Studies find that Eating out While on a Diet Nearly Impossible

For those that have said eating out while on a diet is nearly impossible and been told they were wrong, it turns out that they may have been closer to right than many previously thought.  Two studies published in Tuesday’s JAMA Internal Medicine have found that going to a restaurant and sitting down to a meal can be even more damaging to the health and weight that eating fast food.


A burger may look harmless, but when enjoyed while eating out, it could contain more fat and calories than many eat in one day.

A burger may look harmless, but when enjoyed while eating out, it could contain more fat and calories than many eat in one day.

Researchers at the University of Toronto studied the nutritional facts of foods that were typically ordered at 19 common sit down restaurant chains and found that on average, meals had more than 1,100 calories.  That’s 56 percent of the recommended average 2000 a day calorie intake for healthy adults.

In the past researchers found that, on average, a fast food meal has about 881 calories.

For those that think they are safe because they only eat out at dinner, they should think again because the study found that often, a lunch at the chain restaurants had over 1,000 calories and breakfast was over 1200 calories on average.

One author of the study, Mary Scourboutakos, says that the findings were slightly surprising, but it may have something to do with the amount of food that is served.  Breakfast meals had about as much food as dinner meals.

It turns out that there is even more to worry about when it comes to eating at the favorite restaurant:  Salt and Fat, as well as cholesterol levels of these meals, were extremely high.  Sodium content was at 151 percent of daily recommended amounts; cholesterol was at 60 percent of daily recommended amounts and fat came in at 89 percent of daily recommended amounts.

The study was done on over 685 meals from the most common restaurant chains, and all of the nutrition information is available for the public to see.  However, a second study published in JAMA Internal Medicine was done at Boston’s Tufts University, and it found that eating at smaller, independent restaurants was likely worse than their big chain counterparts.

The Tuft’s study was done on over 40 of the most common meals chosen at small chain restaurants.  All of the eateries in the study had fewer than 20 locations, so they don’t have to post any nutritional information, even under the new Health Care law.

The researchers had to use the common method called bomb calorimetry to determine how much heat was given off food as calories when it’s burned up to find out how many calories were in each dinner or lunch meal that was in the study.  On average, these entrees had over 1300 calories, which is 17 percent higher than meals that are similar at bigger chains.

Researchers suggest that those who are dieting, or have particular dietary needs should be wary of sit down restaurant meals as they are high in calories, fat and cholesterol.  Choose meals without sauces for one healthy option that will shave some calories, fat and sodium from the meal.  Also, have dressing delivered on the side of salads and go easy on cheesy meals, as many fats and calories can come from these foods.

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Written by Melissa Krosby

Melissa Krosby currently lives in Gainesville, Florida and has a myriad of experience in writing expos and articles on various niches. As an expert journalist she started her career in High School as the newspaper and yearbook director. Throughout her career her work has been published in thousands of well-known media outlets.However, she finds the best source for her expanding her skills is that of experience, in depth research, and relating to what readers like. Melissa is savvy with fitness, health, and diet articles as you will find she definitely has a way with words and keeping the readers interest. Contact Melissa at

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