Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Panera Experiment

The Panera Experiment

Last week after a training session I treated a few of my young athletes to lunch at Panera Bread.  Before we arrived I advised them what a good choice would be.  Ultimately however I let them choose whatever they wanted. 

Here are the details:

½ Chipotle Chicken Sandwich (450 calories, 28 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 1050 mg sodium, 26 grams carbs, 25 grams protein)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup 8 oz. (190 cal, 10 g fat, 6 g sat fat, 1020 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 8 g protein)

1 baguette (140 cal, 2.5 g fat, 27 g carbs, 310 mg sodium)

8 oz. Soda (120 cal, 31 g carbs, 35 mg sodium)

Each young man ordered similarly.  They all had sandwich, soup, baguette and soda.  They finished off all of their food.

Total consumption for this one meal:

900 calories, 40.5 grams fat, 13 grams saturated fat, 2415 mg sodium, 100 grams carbs, 33 grams protein.

I opted for the Strawberry Chicken Salad (290 cal, 9 g fat, 1 gram sat fat, 300 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 26 g protein).  I was attempting to set a positive example.  That strategy didn’t work on this particular day but I am hoping they noticed. 

The young men were 15-18 years of age.  It would seem they would be capable of making good choices on their own.  The preceding data proves otherwise.

I have a new appreciation for the challenges parents face with their busy schedule while attempting to keep their families feed.  Home cooked meals are always the best option but that’s not realistic for most families.  That having been said you must be aware of how much you are actually consuming at a typical restaurant.   At the end of this article is the Government recommended Percent Daily Value based on a 2500-calorie diet.   The one area the boys already surpassed in this one meal was sodium.  That should be a red flag when dining out.  Almost all prepared meals are loaded with sodium.  You can usually do a good job keeping the fat intake under control but sodium is the real stinger.

The salad I ordered was decent choice but could have been far worse.  The salad supposedly contained fresh blueberries and strawberries (fiber rich carbs), plain pecans (healthy polyunsaturated fat) and all natural antibiotic free chicken (lean complete protein).  The salad also comes with a fat free dressing, mandarin oranges and pineapple.   I omitted the dressing (likely loaded with sugar and sodium) oranges and pineapple (fairly certain they came from a can).  After that the salad still had 300 mg of sodium.  If you have to eat out that salad would be a good choice with the omissions of course.

I can only imagine what these young men ate the rest of the day.  I will continue to educate them on the importance of good nutrition to on field and off field performance.  One sure way to waste a good workout is to follow it up with low quality re-fueling.

Percent Daily Values:

Based on 2500 calories diet

Fat 80 g
Sat. Fat 25 g
Sodium 2400 mg
Carbohydrate 375 grams

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