Keep salad healthy by skipping the high-calorie toppings

Salad can be a deceptive food choice. People select it as a healthy alternative to a high-fat, high-calorie double cheeseburger, but they may not be getting the low-calorie benefits they want.

Put simply, the more that goes into a salad, the less beneficial it may be for someone trying to lose weight. It all depends on what goes on top of the lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables that populate the dish.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, unsuspecting diners may be topping their salads with a host of foods that add a high number of calories as well as a load of salt that may take them beyond the recommended daily amount.

The academy suggests a number of substitutions to keep a salad appealing. For instance, high-calorie choices like bacon, fried chicken strips and shrimp can be replaced by leaner proteins such as grilled chicken or tuna. Forego the nuts, noodles and cheese toppings. They frequently add salt as well as fat.

Always ask for dressing on the side so the salad doesn’t become soaked in a dressing that’s loaded with calories. Ask for a low-calorie dressing, but if it comes in a closed packet, check the calorie count and use it moderately. Dressing packets often contain much more than one serving of salad dressing.

Try a selection of new greens – spinach, arugula, red and green leafy lettuce – to share the plate with standard iceberg lettuce. They add different textures and visual interest as well as nutrition.

In restaurants, ask the server if extra vegetables can be added to a salad rather than toppings that increase the fat content of the dish.

A daily supplement such as Gold Standard Protein shake by Dr. Newton’s Naturals is another way to maintain a balanced diet that keeps weight gain in check. It contains soy and whey with 32 amino acids, vitamins and minerals and comes in a variety of different flavors.