February 6, 2008

Restaurant Review: KnowFat Lifestyle Grille

Today was a fairly successful day as far as diet and exercise go. I dragged myself out of bed at 6 in order to work out before work, and actually got 20 minutes of arms resistance in. For breakfast, I splurged calorie-wise on some oat bran French toast from room service (but at least it was on the Hilton Eat Right menu, so it wasn’t terrible). It was great, but because it was just a bit higher than I wanted for breakfast, it meant that I couldn’t splurge for lunch.

Now, I know it’s not great to eat fast food. Unfortunately, for lunch in consulting, you really don’t get much choice. I’d say I take an actual break for lunch maybe once a month or so – usually you just get your food and bring it to your desk and eat it while you keep working, so when you’re traveling and can’t bring your own lunch, fast food is the only real option. Finding healthy fast food can be a bit of a challenge, but for lunch, the team hit up the KnowFat Lifestyle Grille.

My client is literally across the street from my friend Adam’s apartment, and the KnowFat is next to my client’s office, so I’ve seen it many times. However, until today I had never gone to it. I checked out the nutrition facts on their website, and it was decently healthy. Definitely a lot healthier than regular fast food, but still not quite as great as what I’d make at home. Still, when you don’t have a kitchen, you look for the healthiest fare you can find, even if it’s not that great. My team likes the KnowFat (though as I found out later, it’s for completely stupid reasons), so we headed downstairs and through the parking garage to check it out.

The restaurant has some pretty great nutritional claims: “Knowledge is power and we want you to know what goes into your body. Nutritional information for each menu item – including calories, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, and protein grams – is accurate, accessible and clearly listed on the menu and on your receipt.” Actually, it wasn’t on the menu and I later discovered it wasn’t on my receipt either. However, like a good little dieter, I had picked out what I wanted before I got to the restaurant, and knew I would be eating 513 calories.

So what did I get for 513 calories?

  • Grilled All Natural Free Range Bison Burger (patty only, 130 cals)
  • Steamed Broccoli (28 cals)
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes (172 cals)
  • All White Meat Chicken Chili – Cup (183 cals)

Not too shabby – it was a ton of food! The bison burger I was pretty excited about, because I’d never had bison before but was always meaning to try it. Unfortunately, it was pretty bland – basically what you’d expect a 130 calorie hamburger patty to taste like. The steamed broccoli was fine – I mean, there’s not much you can do with that. The mashed sweet potatoes were good, and the chicken chili was pretty good (even though it was basically just regular bean chili with some chicken chunks thrown in). I definitely left feeling very full, but overall the flavors weren’t really anything special or anything I’d go back for. All in all, a bit of a disappointment.

Looking at what my coworkers got, I really had to laugh. They all thought they were eating so healthy there, but having looked at the nutritional information, I knew that they were all eating 800-900 calories. One of them even commented on how he couldn’t believe the fries were nonfat, until I pointed out that the name of the restaurant was KnowFat, not NoFat, and that according to the website, a side of fries is 275 calories and has 9g fat. You might still think that’s a bargain compared to McDonalds, but the serving size of the fries that my coworkers each got was probably about half the size of a McDonalds small fry – there were very few fries on the plate. That made me very suspicious – are the fries really any healthier, or do they just serve fewer of them to lower the calorie count? That’s as shady as seemingly individual sized snack packs that upon closer inspection are actually supposed to be 2-3 servings.

Overall, I just wasn’t that impressed with the KnowFat. There are some healthier things on the menu, but there are a few healthy things on the menu at any restaurant. Their chief marketing gimmick is how healthy they are, but to me, they really don’t seem that healthy, and that makes me distrust the whole business. It seems like they’re trying to scam people into thinking everything they sell is healthy, when that’s really not the case – the whole halo effect. Well, I’m not falling for it!

2/5 stars: would go there again if others wanted to, but wouldn’t pick it on my own.


5 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: KnowFat Lifestyle Grille”

  1. Making healthy choices when dining out can seem like an overwhelming venture! Thankfully, HEALTHY DINING’S new online resource makes it easy! Just log on to the free site HealthyDiningFinder.com to find HEALTHY DINING choices — and corresponding nutrition information — at over 50,000 restaurant locations (including KnowFat!), ranging from fast food to upscale dining. You can “search” for participating restaurants by specifying zip code or location information and desired price range. The site also offers free e-newsletters, recipes, nutrition tips and more.

    HEALTHY DINING’s expert staff of registered dietitians and master’s level health/nutrition professionals consult with each participating restaurant to find and/ modify menu items that meet the following nutrition criteria: EntrĂ©es (or full meals) must include at least one of the following: lean protein (skinless white meat poultry, fish/seafood (including salmon), tofu, etc.), fruits and/or vegetables and/or 100% whole grains. Entrees must also be 750 calories or less, have 25 grams of fat or less, and contain no more than 8 grams of saturated fat. Bon appĂ©tit!

    Healthy Regards,
    Andrea Ogden, R.D.

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