Health conscious Brits heading out to Christmas meals and parties have been warned about five common restaurant foods with unexpectedly high calories. 

A team of experts from MuscleFood.com have revealed some of the meals most often found on high street restaurant menus that are hiding surprisingly high calorie counts – despite seeming to be healthier options. From chicken Caesar salads to simple pasta dishes, some of the foods often associated with a balanced, nutritious diet can in fact send your macros spiralling out of control. 

While some restaurants label the nutritional information of meals on their menu, a lot of restaurants do not, which can make deciding what to eat an onerous task. 

A spokesperson from MuscleFood.com says: ‘Not everyone is a specialist in knowing the nutritional values of each and every food, which is why many people can be fooled into thinking they are choosing a low-calorie option. 

‘People who want to keep tabs on their calorie intake should be wary choosing what meals to choose when eating at a restaurant – especially over Christmas when your social diary is bursting at the seams. 

‘We understand that Christmas is generally a time for indulgence, but at a time where you may find yourself eating out more regularly, it’s good to have at least some idea of what you’re putting into your body so you can keep on top of your health and fitness goals. 

‘We’ve found that traditional meals which are often associated with being ‘low fat’ or ‘healthy’ can in fact be the complete opposite, so eating these too often over the festive period could begin to unravel the effects of previous clean eating.’ 

Calorific starters

Many popular starters have a higher calorie count than a lot of restaurant-goers may realise which can add significantly to the number of calories consumed. Two starters that should be approached with caution are hummus dips with pitta bread and a serving of chicken wings. 

On average, a hummus starter is around 800 kcal while a selection of chicken wings can be nearly 1000 kcals. Although hummus is loaded with healthy fats and chicken with protein, dieters watching their calories need to be wary of these loaded starters. 

Surprising salads

The go-to meal and safe option for most dieters when eating out is a healthy salad, but don’t be fooled by all the greenery as some salads can contain nearly as many calories as a burger. 

One main culprit is the chicken Caesar salad which can contain on average a whopping 1030 kcals per meal. The secret behind the high calorie count is in the toppings, as many Caesar salads include a combination of creamy cheese, croutons and rich dressings. 

Mysterious mains

While many sushi dishes have a low-calorie count, there are more fattening options to be aware of. Sushi’s two main ingredients, fish and rice, can appear healthy but there are some dishes which contain a much higher calorie count than expected. 

Don’t be tempted by tempura, dishes that contain this are often the most calorific types of sushi. For example, a normal shrimp roll is around 180 kcals while a tempura shrimp roll contains over 500 kcals. This is because tempura dishes are deep fried, significantly increasing the number of calories. 

Cunning curries

Curry houses will be the restaurant of choice for many office parties across the UK, and with many dishes crammed full of healthy spices and vegetables it can be easy to think you’re staying well within your recommended calorie intake. 

But the average portion of chicken tikka masala – one of the nation’s favourites – with the usual rice and sides contains almost 1,300 calories – nearly two-thirds of the guideline daily amount (GDA). Even a chicken jalfrezi racks up over 720 calories and an average portion of peshwari naan bread contains a whopping 748 calories! 

Instead, opt for dishes without so much rich sauce and marinade such as grilled chicken tikka, and choose boiled rice over pilau and other fried options. 

Ignore Italian

Pasta is a staple meal found in many fitness regimes – but should generally be one to avoid for dieters when eating out. Certain dishes have a high calorie count due to sauces and toppings and fettuccine is one of the chief suspects, containing 900 kcals per serving – its rich sauce includes a whole tub of clotted cream, parmesan cheese and butter! Choosing a lower calorie dish like spaghetti meatballs is recommended. 

Misunderstood Mexican

Fajitas is another popular dish, but one key ingredient contains more calories than people may expect. Wraps are often associated with being a healthy alternative to bread and rolls, but high fat and sodium content mean they are full of calories. 

One plain wrap can contain 220 kcals and when added with traditional fajita fillings the calories can quickly add up. Having two or thrilled filled fajitas could add up to 1200 kcals. 

Food

Calories

Hummus with pitta bread

800 kcal

Ten Chicken Wings

955 kcal

Chicken Caesar Salad

1030 kcal

Two Tempura Shrimp Rolls

568 kcal

Chicken tikka masala main

1,259 kcal

Chicken jalfrezi

721 kcal

One peshwari naan bread

748 kcal

One serving Fettuccine Pasta

870 kcal

One Fajita Wrap

400 kcal