Panera Bread is pretty much everyone’s best friend. Hence, when dieting, you’d never want to stop visiting. The good news is, you don’t have to! There are a ton of amazing menu options at Panera for those who are looking to watch their calories and waistlines and slim down. In fact, we chatted with a registered dietitian who shares the best Panera soup and salad combo for weight loss.

The key to successful, long-term dieting is to make lifestyle changes that work best for you and not deprive yourself of fun foods. Panera Bread has many locations, making it very convenient for a pit stop, and their meals are seamless to order and enjoy. Panera is also an excellent spot to meet up with a friend. So let’s get to the menu and learn about some great soups and salads to add to your meal rotation while dieting.

The best Panera menu options for weight loss are the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken and Turkey Chili.

Panera bread fuji apple chicken salad
Panera Bread

“When it comes to Panera, there are so many great and yummy options to choose from,” says Lena Bakovic, MS, RDN, CNSC, from Top Nutrition Coaching. “Panera has a good selection of salads and soups which are nutrient dense and contain protein and fiber, both nutrients which are helpful with fullness/satiety, and work to prevent over-eating throughout the day and into the evening.”

Bakovic shares her top salad and soup options to order at Panera: the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken and Turkey Chili. She explains both are excellent choices for those who want to slim down or manage their weight because they’re chock-full of nutrients.

The 15 Healthiest Menu Items at Panera

“[These meals] are high in vitamin and mineral content, and they also contain good amounts of protein and fiber, which help to keep us feeling full for longer and prevent over-eating,” Bakovic explains.

Panera’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad will cost you 550 calories while providing a whopping 30 grams of protein and five grams of fiber. On the other hand, the Turkey Chili is filled to the brim with veggies such as kidney beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, and edamame. It also packs a mean protein punch of about 21 grams with its blend of dark-meat turkey (raised without antibiotics) and will only set you back around 300 calories.

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Tips when ordering at Panera for weight loss:

front of Panera on a green background
Photo: Shutterstock/Jonathan Weiss. Design: Eat This, Not That!

1. Look at the calorie counts.

It’s very easy to track your calories at Panera, as everything is right at your fingertips. Whether you want to review the nutrition facts and calorie counts in advance before heading to Panera or decide what you’re in the mood for when you arrive, the process is seamless.

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2. Avoid menu options that are high in fat.

The challenging part of visiting Panera is avoiding the decadent pastries and desserts. However, Bakovic stresses mindfulness of ingredients in whatever you order.

“There are several items on Panera’s menu that are high in fat, and specifically saturated fat content,” says Bakovic. “Saturated fat can raise ‘lousy,’ or LDL cholesterol, levels and is not an ideal choice within the context of heart health. Likewise, because fat is calorically-dense, the higher fat menu items are also high in calories, which can make it more challenging for an individual seeking a healthy caloric deficit to achieve weight loss in a sustainable way.”

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3. Ask for the dressing on the side.

Another tip from Bakovic? Always ask for your dressing on the side. This is a great habit to use regularly wherever you dine.

“[This can] help decrease the fat and sugar content of a salad,” Bakovic says. “That way, you can be in control of how much dressing you are adding to your salads.”

Alexa Mellardo

Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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