How to eat healthy at Nando's without ruining your diet
Although it's only a recent arrival on Irish shores, Nando's has won its way into our hearts. Literally and metaphorically.
But can you actually enjoy the place if you're on a diet or watching your weight?
Well, we've created a Nando's Ultimate Clean Eating Guide: stick to these golden rules and ideal menu options to keep your summer shred plan intact.
Go for the bottomless water...
Before you get cracking ordering your Nando's, grab yourself a drink. Don't be tempted by the bottomless fizzy drinks - you might as well sack off your diet completely and just down a bowl of actual sugar.
Soda doesn't actually hydrate your body at all, but it will leave you craving more sugar - and that's a slippery diet slope you don't want to be on.
Help yourself to the water. Sling some of that nice crushed ice they do too - it's all free. Water improves your skin, your brain function and it won't make you fat; in fact drinking a pint of water before a meal actually helps you lose weight, research suggests.
Which starters to pick...
If you're feeling particularly cheeky, you might fancy a starter. There's definitely a few items on the menu that we'd avoid if you're trying to stay lean.
While the Houmous with Peri Peri drizzle might sound delicious - and we're damn sure it probably is - it's got nearly 94g of carbs in there. It's a definite macros-buster. Some people will bloat up like a balloon on bread, so you might want to give the garlic bread a miss too.
If you're looking for a good bit of protein you can't go wrong with 3 Chicken Drumsticks (plain). They've got a whopping 37g of protein and just 10g of fat in them.
Research shows that eating protein before you get any carbs will keep your blood sugar more stable, slow down carb absorption, and therefore help maintain your weight better.
If you want to mix it up, we'd go for the Spicy Mixed Olives. No carbs but full of good fat - the mono-unsaturated variety which are great for weight loss - breaking down fat inside fat cells, helping tackle belly fat and lowering insulin insensitivity.
These are the cleanest chicken choices at Nando's...
You're in chicken heaven - so the instant reaction is to go way overboard like a crazed carnivore in a butcher's shop.
But if you're looking to keep the calories down and keeping your protein intake at optimum levels for protein synthesis, then don't get all giddy and order two whole chickens. That's 2,490 calories your body is going to take days to digest and burn off.
The Quarter Chicken Breast is looking like the best option for anyone on a diet that likes their poultry attached to a bone. The plain option has around 58g of protein and less than 8g of fat. There's even fewer carbs in there at 3.4g.
But for anyone who insists on their chicken boneless, the item you want to order is the Chicken Butterfly. Yes it's got 2g of extra fat, but it has the same amount of protein and less than 1g of carbs.
You can't get much cleaner than that at Nando's - unless you're just on water and salad leaves.
But beware the marinades...
Nandos is a barbecue chicken joint that has made its name from bringing us beautiful Peri Peri. So you're obviously going to want some of that sweet marinade slathered all over your chicken. The spicier the better.
But before you go charging in and get your drumsticks dipped in hellfire-inducing Extra Spicy marinade, check out the calories.
Whereas plain drumsticks contain 324 calories, the medium marinaded has 345 calories - and the top whack spice level has 403 calories.
But if you want something a little sexier than plain wings of drumsticks, then the next best option calorie-wise appears to be going for the Lemon and Herb dressing, which only adds an extra nine calories to your meal.
We don't really need to tell you about the sauces, do we?
Watch out for the extra fat too...
Not all chicken is created equally. You have your leaner options, which are every dieter's best friend. Then you have the fattier bit, which won't do your stomach too much good.
Where chicken is concerned, the fattiest choices appeared to be the Half Chicken (26.9g), the Chicken Thighs (30.6g), the Wing Roulette (37.5g), and obviously the Whole Chicken (53.7g).
The leanest options were the Quarter Chicken Breast (7.2g), the Chicken Butterfly (8.9g), and the Grilled Chicken in Pitta (4.5g).
The salads are looking good...
Newsflash: Salads are healthy for you. Who knew?! There's some decent looking salads on offer at Nando's, and depending on whether you're looking to keep the calories down or refuel after a workout, there's different ones to go for.
The Mediterranean, Quinoa and Caesar salads all have a fair amount of fat in them, at over 21g each. Although the 382-calorie Quinoa salad looks a good bet if you're not counting the cals too much.
It contains high-protein, low GI grain Quinoa, low GI sweet potato (both good carbs), and even some avocado which is a good source of natural fat.
But the king of salads if you're trying to stay lean has to be the Mixed Leaf Salad. It might not set your taste buds ablaze with pleasure, but you're not going to be piling on any pounds with this 26-calorie offering.
Where diet is concerned, simple is best, and this plate of greens contains five different leaves and tomatoes. Easy.
Which burger shall I choose...
If you're not completely obsessed with straight chicken, then you might fancy a crack at one of the Nando's burgers - which also come in pitta and wrap form.
If you're counting carbs, then you're best dodging the wrap every time and ordering the pitta or burger instead.
If you've just finished a workout, then you'll probably want some carbs in your system anyway.
Go for the Grilled Chicken Burger (Protein 35g/Carbs 41.5g/ Fat 6.2g) or the Double Chicken (Protein 63g/ Carbs 41.2g/ Fat 8g). No messing.
If you're after something containing steak (it's great for boosting natural, muscle-building testosterone in your body), then go for the Fillet Steak Prego (Protein 35g/ Carbs 40g/ Fat 10g).
The best sides dishes to order...
You can't have Christmas dinner without all the trimmings, and so it goes, you can't just have Nando's without a few cheeky sides.
But it's a minefield out there with all those innocuous-looking accoutrements on the menu. Hell, even the chips looks healthy.
But if you polish off a large bowl of their famous PERI-Salted Chips (Protein 19.7g/ Carbs 205.8g/ Fat 53.4g), you won't be seeing your abs again for a while.
Instead we'd order Corn on the Cob (Protein 5.7g / Carbs 22g/ Fat 2.7g), maybe some of those Macho Peas (Protein6.6g/ Carbs 9.8g/ Fat 10.4g), or resign ourselves to the fact that it's better if we ignore everyone enjoying their chips and just get the 26-calorie Mixed Salad.
If you've just had pay day, your accumulator came in, or you're generally just a Fancy Dan, there are some good Fino Sides you can order.
Forget everything else and order the Chargrilled Vegetables (Protein 2.2g/ Carbs 11.4g/ Fat 5.3g), and the 75-calorie Fino Coleslaw (Protein 1.6g/ Carbs 4.5g/ Fat 4.5g).
(Okay, okay, if you've come straight from a weights session at the gym, maybe get some Sweet Potato Mash for those good carbs).
You can forget these. Summer's coming mate. Even the Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt has nearly half your daily recommended amount of sugar at 15g - and before you know it you will be rampaging through the chocolate drawer at home at 3am.
Why not be a good lad and just bring an apple along? Your mates will probably take the p*ss, but they won't be laughing when that shirt comes off in Ibiza.
This is the ultimate clean meal to order...
It just wouldn't be the Ultimate Nandos Clean Eating guide without giving you our recommendation for the cleanest meal to order on the menu.
If you're following a strict macronutrient diet program, then you're probably going to have to go off your macro numbers.
But for everyone else who just wants to eat clean and get a healthy(ish) meal, then you should probably order this:
Starter: Spicy Mixed Olives - Calories - 138 - (Protein 1.2g /Carbs 0.8g /Fat 13.5g)
Main: Chicken Butterfly - Calories - 310 - (Protein 57.2 /Carbs 8.9g /Fat 0.2g)
Side: Mixed Salad - Calories 26 - (Protein 1.9g/Carbs 3.2g/Fat 0.4g)
Dessert: Not a chance
MACRO TOTAL: Calories 474 - (Protein 60.3g/ Carbs 12.9g/ Fat 14.1g)