Here’s What Nutritionists Say About TikTok’s Favorite Summer Meal

TikTok has crowned a new “it” dinner of the summer — but is it really a balanced meal?

From the viral feta pasta to “girl dinner,” food trends constantly come and go on social media, and TikTok’s latest meal obsession is a dinner that consists of three components: Caesar salad, french fries, and a diet Coke.

Creators across the app have posted more than 60 million videos about this combination, dubbing it the perfect summer meal.


But while it’s certainly a tasty choice, nutritionists say its nutritional value is mixed. It provides some much needed benefits while also including some not-so-healthy components.

@brookekrueger7 #dietcoke #frenchfries #ceasersalad #willdiehappy ♬ America - Sage

The pros

“A Caesar salad, fries, and diet Coke sounds delicious, which is a plus!” Jennifer House, MSc, RD, founder of First Step Nutrition, tells Healthnews. “It's always important to enjoy your food.”

House says the pleasure an individual would likely experience from eating this meal is one of its main benefits, as enjoyment is always something to consider when selecting what you’re going to eat.

The meal also provides fat and carbohydrates, two essential micronutrients. While a traditional Caesar salad is lacking in protein, adding shrimp or grilled chicken to it would make it a fairly balanced meal, she says.

“Chicken Caesar salads traditionally consist of grilled chicken, lettuce, croutons, and caesar dressing, sometimes with the addition of anchovies,” says Kyle Crowley, MSc, a nutrition expert at Protein Works. “In terms of nutrition, overall, this meal contains everything you need — from protein in the chicken and parmesan, carbohydrates in the croutons, vitamins in lettuce, and omega-3 in anchovies.”

Crowley says the lean protein in chicken is beneficial, as it can help build stronger muscles and promote healthier bones. Parmesan is also rich in essential amino acids, making it an easy-to-digest protein.

@alisaleane The best combo @ughhjessica0 ♬ original sound - Pattimifatti

Croutons are usually made from toasted bread that is coated in oil before toasting. Bread is a carbohydrate that provides energy, Crowley says, and olive oil contains mono-unsaturated fats which can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Either romaine or iceberg lettuce is typically used as a base for Caesar salads. Both are high in vitamins C and A, which can help boost the immune system and reduce the risk of getting sick.

Often used in Caesar salad dressing or as a topping, anchovies are meanwhile rich in omega-3, an important fatty acid that promotes brain function.

The cons

French fries, on the other hand, aren’t exactly a healthy choice, and Crowley says fried and overly salty foods such as fries can have negative effects on the body if eaten in excess.

House adds that combined with fries and Caesar salad dressing, the meal has a decent amount of saturated fat, potentially exceeding the American Heart Association’s recommendation of a maximum of 13 grams of saturated fat per day.

Diet Coke also contains artificial sweeteners to keep it sugar-free and low in calories, and drinking it too often can cause damage to the body and even lead to an increased risk of diabetes, Crowley says.

If you’d like to make a healthier version of this meal, House suggests choosing a salad with an unsaturated oil and vinegar dressing or skipping the fries.

But when it comes to nutrition, both House and Crowley agree that moderation is key, and that eating so-called unhealthy foods in moderation is unlikely to cause any lasting damage.

“I think it would be fine to eat this meal once a week,” House says, “depending on the rest of the week and day's food intake.”


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