Fast food choices for health conscious consumers
Maintaining a healthy diet can be a daunting task. If you are fortunate enough to eat at home most days, then it’s much easier to stay on target because you have full control over your food choices. But for many people who lead busy lives or have to frequently travel or work on the road, that luxury isn’t always an option. So we often turn to fast food restaurants for quick, easy meals which are delicious but typically not nutritious.
While most fast food fare is loaded with grease and fat, there are some healthier choices you can make. Over the last decade, fast food restaurants have made a concerted effort to feature healthier options for consumers. So it is possible to find meals that fit your fitness plan, you just have to know where to look. You should also keep in mind that with any fast food meal, you can always skip the bun and cheese and should definitely request no mayo. Here are some of the more popular fast food restaurants in the U.S., many of which are also prominent across the globe, and the healthy choices they offer.
Subway: Because the sandwiches at Subway are made to order, it’s an ideal choice for healthy meals since you can choose everything from the bread to the veggies. A six-inch turkey sub on 9-grain bread with Swiss cheese is 390 calories with 23 grams of protein and 49 grams of carbohydrates. You could also try a veggie sub, which weighs in at 380 calories with 17 grams of fat. Subway also offers flatbread sandwiches and chopped salads, but skip the cookies, chips and soda.
McDonalds: If you’re gonna go to McDonald’s, don’t be tempted by the french fries. Their Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich is 380 calories with 37 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 44 grams of carbs. The snack size Fruit and Yogurt parfait is a great option, especially for breakfast, with 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. McDonalds also has several salads, but if you’re going to go that route, skip the croutons, cheese and dressing.
Burger King: The BK Veggie Burger, minus the mayo of course, is just 310 calories with 7 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbs. A Garden Chicken Salad with grilled chicken and no mayo is just 340 calories with 16 grams of fat.
Wendy’s: The full size Power Mediterranean Salad weighs in at 480 calories with 43 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat along with 42 grams of carbs. This hefty salad is loaded with salt though. You’ll have to avoid the temptation of the Baconator if you go to Wendy’s, which isn’t easy, but they do offer several salad choices as well as wraps. A Grilled Chicken Wrap is just 270 calories with 10 grams of fat.
Starbucks: Caffeine is a natural thermogenic and helps to reduce water weight. Just avoid the cream and sugar. Starbucks also makes a Spinach, Feta and Cage-Free Egg-White Breakfast Wrap which is just 290 calories with 10 grams of fat and 33 grams of carbohydrates.
Chick-Fil-A: Originally a staple in the South, Chick-fil-A has expanded its reach all across the U.S. The Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap is delicious and at only 340 calories, it’s a great choice for lunch or dinner. With cheese, it has 14 grams of fat and 29 grams of carbs. Chick-Fil-A has several grilled chicken choices that are healthier options. The company spent 7 years and went through 1,200 recipes to revamp their grilled chicken menu. Whatever they did, it worked, because no one makes a better grilled chicken sandwich than Chick-Fil-A. They also offer a Market Salad with 330 calories and 14 grams of fat, and a Superfood Side Salad that contains Broccoli, kale, maple vinaigrette dressing, dried cherries, glazed walnuts, roasted almonds and glazed pecans, which contains 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein.
Dunkin Donuts: Try the Egg-White Veggie Flatbread, which has 280 calories, 14 grams of fat and 33 grams of carbohydrates.
Hardees: Some fast food outlets like Hardees and Arby’s have eschewed the healthy eating trends, so they don’t offer up many choices for those seeking healthier options. Hardees does have a 1/4-pound Low Carb Little Thickburger with 220 calories, 15 grams of fat and just 6 grams of carbs.
Arby’s: Slim pickings for healthy choices here, but at least they try. Arby’s has the meats, but they also have a 237 calorie, Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad which has bacon in it with 13 grams of fat and 9 grams of carbohydrates.
Kentucky Fried Chicken: KFCs grilled chicken is a great option, and you can combine it with green beans and corn at just 320 calories, 8 grams of fat and 24 grams of carbs. Pull off the skin to lower the fat content and avoid the biscuits at all cost if you’re watching your weight.
Panera Bread: This franchise has exploded across the U.S. with its promise of clean, healthy food without all the additives and junk. A Seasonal Greens Salad with Chicken and Balsamic Vinaigrette will set you back just 310 calories with 13 grams of fat and 23 grams of carbs. Another strong choice is the Tomato Mozzarella Flatbread which is only 350 calories with 18 grams of fat and 35 grams of carbohydrates. Their low-fat, Chicken Noodle Soup is just 160 calories and 5 grams of fat.
A&W: For our friends in Canada, A&W’s burgers are mouthwatering, but you’ll want to avoid them if you’re watching what you eat. Try the three-piece, hand-breaded chicken tenders with 260 calories and 9 grams of fat. If you absolutely can’t resist the fries, go with a small, which has 200 calories and 8 grams of fat.
As you can see, there are plenty of choices at fast food restaurants if you look carefully. All restaurants have their nutritional information online and available in stores as well, so you make an informed decision. From their options, Panera Bread is the best option for fast casual while Chick-fil-A is the best choice for traditional fast food.