Energy Kitchen recently opened its first location in DC, bringing its everything-under-500-calories menu to health-conscious Washingtonians. But although the chain is touted for its low-calorie meals, does that mean everything is healthy?
Registered dietitian Tanya Halliday scoped out the menu and, for the most part, liked what she saw. “Since our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs, the portion-controlled options at Energy Kitchen can certainly help us avoid eating more than we need,” she says.
But she notes one oddity: Energy Kitchen’s calorie counts on the main menu don’t match up with the nutrition information sheet.* “This sets off a bit of a red flag in my mind regarding how accurate their nutrition information is,” Halliday says. (For consistency’s sake, the following calorie counts are based off the nutrition menu.)
Worst: Bison Cheesesteak Wrap
Not only does this wrap contain 21 grams of fat, it also has almost half of the recommended daily sodium limit. The 49 grams of protein is nice, but it’s better to consume moderate portions of it throughout the day than in one sitting, Halliday says.
Better: Mediterranean Salad
At just 261 calories, this salad leaves room for a side or milkshake, too. But Halliday gives this a lower grade since the fat and sodium content is higher than other salads on the menu.
Best: Turkey or Chicken burgers
Who said burgers couldn’t be nutritious? Halliday says these two options are lower in total calories and fat than other burger varieties, and both come in at under 700 milligrams of sodium. Add a side to round out the meal guilt-free.
Expert’s Pick: Veggie Burger With Black Bean Salsa and Mango Iced Tea
Halliday, who is a vegetarian, says it’s important to be wary of the “health halo effect”: Just because the meal is touted as healthy doesn’t mean you can fill up the rest of your plate with multiple sides. Her ideal meal at Energy Kitchen rounds out to 541 calories, 26 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, and 20 grams of fiber.
Editor's note: A spokesperson from Energy Kitchen explained that the nutritional information sheet is for their NYC menu. They are working on posting DC-specific nutritional information in the near future.