10 Healthier Fast Food Options You Can Order at Popular Fast Food Chains
Consider these healthy fast food options the next time you pull up to the window.
Medical expert Richard Han, MD, of JustAnswer.com, is a board-certified physician with over 15 years of clinical experience. He regularly counsels patients about healthy fast food choices. “When it comes to fast food, thankfully, there has been a growing demand for healthier choices and an improved response on the part of fast-food chains.” Lighter salads and grilled chicken are almost always a safe bet, but here are some other better-for-you options you can find popular fast-food chains.
Another thing to consider when eating healthy? Dr. Han notes that beverages can add to the calorie count and detract from what you might think is a healthy fast food option: “Water is always the healthiest choice, followed by lower sugar or sugar-free alternative drinks such as diet soda.”
Taco Bell: Fresco Crunchy Taco
Coming in at just 150 calories, 8 grams of fat and 370 mg of sodium, this is one of the best healthy fast-food menu options available. Though most tacos fall to the 170-300 calorie range, be sure to check out the sodium and think about what sauces you are adding. If you feel like you need more nutrition and flavor, salsa is a healthy choice. Here’s more on why Taco Bell is one of the healthiest fast-food places.
Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 8g fat, 20mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 6g protein.
KFC: Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad
Without croutons or dressing, this comes in at 190 calories with 6 grams of fat and 740 mg of sodium. This is also a high protein dish, but remember, this may be more of a side, so be sure when looking into healthy fast food, you might consider having snacks available to you like fresh fruit and vegetables to complement the dish and keep you full. Want the taste of Caesar salad without the salad? Try this Grilled Caesar Chicken.
Nutrition Facts: 190 calories, 16 fat, 75mg cholesterol, 740mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate, 29g protein.
Culver’s: Chicken Noodle Soup
Low in calories but high in comfort, this Midwest favorite from Culver’s comes in at 100 calories and 2 grams of fat. If you’re watching your salt intake, this might not be your best bet, as it has 1100 mg of sodium. Check out these amazing copycat Culver’s recipes.
Nutrition Facts: 100 calories, 2g fat, 30mg cholesterol, 1100mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 6g protein.
Subway: Veggie Delite Sandwich
Have a 6-in. veggie delite sandwich on 9-grain wheat bread (hold the cheese and the sauce) and you will come in at 190 calories, 2 grams of fat and 240 mg of sodium. Though this is a low calorie, low-fat option, it may not tide you over until your next meal, so consider adding low-fat cheese or grilled chicken to add protein. Just be sure to check the fat and calories that this will add to your meal!
Nutrition Facts: 190 calories, 2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 9g protein.
Surely one of the most accessible and popular American fast-food restaurants, when searching for healthy fast food at McDonald’s, many head toward a salad. But note that the southwest salad with grilled chicken has more calories and sodium than McDonald’s basic hamburger. With just 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 510 mg of sodium, this is the choice that most diets recommend. Still craving fries? Stick to a small or even better, a child’s size.
Nutrition Facts: 250 calories, 9g fat, 30mg cholesterol, 510mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 12g protein.
Burger King: Whopper Jr. or Hamburger
Be sure to hold the mayo on either of these protein-packed options and you’ll consume just 314 calories, 17 grams of fat and 389 mg of sodium.
Nutrition Facts: 314 calories, 17g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 389.mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 12g protein.
Arby’s: Ham and Swiss Melt
Though Arby’s is known for its roast beef, other meat options are best. A ham and Swiss melt is filling, and at just 300 calories, 8 grams of fat and 1060 mg of sodium, it is one of the most recommended healthy fast-food items at this restaurant. Note that many menu items at Arby’s are high in sodium.
Nutrition Facts: 324 calories, 17g fat (7g saturated fat), 60mg cholesterol, 474mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 4g fiber), 20g protein.
In-N-Out Burger: Hamburger
Are you a fan of the In-N-Out burger? Order a hamburger protein-style and you’ll get the yummy flavor you’re craving with just 240 calories and 370 mg of sodium. If you’re a big fan of In-N-Out, learn how to make special sauce at home.
Nutrition Facts: 240 calories, 17g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 13g protein.
Sonic: Junior Burger
Sometimes when we’ve been traveling, the only option seems to be Sonic! Their junior burger is one of the better options on the menu at 330 calories, 16 grams of fat and 610 mg of sodium. Try one of these copycat Sonic recipes at home.
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 16g fat, 35mg cholesterol, 610mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 15g protein.
Chipotle: Vegetarian Burrito Bowl
Are you a big Chipotle fan? Read the nutrition info before choosing. Your best bet from Chipotle is the veggie burrito bowl with cauliflower rice, beans, fajita veggies, lettuce, tomato salsa and guacamole. This combo clocks in at 450 calories, 14 grams of protein and 1490 mg of sodium. Skip the guac and save 230 calories, 22 grams of fat and 8 grams of carbs. Next, read up on these copycat Chipotle recipes.
Nutrition Facts: 450 calories, 24g fat, 1490mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 14g protein.