We all have those days where we’re running short on time. Maybe it’s been a long day at work and you just don’t want to cook, or the kids have a million different things to do tonight and you won’t have any time to throw something together food-wise. Those fast food signs can become very tempting on hectic days, but you can still make healthy choices when grabbing a quick bite.
Fast food tip #1: Keep an eye on the condiments
When it comes to meals at fast food restaurants, a lot of calories and unhealthy fats can be hiding in the sauces. This is particularly true for “creamy” condiments, think ranch dressing, mayonnaise, etc. Any time you can swap out mayo or ranch for catsup, mustard, or bbq sauce, you’ll automatically be making your meal a little healthier.
Fast food tip #2: Watch portion sizes and sides
It’s no secret that the average consumer likes to feel like they’re getting the most bang for their buck, so many companies try to cram more food and calories into one meal. This results in portion sizes much bigger than what is typically suggested for a daily diet. Try cutting back and eating only half of your meal and save the rest for later or for lunch tomorrow.
The same thing applies to sides. We all love french fries, but they pack a lot of calories and trans fatty acids. Fortunately, many fast food chains now offer fruit cups or apple slices that you can replace fries or onion rings with. We’re not saying you need to give up all fried goodness for the rest of your life, but it’s good to strike a balance. Try replacing one of your sides the next time you go out to eat with something healthier, and your body will thank you!
Fast food tip #3: Avoid sugary drinks
You would be amazed by how many calories are in one large soda. For example, a large coke from McDonald’s contains 310 calories and it’s basically pure sugar, which is one of the worst things for your body to process. Keep in mind that the average suggested daily intake of calories for an active adult is 2,000 calories a day. One large coke is roughly 15% of the suggested daily caloric intake! That’s huge, and it offers no nutritional benefits. We suggest passing on sodas for water or unsweetened tea. Not only does that free up 15% of your calories to eat other delicious foods or stick to a strict diet to shed some pounds.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics to help you make informed, healthier decisions when you hit up your favorite place a quick bite, let’s get on to some of our favorite healthy foods and meals from popular food chains!
Burger King Veggie Burger (no mayo)
Why we like it: Sometimes it can be difficult to find fast food options for vegetarians but look no further! This burger is high in protein, and, if you leave off the mayo, it’s low in fat.
Burger King Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no mayo)
Why we like it: With this sandwich being low in calories, you can add a side salad or fruit to fill up even more! If you need more flavor, ask for some bbq sauce on the side.
Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Why we like it: Not only is this a lean sandwich with good condiments (we see you BBQ), but Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s announced that these new chicken fillets are antibiotic-free and all natural.
Chick-Fil-A Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
Why we like it: The wrap is packed with lean meat and veggies, plus they’ve substituted a carb filled bun with a quesadilla. Win-win!
Chick-Fil-A Hash Brown Scramble Bowl
Why we like it: Most people need to start the day off with breakfast. This one is a great choice if you’re in a hurry because it is high in protein. Protein will help you stay full until lunchtime!
Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl (with brown rice & no sour cream/cheese)
Why we like it: We can’t resist the call of Chipotle, so it’s good to know they have healthier options for us. Most of their meals are already fairly healthy, just ask for no cheese or sour cream to reduce your overall calories.
Dunkin’ Donuts Egg-White Veggie Flatbread
Why we like it: Egg whites give you healthy proteins while veggies provide other nutritional value. This choice is also fairly low on sodium making it a great choice to start your day with! Plus, it’s low calorie, so you can pair it with fruit or yogurt to feel even more full.
KFC Zinger Sandwich (no mayo)
Why we like it: While this chicken is fried, so it isn’t exactly healthy per-se, it is one of the better options at KFC if you leave off the mayo. Add a side of green beans to add veggies, and you’ll be golden!
McDonald’s Pico Guacamole with Artisan Grilled Chicken (no buttermilk ranch sauce)
Why we like it: This is a filling sandwich that has healthy fats, lean protein, and is super flavorful! Want to cut the calories even more? Remove the sharp white cheddar cheese, and this sandwich comes in at only 430 calories!
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
Why we like it: Another good breakfast option for those who want to watch their waistline. The carbs in this McMuffin are low, and eggs are one of the best ways to start your day! Just make sure you leave off the fatty breakfast meat.
Papa John’s Garden Fresh Pizza (two medium slices)
Why we like it: Lots of veggies with the deliciousness of pizza? Count us in! Keep an eye on your sodium/salt intake for the rest of the day, as pizza is notoriously high in sodium which can be bad for your health.
Pizza Hut Garden Party Thin-Crust Pizza (two medium slices)
Why we like it: For the same reasons as above, we’ll never say no to pizza with deliciously healthy toppings. This one has a little less sodium, but keep an eye on your salt for the rest of the day.
Panera Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken
Why we like it: Craving something a little sweeter for lunch? This salad is a good combination of protein, veggies, and fruit. Panera has so many delicious and healthy options to choose from that they are easily one of our favorite stops for a quick lunch or dinner. You really can’t go wrong with any of Panera’s salads.
Subway 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub (no cheese, add avocado)
Why we like it: Subway has been a pretty big advocate for healthy eating over the years, and they make it very easy to get healthy sandwiches quick. Choose whole wheat or 9-grain bread for an even bigger health boost!
Starbucks Smoked Turkey Protein Box
Why we like it: Next time you stop for a caffeine pick-me-up, you might as well grab lunch, too! We love this healthy choice because not only does it come with three pieces of an applewood smoked turkey sandwich, it also comes with carrots and apple slices.
Taco Bell Chicken Burrito Supreme (Fresco Style)
Why we like it: Taco Bell may be one of our guilty pleasures, but that doesn’t mean you need to feel guilty the next time you stop for a burrito! Taco Bell’s Fresco menu swaps sour cream and cheese for the healthier option of salsa.
Wendy’s Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad (full size)
Why we like it: Not all salads at fast food chains are healthy, but this one is a goodie! It’s packed with protein, but it is high in sodium. Restrict your salt intake for the rest of the day if you choose this salad for lunch.
Wendy’s Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich
Calories: 430Why we like it: This is a great light choice for lunch, and it doesn’t sacrifice flavor! It’s filled with protein, and it has fewer calories and less sugar than most of Wendy’s salads.