeding? * all you need...

    >>> we're back now at 7:41 with "eat this not that!" if you're watching your weight, you probably tend to order chicken when you go out to a restaurant. well, that can be the wrong choice. the author of "eat this not that!" it is a whole series. david , good morning. this is one of my favorite segments because we just freak people out. but before we get to some of these caloric numbers and numbers on saturated fat and sodium, let's put up a graphic that reminds me of the recommended daily intake of these kinds of thing.

    >> you should have 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day.

    >> we encourage people to keep those numbers in mind as they take a look at some of their favorite chicken meals from restaurants. this is now per meal. let's start with chili's, buffalo chicken ranch sandwich.

    >> the problem here is it has 1,560 calories. okay? you could go there and you can have a rack and a half of ribs. this is the equivalent -- check this out -- this is the equivalent of having seven scoops of haagan-dazs vanilla bean ice cream .

    >> just in this chicken sandwich and people order it because they think it is better than some of the other things.

    >> order the chicken , look like a buffalo. buffalo chicken .

    >> don't pick on chili's because they do have some good meals.

    >> you could get a guiltless chicken sandwich and chili's it's only 610 calories. the thing is you're going to be saving 900. that's a huge difference right there.

    >> you can have a couple scoops of haagan-dazs right there. crispy orange chicken bowl. this comes from applebee's. the big problem here is the sodium number.

    >> here you have 1,900 calories in this chicken dish right here. okay? but then applebee's pours a little bit of salt on your wound by giving you two days' worth of sodium which is 12 large orders of french fries from mcdonald's.

    >> let me get that number -- 4,250 milligrams of sodium.

    >> yeah, right there. instead, get the margarita chicken at applebee's, it is absolutely delicious and it is only 700 calories. the thing is if you make that swap a few times a week --

    >> that's a huge savings.

    >> you're losing a pound a week.

    >> let's move on. this next one is baja fresh . this is their char broiled chicken nachos. i have to be honest with you, anybody that hears the name nachos and thinks they're getting a really healthy meal at a restaurant, probably not thinking too well.

    >> in this case, baja fresh puts the nut in nachos. this is 2,020 calories, 41 grams of saturated fat . again, that's two days' worth of saturated fat . 4 grams of trans fat , which are not good. you end up having it be the equivalent, calorie equivalent, of 34 chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies .

    >> a basic sit-down snack for me.

    >> you're much better having the chicken tacos. you'll save 1,400 calories.

    >> all of these restaurants off healthier alternatives. let's move on to outback steakhouse . they have their alice springs chicken quesadilla. a lot of people think chicken quesadilla sounds pretty healthy.

    >> in this case, you're getting 2,100 calories in these chicken quesadillas. it is 3,477 milligrams of sodium. it's 61 grams, or three days' worth, of saturated fat . it is the calorie equivalent, matt, of --

    >> this is what i've been smelling --

    >> -- 15 white castle burgers.

    >> 15?

    >> 15.

    >> you could eat this, or this.

    >> i wouldn't recommend either of them. sliders, back-slider.

    >> this is the cheesecake factory . this is chicken and roasted garlic meal.

    >> this has 2,600 calories. i don't want to pick on them but the fact is they have a half-dozen chicken and pasta dishes at cheesecake factory that are over 2,000 calories. in this case, this has 62 grams of saturated fat . to give you an idea, matt, of what that is, it is 62 strips of bacon. i mean just a few more strips and i think you can officially call it kevin. i mean this is not what you want. if you go there and you get one-half of the chicken sandwich , it is 548 calories. you've saved 2,000 calories in one meal.

    >> you stay up late thinking of these lines, don't you? that's good. kevin bacon . i like it. you just got it? what did you think he was talking about?

    >> that will show you the level in our studio right there.

    >> david , thanks.

    >>> up next, an exclusive interview,

updated 4/2/2010 8:51:15 AM ET 2010-04-02T12:51:15

Back when "The Price is Right" first aired, Americans were eating fewer than 20 pounds of chicken per year. Flash forward 54 years and our annual chicken poundage has jumped closer to 60. That’s an increase of more than 300 percent.

So what accounts for the hike? Obesity, heart disease, diabetes — you name it. As studies began linking fatty diets to a litany of maladies, meat eaters started looking for an alternative to beef, and chicken farmers began cranking out the birds. Not long after, pork was relegated to its inferior position as “the other white meat.”

But as chicken sales took flight, there was another trend dominating American eating habits. That was the growth of a monolithic restaurant industry that now pulls in about half of our total food dollars. And the battle to get the biggest share of those dollars led to some unsettling practices. Innovative restaurateurs began adding flavor by injecting salt and monosodium glutamate. They rolled chicken in breading, dropped it in hot grease, marinated it in oil, and smothered it with cream and butter — all the while still promoting the idea of a “healthy” alternative to beef. And get this: According to "Eat This, Not That!" research, the average piece of chicken has 266 percent more fat than it did in 1971, while its protein content has dropped one-third!

Looks like we should have listened to Alfred Hitchcock. When he filmed “The Birds” in 1963, just as chicken sales were starting to climb, he must have been trying to warn us about what we were up against: killer birds. Don’t believe it? Take a look at the sorry state of chicken today, compliments of the best-selling “Eat This, Not That!” series.

Worst chicken sandwich
Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Ranch Sandwich

  • 1,560 calories
  • 86 g fat (14 g saturated)
  • 4,010 mg sodium

Take a minute to free associate. What comes to mind when you hear “chicken sandwich”? A light-and-healthy dinner? A good post-workout lunch? Both of those sound about right. But here’s where this sandwich veers from expectations: It sucks up three-fourths of your day’s calorie allotment. Plus it exceeds your daily recommendation for both fat and sodium. That’s what you call a dirty bird.

Equivalent: This dish has as many calories as in 7 scoops of Haagen-Dazs Five Vanilla Bean ice cream

Eat this instead!
Guiltless Grill Grilled Chicken Sandwich w/Veggies

  • 610 calories
  • 12 g fat (5 g saturated)
  • 1,310 mg sodium

Worst chicken rice dish
Applebee’s Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl

  • 1,880 calories
  • 13 g saturated fat
  • 4,250 mg sodium

Applebee’s is making strides toward a healthier menu, but as of yet the chain still has a lot of ground to cover. To its credit, it recently launched a sub-menu featuring entrees that all fall beneath 550 calories. Unfortunately, the regular menu still carries caloric catastrophes like this. For starters, the Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl delivers nearly a day’s worth of calories, but to top that, it throws in more sodium than you’d find in a dozen large orders of McDonald’s French Fries. That might be good for thawing your driveway, but it’s not so great for fueling your body. The good news: There are always healthier options.

Equivalent: There’s as much sodium in this dish as in 12 large orders of McDonald’s French Fries!

Eat This Instead!

Margherita Chicken

  • 700 calories
  • 8 g saturated fat
  • 2,420 mg sodium

Worst chicken nachos
Baja Fresh Charbroiled Chicken Nachos

  • 2,020 calories
  • 110 g fat (41 g saturated, 4 g trans)
  • 2,980 mg sodium

Okay, so you probably already knew Nachos were trouble, but could you have ever predicted anything like this? Even if you split this dish among three of your friends, you’re each still consuming over 500 calories — and that’s before the main meal even arrives. Put it this way: If you’re looking for a Mexican chicken dish, don’t order one that comes teeming with fatty and caloric extras, like heaps of cheese and carbo-loaded chips.

Equivalent: There are more calories in this one dish than in 17 servings of Chewy Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies! (It’s about 2 cookies per serving, so you could say as many calories as in 34 cookies!)

Eat this instead!
Original Chicken Tacos (3)

  • 630 calories
  • 15 g fat (3 g saturated)
  • 690 mg sodium

Worst chicken appetizer
Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken Quesadilla

  • 2,141 calories
  • 133 g fat (61 g saturated fat)
  • 3,477 mg sodium

Video: Is that chicken making you chunky? (on this page) Since 2008 we’ve been harping on Outback to clean up its act, but so far the chain has refused. In fact, the only reason we were able to track down this nutrition information is that New York and California laws forced restaurant franchises to disclose their numbers. And only after we made it public did Outback start offering it to all its customers. A victory for nutrition? Not with numbers like these.

Equivalent: There are as many calories in this dish as in 15 White Castle burgers!

Eat this instead!
Walkabout Soup of the Day — Cup

  • 281 calories
  • 21 g fat (13 g saturated)
  • 1,175 mg sodium

Worst chicken entree in America
The Cheesecake Factory Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic

  • 2,579 calories
  • 62 g saturated fat
  • 1,983 mg sodium

Healthy it may sound, but chicken-in-pasta is the culinary equivalent of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, The Cheesecake Factory’s menu features fully half a dozen chicken-pasta entrees in excess of 2,000 calories apiece. That’s a full day’s energy needs in one meal. Level that with the rest of the oversized entrees and The Factory emerges as the absolute worst restaurant in the country. Which is a shame, since a healthy diet isn’t complicated.

Equivalent: There’s as much saturated fat in this dish as in 62 strips of Oscar Mayer bacon.

Eat this Instead!
One-Half Chicken Salad Sandwich

  • 548 calories
  • 8 g saturated fat
  • 850 mg sodium

© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.

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