Chicken shawarma is one of the most popular snacking options for working individuals and college students. Since it is available so easily and is reasonably priced, besides being an absolute lip-smacker, it can be carried around conveniently and can be eaten on the go. So is chicken shawarma unhealthy? And can it result in weight gain?
The base for every shawarma is the bread, which is made using refined flour and rising agents, but that isn’t even the unhealthiest part. Most eateries use mayonnaise or garlic cream, which is nothing more than emulsified vegetable oil and a few spices and herbs to give it some flavour. Add the deep-fried french fries into the mix and you have an absolute caloric bomb. You may be led to believe that the chicken can be a saving grace, but most eateries use chicken skin and fat to cut down on cost, which means that you may be getting just a tiny bit of protein from the chicken itself.
Fats being the most caloric dense food comes in at a staggering 32 grams, which calorically comes to 54% per shawarma. Most of the fat comes from the emulsified oils used on the base of the bread and again on the shawarma itself while serving. In fact, restaurants are known for using chicken skins as not only is it cheaper but gives the appearance that they are using a fair amount of chicken when in reality, they aren’t. Most eateries also add french fries that are deep-fried and we’ve done an entire blog on the caloric nightmare that french fries are.
As chicken contains no carbohydrates, all of the carbs in the dish come from the bread, although some restaurants are known to add starches to the mayonnaise as well and most eateries even add french fries into the mix to add to the taste and flavour. At 41 grams of carbohydrates per wrap, most of which comes from refined flour, it can lead to serious weight gain, due to the insulin response that your body has post-consumption of refined foods.
Almost all of the protein comes from meat aka chicken, and while the chicken breast is a good source of protein, it is also the most expensive cut, and most restaurants avoid using it. As mentioned above, most restaurants use chicken skin and fatty pieces, which reduces the amount of protein per serving as you are consuming fats instead.
Chicken shawarma is best to be consumed occasionally, if you must or avoided altogether. You can prepare a healthier variant of the dish at home by swapping the mayonnaise with greek yogurt and using chicken breast instead of leftover pieces of meat.