Are these fast foods "healthy?" -

Are these fast foods "healthy?"

Do you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day? We go from home to work, from work to get the kids and back home again. It's exhausting just think about trying to fit in a healthy meal along the way!

For those times when fast food best fits in our schedule, there are now some healthier options to consider. 

But will these so-called "diet" dishes help you battle the bulge? To find out, we visited two different fast food restaurants and ordered the same meal on three different days. We then took them to the food science program lab at Auburn University.

Over the course of two to three days, Professor Leonard Bell weighed samples from each meal. He blended the food, let it dry overnight and then grinded it into a course powder for analysis.

"We can figure out how many grams of fat are in the meal and approximately how many calories are in the meal," he said.

First, we hopped in a car to check out the drive-thru diet at Taco Bell. We grabbed a couple of Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Tacos, complete with lettuce, tomatoes and Fiesta salsa that should add up to 300 calories and 8 grams of fat.

In our test, we calculated 310 calories for one meal, 330 for the next and 490 calories on our last trip. (For some reason, cheese was added to this last meal.)

"People do believe that when they see a number on a menu or a number advertised, that is exactly what they are going to get," says Bell. "But with food, we do have a lot of natural variability."

We moved on to the "wise" menu at Wendy's for the Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Caesar side salad. This is one of five meals advertised as being 500 calories or less. But according to the restaurant's own website, this meal is really 610 calories and 24 grams of fat. We bought the combo three times, and according to our test it had 585 calories the first time. The numbers continued to climb, coming in at 670 calories on the second trip and a whopping 700 calories on the third. This last meal also appeared to have more cheese in the salad.   

After visiting several different restaurants as part of our healthy dish investigation, it seems like simple changes made to a restaurant meal could either help or hurt your diet. Just don't believe everything that you read!

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