A good diet is one that allows you to progress towards your goals in a sustainable fashion.
This means eating a variety of foods that you enjoy. It also means fitting meals around your lifestyle, not fitting your lifestyle around a strict meal schedule.
A sustainable diet will also allow you to go out and enjoy time with friends.
I recently wrote an article surrounding how you can eat out without ruining your diet. I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so already.
I’d now like to start a series of articles focusing on specific restaurants and outlining the best menu choices for those who are dieting.
For the first article in this series I’m going to be focusing on Nando’s.
Founded in 1987, there are now over 1000 Nando’s restaurants across 30 countries.
The concept was born in South Africa, but the cuisine is Afro-Portuguese.
The legendary flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken has been a favourite in the UK, especially amongst the bodybuilding community.
In-fact, as far as restaurants go, Nando’s is a dieter’s dream. The wide range of well-seasoned lean means, tasty carbohydrates sources and notorious sauces makes it a popular choice for all.
On the face of things, it seems like you almost can’t go wrong.
Unfortunately, though, you can. I’m going to dive into some of the best and worst choices for those looking to lose fat and get healthier.
If you’re feeling peckish, Nandos have 5 individual appetisers and 2 sharing platters.
In terms of the individual starters, the clear winner for those dieting is the Spicy Mixed Olives.
These contain just 138 calories, very little protein or carbs and 13.5g of fat. They also have 3.9g of dietary fibre. It should be noted that they do have 4.6g of salt – which is pretty high!
Another option would be 3 chicken wings. The Lemon and Herb spiced wings contain 290 calories which is quite high considering the satiety that they’ll provide. They do pack a hefty 32g of protein, but this comes with 17.5g of fat. You could save a few calories by removing the skin.
The least diet friendly options are without a doubt the houmous with PERi-PERi drizzle and the PERi-PERi nuts.
The creamy houmous is accompanied with strips of warm pitta, and smoky PERi-PERi flavoured oil.
This small appetiser packs a staggering 800 calories, including over 30g of fat and almost 100g of carbohydrates!
You may also think that choosing the nuts would be a healthy options.
Unfortunately though, at 783 calories with 65g of dietary fat, this rich mix of almonds, cashews and macadamias are destined to throw you into a caloric surplus for the day.
At Nando’s, you have three main options when it comes to mains.
Firstly, you’ve got the PERi-PERi chicken dishes. Here, you can either opt for on the bone options like ½ chicken or wings. Or you could go for off the bone options like thighs or a chicken butterfly.
Next, you’ve got burgers, pittas and wraps.
Finally, you can choose from a good range of salads, which you’re able to add chicken breast or have on their own.
Regular Chicken Dishes
Arguably the most popular options at Nando’s are the regular chicken dishes, accompanied by 1 large or 2 regular sides.
I’m a simple guy with simple tastes, so this is usually what I’ll opt for when I eat at Nando’s
One thing you will notice about these dishes is that they tend to have quite high fat vs a regular chicken breast that you’d cook at home.
This is mainly because they have the skin-on. Chicken skin is high in dietary fat, which is why many popular diets (slimming world, weight watchers etc.) will recommend that you trim it from the meat.
The two options that I’d recommend to those dieting would be:
- ¼ Chicken Breast
- Chicken Butterfly
Both options are very high in protein (around 55g), have minimal carbohydrates and around 8-12g of fat per serving. This leaves you with plenty of room for sides.
If you’re lucky enough to diet on higher calories, then you could go for ½ chicken or the chicken thighs, however these each have around 600 calories and roughly 30g of fat.
I’d recommend staying away from the 10 Chicken Wings or Wing Roulette. These have over 950Kcals and 57g of fat.
Burgers, Pittas and Wraps
Believe it or not, this section is not out of bounds to dieters!
I would however recommend that if you do go for a burger, wrap or pitta, you hang-fire on the carb-heavy sides as these mains will already have a good amount of carbohydrates in them.
For those on lower-protein diets, the single grilled chicken burgers or pittas are an excellent choice.
These each contain around 400Kcals, 35g or protein (still very good), 40g of carbs and under 10g of fat.
The wraps tend to be higher in calories. This is twofold, firstly, the wraps themselves tend to be higher in carbs that the pittas and the Portuguese rolls that are used for the burgers.
Also, by default, the wraps contain a healthy serving of mayonnaise, whereas the burgers and pittas do not.
For those with higher protein requirements. The double chicken burgers and wraps are perfect. They contain the same amount of carbohydrates and fats as the single fillet options but pack a massive 60g of protein!
The butterfly burger is also an excellent choice for those looking for a large protein hit. With 65g of protein and around 550Kcals, this will be a viable choice for many dieters.
At 30g of fat and 621Kcals, the Sunset Burger is slightly less diet friendly. This is largely due to the cheese and chutney that come with it. On calories alone, it is still a viable alternative to the ½ chicken or thighs.
As you can see from above, just because you’re dieting it doesn’t mean you have to go straight for the salad section at Nando’s.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of people who will happily choose a salad over the other options available. If you are one of the those people then rest-assured Nando’s has got you covered!
All nutritional data based is based on salads that are accompanied by the grilled chicken breast.
I’ve done this simply because they tend to be low on protein without it, and whilst not every dieter needs to eat substantial amounts of protein, it does have several benefits including lean-muscle retention, satiety and aiding recovery.
When it comes to the salads, there really isn’t a bad option.
The mixed leaf salad is a very light option. With only 156 calories and 30g of protein this is the lowest calorie dish on the menu. Great for someone who is just looking for a light snack, but probably not great for anyone with a big appetite!
The Caesar Salad is the highest calorie salad with 420 calories and 25g of fat, however this is still a fantastic option and super tasty too!
Often the most cost-effective option at Nando’s is to accompany your main with 1 or 2 regular sides.
For example, a chicken butterfly on its own is £8.25, however for an extra £3.50 you can get 2 regular sides. Not bad eh?
Unfortunately, choosing the wrong sides can quickly turn a diet-friendly meal into a dieting disaster!
There are two types of side dishes at Nando’s. You’ve got regular sides and fino sides.
Nowadays, there are 12 regular sides to choose from. These come in two sizes – regular and large. All nutritional information mentioned below will be based on the regular sized sides.
Arguably the most popular side dish at Nando’s is their chips. Unfortunately though, these are not a dieter’s best friend. At 465 calories and almost 19g of fat, these are one that I’d stay away from when attempting to lose body fat.
The garlic-bread is also a popular choice, but not one I’d recommend to those who are dieting. With 349 calories and over 16g of fat, this is not a great choice.
Many dieters may be tempted to go for the coleslaw but with almost 263 calories and 24g of fat, you’ll certainly be able to find better options.
Despite all of this, there are several diet friendly sides available. Here are some that I’d recommend:
- Grains ‘n’ Green– 187 Calories (8.4g Protein, 22.4g Carbohydrates, 7.5g Fat, 5.9g Fibre)
- Spicy Rice – 246 Calories (3.8 Protein, 42.2g Carbohydrates, 6g Fat, 3.9g Fibre)
- Corn on the Cob – 144 Calories (5.7g Protein, 22g Carbohydrates, 2.7g Fat, 4.6g Fibre)
- Macho Peas – 141 Calories (7.7g Protein, 17.5g Carbohydrates, 6.4g of Fat, 8.5g Fibre)
- Saucy Spinach – 98 Calories (4.8g Protein, 7.7g Carbohydrates, 4.5g Fat, 4.4g Fibre)
- Long Stem Broccoli – 24 Calories (2.8g Protein, 2.4g Carbohydrates, 0.4g Fat, 2.4g Fibre)
- Mixed Leaf Salad – 13 Calories (Very little of everything!)
Fino sides are a relatively new addition to the Nando’s menu. There are just 3 options in total to choose from. They come in just one size and cost £3.45 each.
Here is the caloric and macronutrient breakdown for each of them:
- Chargrilled Veg: 93 Calories (2.4g Protein, 14.2g Carbohydrates, 3.5g Fat, 3.5g Fibre)
- Sweet Potato Mash: 97 Calories (2.2g Protein, 19.8g Carbohydrates, 0.2g Fat, 4.4g Fibre)
- Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato: 168 Calories (4.5g Protein, 23.7g Carbohydrates, 5.3g Fat, 3.8g Fibre)
As you can see, each of these options are low in calories. So take your pick!
Putting it all together
As you can see, there are literally hundreds of diet friendly combinations that to choose from when you eat at Nando’s.
To make things a bit easier, I’m going to create meal templates based on several popular dieting methods.
Low Fat Nandos
If your diet is based around limiting the intake of dietary fat, here is one of the best options for you:
- Grilled Chicken Burger – Lemon and Herb
- Spicy Rice
- Long-stem Broccoli
- Coke Zero (Unlimited Refills)
- Calories: 678
- Protein: 43.2g
- Carbohydrates: 89.6g
- Fat: 13.4g
At 678 calories, this is by no means a ‘light’ meal. Depending on your daily caloric goals, you may need to lower your calories around this meal to fit it in. Nonetheless, at just 13g of fat, it should be very easy to work into your plan. For just £12.75, it’s unlikely to break the bank either!
Low Carb Nandos
If your diet is based around restricting carbohydrates, here is one of the best options for you:
- Chicken Butterfly – Lemon & Herb
- Saucy Spinach
- Long-Stem Broccoli (£11.75)
- Grilled Halloumi Cheese (£1.50)
- Coke Zero (Unlimited Refills) (£2.80)
- Calories – 641
- Protein – 78.9g
- Carbohydrates – 11.9g
- Fat – 28.7g
Once again, this is not a light meal. However, with almost 80g of protein and less than 12g of carbs, it’s going to be extremely filling. Importantly, it’s also going to be very easy to fit into your low-carb diet.
Low Calorie Nandos
If your diet is simply based around restricting caloric intake, then here is a good option for you:
- Caesar Salad with Chicken Breast (Medium)
- Coke Zero
- Calories: 440
- Protein: 35.4g
- Carbohydrates: 13.8g
- Fat: 26.9g
Not only is this salad high in protein, it’s also a rich source of healthy fats and packed full of micronutrients. With less than 10 grams of carbohydrates (5.4 of which is dietary fibre), this would also be an excellent choice for those adhering to a low carb diet.
Nando’s on Keto
The ketogenic (or keto diet for short) is one that has gained significant popularity over the last few years, largely thanks to its exposure on prevalent modern media platforms.
I’ve had several questions surrounding whether Nando’s is OK to eat on the Keto diet, so I’ve finally got round to addressing them!
The keto diet is frequently mistaken for a simple low carb diet however this isn’t the case. The keto diet is in-fact a high fat, very-low carb diet.
The premise behind the keto diet is that drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state your body becomes efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver which can supply energy for the brain – this is the reason many report greater levels of alertness and cognitive function whilst in ketosis.
There are several variations of the keto diet, however for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the standard variation which dictates that 75% of your daily calories come from fat, 20% from protein and 5% or less comes from carbs.
For someone looking to eat 2,000 calories a day, this would look like:
Fat: 167g (1,500 Kcals)
Protein: 100g (400 Kcals)
Carbs: 25g (100 Kcals)
Typically, fatty cuts of red meat, fish and whole eggs are go-to protein sources for those on the keto diet, however chicken is not out of the question, making Nando’s a viable choice.
As always on the keto diet, it’s important to be wary of trace carbohydrates in sauces, rubs and seasonings. Fortunately, Nando’s provides full nutritional information courtesy of their website, they’ll often provide any sauces or dressings separately if requested.
If you’re looking for a keto-friendly appetiser, then your best bet is the Spicy Mixed Olives. With just 4.7g of carbs and 13.5g of fat, they’re the perfect fire-starter to tide you over.
When it comes to mains, you’ve got no shortage of options. Any on-the-bone dishes are viable and the best choice for you will be largely dependent on your protein targets and your caloric and macronutrient intake on that day.
If you’re looking for something with lower protein, then you could opt for:
- ¼ Chicken Leg – 28.5g Protein / 0.5g Carbohydrates / 16.5g Fat
- 3 Chicken Wings – 31.9g Protein / 0.5g Carbohydrates / 13.9g Fat
For those looking for a higher protein hit, then you could go for:
- ½ Chicken Breast – 51.5g Protein / 0.4g Carbohydrates / 14.9g Fat
- 5 Chicken Wings – 53.2g Protein / 0.6g Carbohydrates / 21.8g Fat
- Chicken Thighs – 70.1g Protein / 0.4g Carbohydrates / 32.5g Fat
You could also add some PERi-PERi Drizzle (chilli oil) to your chicken for an additional 10.3g of fat.
The sides at Nando’s tend to be high in carbs, however there is a few keto-friendly sides to accompany your main:
- Regular Coleslaw – 1.3g Protein / 11.4g Carbohydrates / 23.7g Fat
- Large Mixed Leaf Salad – 1.7g Protein / 2.9g Carbohydrates / 0.4g Fat
- Large Long-Stem Broccoli – 5.6g Protein / 4.8g Carbohydrates / 0.9g Fat
Finally, you could add some extras to your meal:
- ½ Avocado – 1.4g Protein / 1.6g Carbohydrates / 17g Fat
- Grilled Halloumi – 11.9g Protein /1.3g Carbohydrates / 12.9g Fat
- Portobello Mushroom – 1.2g Protein / 0.3g Carbohydrates / 11g Fat
As you can see, Nando’s is a fantastic option for those looking to eat-out whilst on the keto diet. What’s your favourite keto-friendly Nando’s dish? Let me know in the comments!
As you can see, Nando’s offers a wealth of options for those who are dieting, regardless of dieting methodology.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Nando’s is one of the most diet friendly restaurant chains in the UK.
If you like this style of article, let me know in the comments section down below. Also, what restaurant chain would you like me to focus on next?
I look forward to hearing from you.