There are times in every aspiring ab-owner’s life – in an unfamiliar industrial park, at the roadside service station, on the last train – when throwing together a quick avo-toast-and-eggs isn’t an option. And at those times, one needs a backup plan for whatever’s available – including a trip to see old uncle Ronald. ‘Surprisingly, this is one of your best options, says nutritionist Chris Hall. ‘They have a grilled chicken salad, which comes in at just 133 calories with 20g of protein and 4g of carbs – spot on if you’re trying to eat low-carb or low-fat. If you’re really hungry, you could even fit two in.’ Double-fist them on the night bus with pride.
There he is. The Colonel. Patrician moustache and that suit reminding you that, whatever else is going on, the demands of being a mega-national corporation means you’re probably subject to more stringent safety regulations than, say, The Alabama Chick’n Slam. It’s going to be fine, right? Yeah. ‘Avoid anything with ‘popcorn’ in the title,’ says Precision Nutrition coach Jessica Wolny. ‘The rice boxes actually aren’t bad, but get the Toasted Twister - lower-carb, high protein, and a whisper of tomatoes to give you some lycopene. No, it doesn’t count towards your five-a-day.’
Ah yes. Three days to payday, pub quiz tonight, and you’ve spent all your money on bespoke daps and flatware again. Something has to give, and it might as well be lunch – so while everyone else spends the price of a new hardback on one salt-beef bagel, you head to old faithful. ‘Steer away from the Steak Bake – 406 calories, 26g of fat.’ says Hall. ‘You want the coconut, lime and chilli chicken salad. Made with mixed grains, it comes in at 220 calories, with 15g of protein – and the vegetarian option with falafel isn’t bad either.’ Boffo!
Sure, when times were leaner, the all-you-can-eat buffet – sweet Jeebus, so much sweetcorn-and-mushroom – seemed like an attractive option. But you’re better than that now. You’ve changed. ‘The flatbreads are your best bet, especially the chicken delight,’ says Hall. ‘You’re talking 443 calories and a great 33.1g of protein. The ratio between fats and carbs is also great - you’re getting a reasonable amount of carbs in without also loading up your fat, which is the common issue when eating pizza.’ Sparkling water on the side? Now you’re lunching.
The mothership. When Big Al comes to town for his birthday and insists - insists! - on going to Leicester Square, there’s no way you’re mopping up the Wetherspoons carnage with a salad. The King’s right there! ‘You want the King Fish,’ says Wolny. ‘A decent hit of protein, a seventh of the saturated fat you’d get in a Smoked Angus, and it doesn’t actually taste that bad.’ Grab some apple slices off the kids’ menu and you’ll still have a pocketful of change for your inevitable casino fleecing.