Order This, Not That: Red Lobster

Find out what to order and what to avoid when dining at Red Lobster.

This chain has been around for as long as I can remember, and it’s still frequented by loyal customers. Find out what you should be ordering the next time you hit up your local Red Lobster.

Appetizers
Order: Signature Shrimp Cocktail (pictured at top)

Shrimp is a very lean protein, and it is pretty low in calories too. It’s a great way to add protein to your diet without saturating it with fat and calories. The sodium is undoubtedly high in this dish, but if you cut back on the sauce, you can cut out much of the sodium.

Per dish: Calories 130; Fat 0 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 1,070 mg; Carbohydrate 11 g; Protein 21 g

Not: Crispy Calamari and Vegetables

Although you will be getting in some veggies, such as broccoli and red peppers, this fried calamari dish served with tangy marinara and ranch dressing for dunking contains close to the recommended amount of daily calories. Even if you split it with someone, it’s more than 900 calories and an entire day’s worth of sodium per person before the entree even arrives.

Per dish: Calories 1,830; Fat 127 g (Saturated 15 g); Sodium 4,720 mg; Carbohydrate 138 g; Protein 36 g

Main Entree
Order: Broiled Wild Caught Flounder Dinner

This flakey white fish is broiled and served with a choice of a side vegetable off the menu. It’s a great way to take in your recommended weekly serving of fish without consuming too many calories. Make sure, however, to order a side vegetable that isn’t drowning in fat or calories.

Per dish: Calories 430; Fat 9 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 720 mg; Carbohydrate 8 g; Protein 73 g

Not: Bar Harbor Lobster Bake

This bad boy is named after a town in Maine where lobster bakes are a way of life. It contains a combo of lobster tail with shrimp, sea scallops, mussels and tomatoes that's piled over linguini in a garlic and white wine broth. This dish contains 172 percent of the recommended amount of daily fat, 200 percent of the recommended amount of saturated fat and 159 percent of the recommended amount of sodium.

Per dish: Calories 1,850; Fat 112 g (Saturated 40 g); Sodium 3,810 mg; Carbohydrate 115 g; Protein 90 g

Sides
Order: Fresh Broccoli

This simple side is your best bet, as it contains only 40 calories per serving. Broccoli is also packed with vitamins C and K and lots of phytochemicals to help fight and prevent disease.

Per dish: Calories 40; Fat 0 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 35 mg; Carbohydrate 8 g; Protein 3 g

Not: Creamy Langostino Lobster Baked Potato

You might think that because this potato is baked it’s the healthier choice. The "creamy" factor, however, jacks the calories up more than necessary. You’re better off with a traditional baked potato for 180 fewer calories.

Per dish: Calories 390; Fat 17 g (Saturated 5 g); Sodium 1,170 mg; Carbohydrate 48 g; Protein 13 g

Dessert
Order: Key Lime Pie

Split this treat with a friend, or take half home for later. Of all the sweet treats, it contains the fewest calories.

Per dish: Calories 430; Fat 19 g (Saturated 11 g); Sodium 280 mg; Carbohydrate 64 g; Protein 9 g

Not: Chocolate Wave

This sweet treat is a warm, decadent chocolate cake with creamy fudge frosting, topped with vanilla ice cream and rich chocolate sauce. If you eat the entire dessert on your own, you’ll be downing more than 50 percent of the recommended amount of daily calories and more than 100 percent of the daily maximum for saturated fat.

Per dish: Calories 1,100; Fat 62 g (Saturated 21 g); Sodium 730 mg; Carbohydrate 133 g; Protein 21 g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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