Optimize Your Olive Garden Menu Selections for Healthy Weight Loss

Olive Garden may not come to mind when considering weight loss-friendly restaurants. However, you might be surprised to learn that you can still enjoy this popular restaurant while staying on track with your weight-loss goals. But what exactly is the best Olive Garden order for weight loss? To find out, we consulted Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who weighs in (pun intended) with her #1 favorite Olive Garden order for weight loss.

“Olive Garden’s menu can be challenging to navigate when trying to eat a healthy diet,” says Moody. “Avoid any entrée or side dish containing calorie-dense, cream-based sauces. Alfredo sauce, in particular, is made with heavy cream and butter, which means it carries a lot of calories and saturated fat, the latter of which is not great for your heart health or waistline.”

Fortunately, Olive Garden offers several options that can fit into a balanced, calorie-conscious meal plan. By focusing on dishes that emphasize lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains, you can enjoy a meal that’s both delicious and fits within your weight-loss efforts. The trick is to be mindful of portion sizes and know what ingredients are included in your meals.

The Herb-Grilled Salmon is the #1 best Olive Garden order for weight loss—here’s why.

Per serving: 610 calories, 45 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,360 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 45 g protein

Curious about what the best dish for weight loss is at the Olive Garden? According to Moody, it’s the Herb-Grilled Salmon.

“Clocking in at only 610 calories total and served with a side of steamed broccoli, this is one of the few dishes on the menu that’s light and isn’t swimming in a cream-based sauce,” says Moody. “For sides, go with the salad and a vinaigrette or the minestrone soup. The other soups are either made with sausage or have a base made from heavy creams.”

The benefits of eating Herb-Grilled Salmon for weight loss:

Olive garden herb grilled salmon

1. It’s a well-balanced meal.

Olive Garden’s Herb-Grilled Salmon delivers a balanced meal, offering a mix of lean protein, healthy carbs, and veggies containing essential vitamins and minerals for good health.

“Unlike heavier dishes like lasagna, the Herb-Grilled Salmon is a balanced meal. Due to being served automatically with breadsticks, it contains carbs, protein from the salmon, and vegetables in the form of garlic parmesan broccoli,” says Moody.

This nutrient combo helps ensure you consume an array of nutrients in a single dish, helping you maintain a well-rounded diet while managing your weight.

2. It’s an excellent source of lean protein.

Salmon is a great source of lean protein, which is crucial for muscle maintenance and satiety. Unlike high-fat meats such as sausage or beef, salmon contains heart and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and very little saturated fat. This makes it a healthier protein choice that supports your weight-loss efforts while providing the necessary nutrients your body needs.

“While salmon is relatively low in saturated fat, it still has that fatty mouthfeel people crave in red meats,” says Moody. “That’s because salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient that the body cannot make on its own but is critical for optimal heart and brain health. It’s recommended that American adults consume two servings of fatty fish a week to get enough of these anti-inflammatory, healthy fats.”

3. It’s low in calories.

“The Herb-Grilled Salmon contains half the calories as most other dishes, which makes it a suitable option for those who want to enjoy a night out with friends but don’t want to blow their calorie goals in a single meal,” says Moody. “This dish also lacks copious amounts of pasta like other Olive Garden menu items but still fills the plate with lean protein from the fish and fiber from broccoli. This can be more filling as carbs tend to break down quickly in the stomach, but it won’t make you feel as heavy. This means you can hang with your friend group for the rest of the evening rather than rushing home to take a nap.”

The next time you visit the Olive Garden, choosing a lower-calorie option like the Herb-Grilled Salmon can help you stay within your daily calorie goals, making it easier to lose weight without sacrificing an enjoyable dining experience.

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