If you want to know which UK restaurants have calories on their menus, where to see them and what to order once you get in there, this is the post for you. It helps you find the calories quickly and easily – and reveals the lowest calorie options for you once you get there.
Want to Find Calorie Free Menus?
If you found this post, looking for information on restaurants with calorie-free menus, this isn’t the most helpful post for you as it talks calories further down.
Instead, we have a separate post that gives you all the information about no-calorie menus loading later today or tomorrow (I’m typing as fast as I can).
Head over there and it’ll give you all the information you need.
When I first wrote it this post was super useful as main chain calories weren’t easy to find.
Even back in 2019 when I last updated it, it wasn’t always that easy. Some of them didn’t list them at all, some did – but required a deep dive around their website to find them – and others, published them clearly.
Now, as I update it again in August 2022, finding out how many calories are in a meal at Frankie and Benny’s or Wagamama is easy – as they’re on the menu plain as day! But this has also brought up a few questions, so, we decided to answer those as well as point out the original information.
NB: If you don’t want to read any of that and just want to know what to eat at Bills or Wagamama, just use the Table of Contents below and it’ll take you straight to the right section…
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What Restaurants Show Calories on the Menus?
As of April 2022, the law says that any restaurant in England with a staff of over 250 people needs to list the calories on their menu.
What that means is that pretty much any chain restaurant now will list them for you to see before you order.
Is This a Good Thing?
Yes – and no.
If you spend any time on this blog, you’ll notice I do a lot of posts on finding lower calorie options in restaurants and elsewhere.
This started because eating out for me wasn’t something I did once every few months as a treat, I was eating out 2-3 times a week and I wanted to be able to do that and make choices that meant I wasn’t paying the consequences around my middle – and, it’s not always easy to tell by looking at the menu what the lower- calorie choices are – except, it’s not usually the salad!!
And yes, I’m well aware that low-calorie doesn’t always mean healthy – but, I understand nutrition and the rest of my diet is good and so, for me, it was a good deciding factor if I felt like using it.
I was therefore a big fan of restaurants publishing their nutritional information on their website, and, I wanted other people, who were looking for it, to be able to find it easily too.
The key point there though was ‘people who were looking for it’.
There’s a big difference between wanting to know the calories in a dish and choosing to order off the menu with regards to that, than, being confronted with a list of numbers that, sometimes, can suck the joy out of what you’re eating – or, even worse, start to trigger feelings of disordered eating.
That’s why, I’m not so sure we should have calories on menus.
Again, I think they should be available for anyone who wants them – maybe with a QR code on the existing menu that flags them up clearly rather than making you hunt around the houses for them, or just ignoring that they even exist, but it should be your choice to look for them.
Is There Any Evidence for Calories on Menus?
The reason the government say they introduced the move is to help combat the rise in obesity in the UK.
I’m not going into the arguments about why how many calories are in your plate of noodles might be the tip of the iceberg here – rather than the great big bit underneath the water that’s more likely to sink the ship – but, I will look at what’s been shown in the past on this.
It’s mixed to say the least. In fact, when they were asked to analyse the data, The Cochrane Group – who, are held up generally as the gold standard data crunchers in health research, said it ‘could reduce the amount of calories people consume – although the quality of evidence is low.
But even then they didn’t predict it was going to change things by much.
They determined that three of the studies were rigorous enough to pass their selection criteria and when they pooled the results of those, it showed that putting calorie labels on meals reduced calories consumed by 12 per cent a meal – that’s about 120 calories on a 1000 calorie meal (and it’s pretty easy to consume 1000 calories when eating out)
If someone ate out twice a week for a year, that would see a drop of 240 calories – which according to the principle of calories in vs calories out (and if everything else remained equal) would see a loss of 3.56lb.
Which, admittedly for many of us already carrying an extra pound or two, is preferable to a gain of another 3.56lb. And it’s also true that other studies have seen a much higher reduction – this study found people ordered 400 calories less.
But something else also happens when we put calories on the menus. Restaurants start adding lower calorie options to their selection.
Calorie labelling began in the US in 2018 and in January 2022, a team at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health analysed menus for any changes and they found that items added to the menus after 2018 contained an average of 25 per cent fewer calories than those that had been on the menu for longer.
So, it might make a difference in a few different ways – it’ll be interesting to see if it changes things here too.
Where Can You Find Chain Restaurant Calories Ahead of Time
Now at this point you might think the rest of this post is redundant – after all, if the menu in front of you has the calories on it, why do you need to look things up before you get there?
Well you don’t – but, it’s also been shown in studies that we tend to follow other people’s menu choices when we eat out together – and the one who orders first is the one that leads the pack.
So, if you want to stay on plan for the evening (and don’t forget, one meal never ruins a diet if you get on the wagon again at the next one) then get ahead of the curve and be ready before anyone else speaks – and do that, it can help to know what you want to order before you even sit down.
Again, I’m not saying you have to do that – one of the lovely things about going out to eat, especially somewhere you haven’t been before is discussing the menu with friends and deciding what you’re all going to have, but if you want to stick on plan then it’s something to consider… so, here’s where to go to find them – and, we’ve also highlighted the lowest calorie choice on each menu
Note: All information is correct on the day I update this in August 2022 – menus do change regularly though so, if you notice that something is wrong, please let me know in the comments and I’ll know to go through and update that one.
Where to Find UK Chain Restaurant Calories
You’ll find a full list of the Ask Italian calories on the menu online here – just enter the restaurant you’re visiting and you’ll get the correct numbers.
The lowest calorie choice is the Pollo Prosciutto – chicken wrapped in prosiutto in a creamy mushroom and wine sauce, at 446 calories.
Find the Bella Italia calories and menu listed here – they also let you filter by Gluten-Free, Vegan and Vegetarian.
The lowest calorie option is the Pomodoro Con Bufala which combines rigatoni pasta, tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella for 463 calories.
If you want to find the calories at Bills before you go, you’ll find them on their menu here.
Unlike most restaurants now, they aren’t obvious. You do have to click each item individually though using the little i icon next to the dish name – and make sure that the ‘calorie-free’ toggle is set to on.
The lowest calorie option is the Hippy Bowl – a salad containing butternut squash, lentils,avocado and more at 439 calories.
Feel like a little French touch with dinner tonight – then you’ll find all the calories on the Café Rouge menu here.
I love Beef Bourguignon and am pleasantly surprised that it’s the lowest calorie option (as served, a couple of others look lower but then you realise they haven’t added the chips). It only has 461 calories!
Chiquito used to be one of the places that didn’t give all their calories away, although they did have a lower calorie section on the menu – now they do, and you’ll find all the Chiquito calories here, but you might need to do a bit of calculating as some of the Mexican options where you choose your filling and spice need some maths to create the numbers.
The speedy option? Pick the Pineapple Salsa Seabass with a side salad at 445 calories.
If you’re looking for the calories at Cote Brasserie, head to their website, which you’ll find here, enter the location of the restaurant you’re visiting and voila, they appear.
The lowest calorie option on the all year round menu is the chicken based Paillard Salad at 448 calories
Frankie and Benny’s
I used to say that if I had a dollar for everyone landing on this website looking for Frankie and Benny’s calorie information, I wouldn’t need to do my other job! Although it’s a bit of luck I wasn’t relying on that income because they’re here now on the menu.
It’s strange, I always thought they’d be ridiculously high because they didn’t publish them, but that’s not necessarily the case – I’ve seen as high numbers at restaurants claiming to be healthy! Do read carefully though – there’s a few dishes where you have to add the fries, or toppings, to get the real total.
The best low calorie choice is the plain Mediterranean salad at 299 calories (a bit low, but at least it has plant-protein in it) or, try the Seared Steakhouse Salad at 480 calories. Yes, the plain Caesar is lower but, it’s not as balanced nutritionally.
There might be one group of people who welcome the calories on menus revolution, and that’s the Giraffe twitter team as they used to have to field endless enquiries for them – and you had to email customer services to get them!
Now, they’re on the website no emails required! Although they do say it’s just a sample menu.
For that reason the lowest calorie choice may differ when you get the restaurant, but, on the version I’m seeing it’s the Pink Caesar Salad at 522 calories.
Another group that didn’t use to publish their calories – but, you’ll find them here now
And now I really want a burrito bowl as they look great! They’re also one of the lowest calorie section on the menu (mostly) – try the vegan Jackfruit Burrito Bowl at 321 calories, or, Grilled Chicken at 427 calories. The absolute lowest calorie choice though is the Fiesta Ensalada with crayfish at 389 calories.
Loch Fyne always published a really clear calorie guide and so there’s no surprise it’s easy to access on their website now too. Interestingly, their fresh fish has a range of calories – because, I’m guessing the exact weight of a fillet varies – it’s not a large swing so I wouldn’t worry about it, but I liked that it shows their meals aren’t all exactly the same.
You might need your calculator though as to create a meal from the fish menu, you need to add up the calories from your fillet, sauce and two sides. The lowest combination is a meagre fillet, Chimichurri sauce with samphire and okra at 483 calories.
Pho worked with a nutritionist to find out the impact of putting calories on their menus and decided to go with the option to choose to see them, rather than offering caloried menus as standard.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t telling you anything though – you can sort their menu for dishes under 500 calories (of which there are a lot) so you don’t get hung up on exact numbers, or, you’ll find a full list of numbers if you download the nutritional menu here.
They also work with Weight Watchers so you’ll find points on the WW app too.
The absolute lowest calories option is the Papaya Salad with Prawn at 129 calories (plus a spring roll) but that’s way too low alone – so, go for the Steak Pho instead/as well at 297 – it’s super filling.
If you want to see a deep dive on the lowest calorie options at Pho, you’ll find our full post on Pho Calories here.
You’ll find a full list of Pizza Express calories here.
The lowest calorie dish is the Vegan Nourish Bowl at 443 calories, or, for just 5 more you can have the new Zucchini Linguine which has just 448.
And of course, the Leggera pizzas shave a few calories off compared to ordering the original – the lowest of those is the Quattro Verdure at 443 calories.
Find a list of the Pizza Hut restaurant calories here. You can also adjust them by base which is good as that used to be quite tricky to work out on the old menu.
If you’re eating from the buffet, then you might want to check their full nutrition leaflet as that also covers the salads and other items you’ll find there.
To save you time, the lowest calorie choice at Pizza Hut is currently the Vegan Virtuous Flatbread at 401 calories.
If you’re ordering in, then you might want to check out our deep dive on Pizza Hut’s Calories here.
I got all confused when I first went onto the Prezzo website, as I didn’t see their calories. But, it turns out, they’ve decided not to display them right up front, you need to go into their Health Hub where you’ll find a menu that contains them. Find it here
Once you do though it’s super easy to use and the lowest calorie main meal option at Prezzo is the Penne Arrabbiata at 525 calories.
The Ivy Collection
I was hunting around The Ivy Collections website for a while before I worked out where to find them. And then I saw the tiny QR code on the corner on the online menus – scan that and you’ll be taken to a page with all the details you need.
You can also set yourself a calorie limit so you don’t even see anything over say, 700 calories!
To get to the page, go to the main The Ivy Collection website here choose your restaurant, then open up the menu – you’ll find the QR code on the bottom right.
The lowest calorie option is the Blackened Cod Fillet at 349 calories, but you’ll need to add a side to that – or, have their iconic Shepherd’s Pie at 397 calories.
Wagamama have the calories listed on the menus on their website. You’ll find the full list here.
You do need to click around a bit to compare things because of the way the site is laid out.
The lowest calorie option is the Miso Mixed Vegetable Hayashi Bowl at 412 calories.
You’ll also find our deep dive into the lowest calorie options at Wagamama here.
If you’re looking for the Wahaca calories, you’ll find them on the online menu here . You can also download the menu as it looks in the restaurant to check later.
If you notice some other numbers on the menu, Wahaca also notate their menu as to how climate friendly they are too.
Because Wahaca is more nibbly and sharing orientated, it can be a bit tricky to pick a lowest calorie choice – but, if you’re going for a larger meal, then the Sweet Potato and Tenderstem Rainbow Bowl is the lowest calorie choice at 366 calories – in fact that’s a bit too low, so you might want to add a side dish to that, or, go for the Grilled Chicken Rainbow Bowl at 408 calories.
You’ll find a full list of the Zizzi calories on their website here
They also list things that are under 600 calories so you can spot them quite easily.
To save you even more time though, the lowest calorie thing you can order at Zizzi is the Super Zucca Salad at 315 calories. That’s a bit low for a main meal so, maybe grab a starter, or, the Chicken and Proscuitto Salad (471 calories) or the King Prawn Linguine at 498 calories are other good options.
See our deep dive into the lowest calorie choices at Zizzi here.
So, there you have it, as many restaurant calories in the UK as I can find. Did I forget anyone? If so, please pop a comment below and I will add them to the list.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.