A healthy meal at Tim Hortons…really?
As a follow-up to our article entitled « Are there healthy choices at McDonald’s », we decided to analyse the nutritional values of foods from another very popular fast food chain : Tim Hortons. Here are the results of our test. They may help you make an enlightened choice.
Let me start by saying that, whatever choice you make at Tim Hortons, it will not be as nutritional and as complete as a home-cooked meal : these quick meals are generally lacking in fruit and vegetable portions, the sodium and fat contents are higher than we would like them to be, and the protein content often leaves much to be desired. That being said, in a pinch, some options are better than others.
Here are the best ones :
In the sandwich category, only the BLT sandwich is interesting because of its adequate protein content and its moderate sodium levels. However, its dietary fiber content is low : if possible, ask for it on whole grain bread! All the other sandwich options scored above the 1000 mg of sodium (with the exception of the Chicken Salad Croissant, which has too much fat).
Other than the sandwich, it is possible to combine certain Tim Hortons items with something for home in order to make it a complete meal. For example, a 12 grain bagel with light cream cheese or peanut butter can be accompanied by cut vegetables or a vegetable soup from home.
Those who are looking for a snack or a light breakfast, the Greek Yogurt Parfait is relatively complete and nourishing. Low in sodium and fat, it may simply need a fresh fruit in order to supply you with several hours of food energy. You should also consider the Greek Yogurt Parfait as a post-workout snack : It supplies the sufficient amounts of required carbs and proteins for an effective post-workout recovery!
Always favour the non sweetened drinks, like black tea or coffee to which you can add a controlled amount of sugar and milk if you wish. In comparison, even the smallest size of sweetened drinks (hot chocolate, French Vanilla or Mocha Coffee), contain a minimum of 200 calories!
You simply can’t let go of your French Vanilla and you can’t possibly drink regular coffee? Ask for a half or even a third portion of your favourite flavoured coffee and have them top it off wih regular coffee. Your taste buds will gradually become accustomed to less sugar, at which point you’ll be able to switch to regular coffee! For other helpful hints and tips, view this article on the Nautilus Plus blog.
What about those iced or frozen drinks? You may be surprised to learn that Tim Hortons Iced Coffee, if ordered with milk or with chocolate milk, is the one with the least amount of calories option in the lot, at approximately 75 calories for the small size. The Frozen Lemonade contains as many calories as the Tim’s Iced Coffee made with cream (that is to say, 120). The big loser though is the Creamy Chocolate Chill that comes in at a whopping 380 calories , 50 grams of sugar, 16 grams of fat…and that’s just for the small size. That’s more than the most decadent donut availabe at Tim’s!
The different varieties of pastries and donuts available at Tim’s are not all created equal. With regards to nutrition, here’s a quick overview of the most and least interesting ones.
The heavyweights (16 grams of fat or more per portion) : The Honey Curler (roussette), the Sour Cream Donut (with or without glaze), the Chocolate Chip Muffin, the Peanut Butter Cookie, the Peanut Butter-filled Double Chocolate Cookie, are all options to be avoided.
The middleweights (the options with less calories per portion) : Surprise! The category of sweets with the most calories is not that of the donut but raher that of the muffin! Coming in at a minimum of 340 calories per portion, the muffins are easily higher in calories that the donuts, whose calorie count varies between 200 and 300 calories.
On the other hand, it’s not only the calories that matter! Certain muffins, like their name says, are made with whole grains (Whole Grain Carrot Orange and the Whole Grain Pecan Banana Bread Muffin) and are the best sources of fiber in the entire menu.
The lightweights (between 190 and 210 calories per portion) : The Honey, Maple or Chocolate Glazed Donut, the Raspberry or Maple Filled Donut, the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. When you get a craving for something sweet, you shouldn’t feel guilty about choosing any one of these options.
The Timbits : you believe that a couple Timbits have less of an impact on your waistline than an entire donut? That may be true but, only if you eat just 4 of them or less! Rule of thumb, 4 Timbits are nutritionally equivalent to a complete donut of the same variety (with the exception of the Honey Curler (roussette) where you can actually have 5 to equate a complete one).
To find out more
Visit the Tim Hortons website in order to obtain the nutritional information used in the writing of this article.
What do you do to eat healthy at your favourite fast food place, and please let us know which chain of restaurants you would like us to analyse in our upcoming articles. We enjoy your comments so please keep them coming!