By Beth Lipton
Panera Bread—so often the solution whether you’re looking for a quick breakfast on the go or a lunchtime option that has something for everyone. Now, don’t think just because they have “bread” in the name you won’t be able to make healthy choices. We asked experts for their tips on how to order like a champ.
“For me, what I’m ordering depends on what else is going on that day,” says New York-based fitness and wellness professional Troy Brooks. “On a day when I work out heavy, I could see having the Avocado, Egg White & Spinach Sandwich for breakfast. It’s lighter in calories than a lot of the other items on the menu, but it still has those essential fats, and it’s fairly nutrient dense. Or I might go for the steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast.”
For Brooks, less activity means lighter fare. “If I’m not doing an intense workout that day, I’ll ask for eggs and a few pieces of bacon. I’ll skip the carbs, and maybe get some black coffee. No matter what, I always have plenty of water to stay hydrated and help fill me up. On a less intense day I’ll want to keep the calories low.”
Another thing to keep in mind when ordering: “People often judge choices by how they sound instead of the reality,” warns Milwaukee-based registered dietician nutritionist Nicole Kerneen. Plus, “many restaurant meals are wildly out of balance. Before you decide, always look at the nutrition information that’s available.”
If you’re headed to Panera for lunch, Kerneen recommends a half sandwich. And if that isn’t enough food, have a salad with it—but be mindful there, too.
“In a lot of restaurants, not just Panera, there’s a ton of sugar added to things,” she says. “Look out if there’s dried fruit in the salad or sugars in the dressing. Be aware of that. What are the ingredients in what you’re eating? Always find protein, fiber, and lots of vegetables, and watch out for everything else.”
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