Unhappy hour: The truth about those Buffalo wings

According to Restaurant Business magazine, low cost dining spots like wing joints have become some of the country's fastest-growing chains. Cincinnati-based Buffalo Wings & Rings is now the nation's fastest-growing franchised restaurant.

Several recent surveys have confirmed that tighter food budgets are causing more consumers to seek out less expensive dining options. But, folding wings into your dining lineup too frequently could lead to a seriously expanding waistline. Here's the low down on the calorie counts of several popular wing spots:

  • Lone Star, chicken wings appetizer: 1,759 calories
  • Applebees, 1 order boneless Buffalo wings, 1,724 calories
  • Zaxby's, large order wings & things, 1,673 calories
  • Old Chicago, best Buffalo chicken wings, 1,562 calories
  • Chi-Chi's, 1 order Tex-Mex BBQ wings, 1,421 calories
  • Chili's, boneless Buffalo wings, 1,250 calories
  • Hooters, 5 chicken wings, 866 calories
  • Wingstop, 10 Cajun wings, 600 calories
  • Pizza Hut, 10 hot wings, 600 calories
  • KFC, 1 order of 5 boneless fiery Buffalo wings, 420 calories

Most adult women need about 1,600 calories a day
and men (who are usually taller and have more muscle) 1,800 - 2,000. That means a single wing order can provide a quarter to well over 100% of the calories needed in an entire day. Not to mention the fact that each wing contains 1 gram of artery clogging saturated fat not including the blue cheese.

If you're a health and budget conscious wing fan, here are a few alternatives:

  • Try a Veggie Alternative: Morningstar Farms (frozen), 5 veggie buffalo wings, 200 calories
  • Make Your Own! Ingredients:One 4-oz grilled chicken breast, sliced into strips (120 calories), red hot sauce (0 calories), 1 cup celery stalks (15 calories), dip made from one quarter cup reduced fat sour cream (90 calories) and 2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese (50 calories). Total = 275 calories, a much healthier meal with enough room to add a serving of whole grains like popcorn or fresh fruit!

So, what are your thoughts? Have you been seeking out less expensive dinner alternatives? Do you have some healthy tips for wing-lovers? Please share!

CORRECTION: Wingstop was originally listed as containing 1,590 calories for 10 Cajun wings. That number came from www.DailyPlate.com. Wingstop states that their independent lab has analyzed the actual calorie count to be 600 calories for 10 Cajun wings. Thank you for providing this information.

Please note:

According to the USDA Database:

1 wing, bone removed (listed as Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, cooked, roasted, NDB No: 05103) contains 99 calories.

1 wing, bone removed (listed as Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, cooked, fried, flour, NDB No: 05102) contains 103 calories.

1 wing, bone removed (listed as Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, cooked, fried, batter, NDB No: 05101) contains 159 calories.

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