Why Does Your Chicken Salad Stop Weight Loss?

I have multiple patients that come to my office that we follow and treat for weight loss and metabolic syndrome.  They are discouraged that their weight loss has stopped or is very, very slow.  The most frequent problem I find when they bring in their food journals is the “healthy chicken salad.”

“What?! But, Doc, Chicken Salad is healthy?! RIGHT?”

The chicken salad shows up on their journal almost daily.  Somehow, we’ve been indoctrinated that the chicken salad is good for us.  I want you to look closely at the image that was recently shared on the internet below.  How is the nutrient value of your chicken salad any different than the Big Mac?

Burger Salad Comperison

Why is this unhealthy?  The carbohydrate content greater than 20-30 grams will cause a spike in insulin.  When insulin spikes, the body is told to store fat (and it will store fat for up to 12 hours) . . . Yes, the 24 grams of fat in the salad now become dangerous in the presence of an insulin spike.  In my patients with metabolic syndrome, they will produce between two and ten times the insulin and store two to ten times the fat. (Ten Big Macs would have tasted better . . . )

There is actually more carbohydrate in your salad than in the big mac.  Why not add a strawberry shake just to finish putting the nail in the coffin?  And we wonder why we are having trouble with weight loss?

Those 43 carbohydrates spike your insulin, halt ketosis and slow weight loss for up to 48 hours.

Please, if you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, get rid of the chicken salad.

17 Comments on “Why Does Your Chicken Salad Stop Weight Loss?

  1. If I were to make a chicken salad at home, use mayonnaise, celery, cucumbers, and varied lettuces (including red lettuce types), would that be a better way of eating chicken salad?

    • Good question, Bonita. The goal is to get your total fat intake up to 50% of the meal if possible. Adding mayonnaise, cheese or other fat containing food (like pork, ham or beef instead of chicken) would work great.

    • Joan, I can see where this may be confusing if you ascribe to the caloric theory of weight gain. However, we don’t gain weight because of calorie balance. We gain weight because of hormone stimulus. A diet high in protein and carbohydrate drive the storage of fat because of the body’s hormone stimulus to the actual macro-nutrients.

      • So how to make a chicken salad that doesn’t spike your insulin, is the question.

        And here is how to do it at home! (rounding to near digit)

        1 cup romaine lettuce – 2 grams total carb, 0% fat, 0% protein
        1 cup mixed greens (like arugula, mache, etc) – 3g total carb, 0% fat, 0% protein
        3 oz. baked chicken thigh with skin on – 0g carb, 58% fat, 42% protein
        1/2 cup slices cucumber – 2g total carbs, 0% fat, 0% protein
        1 slice tomato – 1g total carbs, 0% fat, 0% protein
        2 tablespoons olive oil – 0 total carbs, 100% fat, 0% protein
        1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar – 1 total carbs, 0% fat, 0% protein

        410 calories, 9 total carb, 65% fat overall. The hormonal consequences of this salad will be much different than the store-bought above. It also happens to have fewer calories, btw.

  2. I also add a slice or two of bacon sautéed in butter then cook chicken thigh in the bacon fat and place on salad fat and all then top with some grated Parmesan cheese.

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  4. I’m confused because web girls recipe is what i think of as a chicken salad. SO what is in other chicken salads that have carbs? Obviously an low fat sweet dressing could be, but if you are avoiding that, what else do you need to avoid?

    • In this case, I’m referring to a chicken salad you buy at the restaurant or take to work that consists of lettuce, chicken and dressing. It’s not the carbs, it’s the lack of fat that forces your body to convert the protein into fuel causing a spike in insulin and the other hormone cascade that pushes a person out of ketosis.

    • I think what you are defining as Chicken Salad is not what I am referring to. I am referring to a chicken Cesar salad or a leafy green salad with grilled chicken. I am not referring to the blended chicken and mayonnaise mixture often found in the deli.

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  8. You have a great deal of good information to share on your site. However, the article title is click bait. All you need to do is suggest that people remove the carbs from the salad and add a bit more fat. And there you go. Chicken salad is not making people fat. The carbs added to the salad is making people fat. Very simple, but the way you’ve expressed this is confusing, unless you already understand the keto way of eating. I suggest refraining from creating articles that can be considered click bait for the sake of the integrity of your website, the keto lifestyle and you as a professional.

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