Even though many people these days might be embarrassed to admit that they eat fast food, most of indulge at least sometimes. While fast food is rarely the absolute healthiest option, many fast food restaurants do have healthy to healthy-ish options on their menus.
But no matter how healthy the menu items are, you could ruin all the healthiness by adding extra condiments and sauces. I know that when I eat burgers, chicken tenders, fries, or salads, I pile on the ketchup and barbecue sauce or the dressing. This is probably the worst thing to do when trying to eat healthy at a fast food restaurant (or any restaurant really).
Another thing you should try to avoid doing at fast food restaurants in order to get the healthiest meal possible is skip a side order and drink (unless it’s water). So, if your friends try to force you into eating fast food, or if you’re just craving it but are trying to eat healthy, try these healthier options from almost every fast food restaurant.
Taco Bell: Fresco Soft Tacos (280 calories)
The healthiest item on the taco bell menu is the fresco soft tacos with shredded chicken or beef. These tacos are only 280 calories and only have 7 grams of fat. Black beans and rice are a great option to add to your tacos or eat on the side because together they make a protein and it is only an added 180 calories. If you are trying to be extra healthy, consider skipping the rice, since the chicken in the tacos already has protein.
Burger King: Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich (320 calories)
The tendergrill chicken sandwich is only 320 calories and has 6 grams of fat (if you get it without the mayo). If you’re still hungry, your healthiest side would be apple slices, but I doubt you’re going to Burger King for their apples, so the 150 calorie onion rings is your next best option.
Panda Express: Panda Bowl with Mixed Veggies and Broccoli Chicken (250 calories)
I am obsessed with Asian food, which is why Panda Express makes me so happy, yet so, so sad. Everything at Panda Express has a ton of sodium, but the healthiest option is a Panda Bowl with mixed veggies and broccoli chicken. The veggies, which you will have to get in place of rice or noodles (crying), are 70 calories with only .5 grams of fat, BUT have 530 mg of sodium. The broccoli chicken is only 180 calories with 2 grams of fat, but is also filled with 630 mg of sodium.
Wendy’s: Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (340 calories)
The Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich with a garden side salad with lemon garlic Caesar dressing is the healthiest meal you will find at Wendy’s. The sandwich is 340 calories (it would be a lot less without the bread) and has 8 grams of fat. The salad and dressing are 130 calories, but if you skip dressing, it’s 105 calories less, but will also be super dry. It’s kind of like eating paper and, yes,unfortunately I know what that is like.
McDonald’s: Hamburger (250 calories)
Surprisingly, a McDonald’s hamburger has the lowest amount of calories (250 cals) even though McDonald’s has a salad. The healthiest side for the burger would be a side salad with Italian dressing (70 cals), even though the fries might be the best tasting side. If you are trying to avoid bread and meat, try the premium Caesar salad with grilled chicken and low fat vinaigrette dressing with a fruit and yogurt parfait, which is 375 total calories.
Subway: Veggie Delight Salad (60 calories)
That $5 footlong is definitely not what you want to be ordering if you’re trying to eat healthy. Your best option would be the veggie delight salad, which is only 60 calories. Subway’s 8 oz home-style chicken noodle soup (110 cals) is also a good option. If you HAVE to have a sandwich, you should order a 6-inch subway club on 9-grain wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumbers and sweet onion sauce (you could even get apple slices on the side if your feelin’ it). This side and sandwich are 445 calories with only 4.5 grams of fat.
KFC: Grilled Chicken Whole Wing and Drumstick (120 calories)
The great thing about KFC is that you can order as many or as little pieces of chicken as you want. Even though you probably go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for the fried chicken, the healthiest option is the Kentucky grilled chicken whole wing and drumstick (120 cals) with a side of green beans (25 cals).
Carl’s Jr.: Charbroiled Chicken Salad (320 calories)
Technically, the healthiest item on the Carl’s Jr. menu is the charbroiled chicken salad (320 cals), but the healthiest sandwich would have to be the similar charbroiled BBQ chicken sandwich, which is 390 calories. Carl’s Jr. actually seems to be one of the healthier fast food restaurants and even has a whole salad section on the menu.
Chipotle: Vegetarian Salad (420 Calories)
I am OBSESSED with Chipotle, but unfortunately my usual order that includes extra white rice and extra cheese is not what I should be eating on the reg. You have a few healthy choices when eating at Chipotle, so you really just have to be careful about how many toppings you add to your salad or burrito bowl. One option is a vegetarian salad with black beans, fajita vegetables and vinaigrette dressing which is 420 calories. If you’re not really a salad person, get a vegetarian burrito bowl with brown rice and skip the side tortilla and chips.
Arby’s: Chopped Farmhouse Salad (230 calories)
Arby’s Chopped Farmhouse Salad with roast turkey and light Italian dressing is what you want to be ordering here (but is it really?). This salad also comes with two potato cakes, which makes for a total of 470 calories for this healthy meal.
Jack in the Box: Grilled Chicken Strips (250 calories)
If you’re in the mood for four pieces of grilled chicken strips and a side salad, head over to Jack in the Box. Surprisingly, a four-piece grilled chicken strips is only 250 calories and the side salad with light dressing is 48 calories.
Popeyes: Blackened Tenders (170 calories)
If you can’t find a Jack in the Box, go to Popeyes for a three-piece blackened tenders, which is 170 calories. Instead of a side salad, Popeyes offers a healthy side of green beans, but make sure you skip over the high-sodium gravy that gets poured on them.
Dairy Queen: Grilled Chicken Garden Greens Salad (160 calories)
Order the grilled chicken garden greens salad (160 cals), because I’m sure that’s what you go to Dairy Queen for. If you really can’t be doing the salad, your healthiest option would be onion rings, which are really not healthy at all…
Five Guys: Veggie Sandwich (440 calories)
Although you will probably be dying to eat a burger, go vegetarian for a day and try getting a veggie sandwich, which is 440 calories and honestly does not look that bad. Although I am all about those sides, there aren’t really any healthy side options here. Even the little fry is 526 calories with 23 grams of fat.
In-N-Out: Protein Style Hamburger (240 calories)
Since I grew up in California, I unfortunately took In-N-Out for granted. I really didn’t know how good it was until I got to school and realized I could no longer get animal style fries at 1 in the morning and now have to settle for dhall’s no-style plain fries not only at 1 in the morning, but at any time of day. While I would love to tell you to keep on eating those animal style fries, unfortunately those plain dhall style fries are better for you and are the closest thing to a salad you will be getting at In-N-Out. In terms of an actual meal, order the protein style hamburger, which is only 240 calories.
Shake Shack: Shack-ago Dog (380 calories)
Although you might have heard to stay away from hot dogs, I am going to tell you the exact opposite. When it comes to Shake Shack, the Shack-ago dog is your healthiest choice because it has the least amount of sodium. This hot dog also comes with a surprising amount of veggies on top and is 380 calories.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Wake-Up Wrap (190 calories)
If you are up in time for breakfast, get an egg white veggie Wake-Up Wrap (190 cals) with hash browns along with your coffee. If it is past breakfast time for you (which it usually is for me), order a tuna salad sandwich on an English muffin.
Although most of these choices are pretty low in calories for fast food, it is important to remember that just because something is low in calories, does not mean it is your healthiest choice. A shot of vodka is less calories than a banana, and I’m sure we all know which one is healthier for you…