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Healthier Choices at Chain Restaurants: 25 Low-Cal Options for Losing Weight

How to enjoy eating out with friends and family—and still shed pounds.

iStock/mihailomilovanovic

Go ahead: Eat out without guilt

Dining out is an enjoyable—and let’s face it, inevitable—part of life. Good news: That doesn’t mean it has to blow your diet. When you eat out, be wary of menu words such as “golden,” “smothered,” “marbled,” and these, which may translate to “high in calories” and “fatty.” Limit condiments, such as creamy salad dressing or thick gravy, which sneakily add extra calories to your dish. Finally, keep this list of common chain restaurant meals from the Stop & Drop Diet handy — even the most decadent options (like three-cheese macaroni!) will keep you on track to reach your weight loss goals.

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Burger King Original Maple Flavored Quaker Oatmeal: 170 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Dunkin’ Donuts Jelly Donut: 270 calories

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Perkins Belgian Waffle: 350 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Au Bon Pain Egg Whites, Cheddar, and Avocado Breakfast Sandwich: 360 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

McDonald’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait: 150 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Wendy’s Small Rich and Meaty Chili: 170 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Denny’s Clam Chowder Cup: 200 calories

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Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Cup: 230 calories

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Applebee’s Lunch Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, No Dressing: 320 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Half Size California Pizza Kitchen Chinese Chicken Salad: 420 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Arby’s Roast Beef Classic Sandwich: 360 calories

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Starbucks Ham and Swiss Panini: 380 calories

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White Castle Double Original Slider: 240 calories

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Five Guys Bunless Hot Dogs: 285 calories

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6 oz Outback Steakhouse Sirloin: 254 calories

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Longhorn Steakhouse Cowboy Pork Chops: 580 calories

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Chili’s Make It a Combo Portion Half Rack of Original BBQ Ribs: 460 calories

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Red Lobster Create Your Own Combination Garlic Grilled Shrimp: 240 calories

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Cheesecake Factory Lunch Menu Simply Grilled Salmon: 480 calories

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TGI Friday’s Sizzling Chicken and Spinach: 440 calories

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Corner Bakery Café Mac & Three Cheese: 530 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

½ Order PF Chang’s Almond and Cashew Chicken: 365 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

Chipotle Salad Made with Barbacoa, Brown Rice, Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and Lettuce: 430 calories

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¼ thin crust California Pizza Kitchen Roasted Artichoke and Spinach with Chicken: 302 calories

Courtesy Stop and Drop

3 Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips with 1 packet Barbeque Sauce: 405 calories

Try even more healthy options

Find mouthwatering appetizers, meals, snacks, and desserts that will help you lose weight in the new book, Stop & Drop Diet—and lose up to five pounds in five days.  Learn more about the Stop & Drop Diet here.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Liz Vaccariello
Liz Vaccariello is the Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine, the 2.2 million rate-base title. In addition, she is currently the Group Editorial Director for Parents Latina and Meredith's lifestyle titles including Shape, Real Simple, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, and Health. Vaccariello has led many of the media industry's most recognizable brands, developing content across print, digital and social channels. Prior to joining Meredith, Vaccariello held numerous executive editorial roles including serving as the Chief Content Officer for Reader's Digest. She has also served as Editor-in-Chief of Rachael Ray Every Day; Editor-in-Chief of Prevention; Executive Editor of Fitness; and Editor-in-Chief of Cleveland Magazine. Vaccariello regularly appears on national broadcast media including The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, and Dr. Oz. She is the author of nine best-selling books, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Flat Belly Diet! She has received numerous awards and honors over her distinguished career and is a frequent speaker at major summits presented by the MPA, Folio, MIN, and Digiday among others. Vaccariello, who is the parent of twin daughters, earned a BA in Communications with Distinction from the University of Michigan and lives in New Jersey with her family.