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  • Choosing a salad may not always be the virtuous option, as Business Insider South Africa discovered.
  • We compared the kilojoule count of salads at some of South Africa's favourite restaurants.
  • We found one salad at Mugg & Bean that had twice as many kilojoules as a McDonald's Big Mac.

Losing weight usually tops New Year's resolution lists.

For most people, this means counting kilojoules. Your body needs a certain amount of energy per day to function. If you consume a deficit to what your body needs, this should lead to weight loss.

Scientists at Oxford University have found that weight loss programmes that included kilojoule counting lead to an average of around 3.3 kg more weight loss than those that didn't.

How many kilojoules are allowed vary from person to person depending on your height, weight and age, but the average female should probably not consume more than 8,300 kilojoules and the average male around 10,400 per day. 

There are many kilojoule calculators and trackers available which can help you narrow down the numbers to achieve your personal weight loss goals. 

But what makes kilojoule counting in South Africa challenging is the lack of labelling on menus in-store. While many restaurants publish nutritional information online, having the kilojoule count on a menu could make all the difference when you have to choose between dishes. 

Business Insider South Africa looked at the nutritional content of supposedly diet-friendly meals from Kauai, Mugg & Bean, Spur, Nu, Nando’s and Steers and found that many punched way above the kilojoule count of a McDonald's Big Mac burger. 

Some of the most kilojoule heavy salads were from Mugg & Bean, Nu and Kauai.

Salad calorie vs Big Mac burger

While we are not advocating that it's healthier to eat a burger over a salad, it makes sense that if you want to reduce your kilojoule intake, you know what you are eating. 

Salad kilojoule count

Mugg & Bean's cobb salad comes in at almost twice the amount of kilojoules of a Big Mac burger from McDonald's. 

Mugg & Bean salads.
Big Mac - McDonalds

M&B's lowest kilojoule option is the Moroccan Butternut and Chickpea salad. 

Kauai and Nu also have some heavy salads. 

Nu Power House Salad
Kauai Plant Power salad

Adding salad dressing, balsamic vinegar or olive oil can also make a huge difference to your count. 

Spur Greek salad comparison.

The total kilojoule count of an "undressed" Spur Greek salad was below 1,400 kilojoules, compared to almost 3,000 if you add balsamic vinegar, Caesar salad dressing and virgin oil. 

The total kilojoule count of Spur Greek salads.

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