Whether you have a short lunch break, didn’t have time to pack a meal because you were running late, or you just need to stop and grab food because you’re starving — don’t fret. Hitting the drive thru at a fast food place doesn’t mean you have to get a burger and fries (but by all means get those things if you want). You can still stay healthy.
More and more fast food joints are adding healthy fast food options to their menus, so if you’re not in the mood for the typical greasy fare, they’re offering a lot of other alternatives!
Healthy Fast Food Choices
We’ll start with the fast food staple places:
The self-proclaimed king of burgers introduced the Impossible™ Whopper.
“Features a flame-grilled patty made from plants topped with tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions. For guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”
628.9 Calories; 34 g Fat; 10.7 Saturated Fat; 0 g Trans Fat; 18.1mg Cholesterol; 1,077.9mg Sodium: 58g Carbohydrates; 4.2g Fiber, 11.8g Sugar; 25.3g Protein.
They also offer Keto-friendly options, which basically broils down to (get it? Broil, like their burgers? I’m sorry) ordering many of their items without bread.
And if you have a sweet tooth, their soft-serve ice cream cones (142 Calories) and cup (171 Calories) are lower in calories and sodium compared to a milkshake.
McDonald’s has expanded their menu to include healthier options as well as allowing customers to customize orders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
The hot oatmeal is perfect for a breakfast on the go and comes in at 310 calories; 4g fat; 62g carbs and 6g protein.
A burger always hits the spot (unless you’re a vegetarian) and you can skip the bun if you’re doing Keto. But even with the bread, it comes in at a low 250 calories; 8g fat; 31g carbs (no carbs if bun-less) and 13g protein.
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
A salad is always a healthier option, and this one has grilled chicken, so no extra carbs there (tip: always opt for a grilled option if you’re seeking a healthier option). It has 290 calories; 2.5g saturated fat, 650mg sodium and 27 protein.
Plus, it has black beans, which are an excellent source of fiber!
Pico Guacamole 100% Beef Burger
This big patty is a quarter-pound beef burger and is topped with guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese and lettuce. It has 580 calories; 41g carbs and 29g protein.
You can skip the cheese to bring down the caloric number, but cheese is low in carbs so I say get the cheese.
Chicken is your best bet if you pull up to the Wendy’s drive thru, and they have a variety of options.
The Grilled Chicken Sandwich
This sandwich is served on a multigrain roll with tomatoes and spring mix lettuce, is low in saturated fat (1.5 g) and high in protein (35g).
Some locations also allow you to get half-sized portions of salads, like the Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad or Apple Pecan Chicken Salad.
For vegetarians, they offer a large baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce, which is high in protein (15g) and fiber (10g).
I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A for reasons I won’t go into here, but it is a very popular fast food place and they do have healthy options.
Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap®
Their chicken wrap has cheese, lettuce, red cabbage and carrots, all rolled up in a flatbread. It has 350 calories; 15g fiber; 14g fat and 37g of protein. The sodium is high (960mg) but it remains one of the healthiest options.
Grilled Market Salad
This fruit-filled grilled chicken salad (540 calories; 31g fat; 41g carbs and 28g protein) has blueberries, strawberries, and apples mixed in with lettuce and cabbage. Get the dressing on the side and use sparingly if you want to cut down on your sugar intake.
You can also choose to get grilled chicken nuggets (no idea these even existed) instead of the traditional fried nugs, described as “bite-sized pieces of freshly marinated boneless breast of chicken.” They have 130 calories; 3g fat; 1g carbs and 25g protein.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Now we are talkin! Chipotle is beloved for a reason, and their burrito bowls are delicious as well as a healthier alternative.
You can customize your bowl — it’s literally an assembly line of you pointing out what you want and them adding it while you watch — so the control is in your hands.
The chicken is always grilled, so it’s healthier, and they have tofu as well. Even if you pick the steak or the carnitas, it’s going to be lower in carbs due to the lack of tortilla.
But even getting a tortilla (corn, flour or wheat) doesn’t make it less healthy, as they don’t fry them. The nutritional value varies due to customization, so check out the various options with their nutrition calculator.
Taco Bell has a “Fresco” menu of items that all come in under 350 calories and less than 10g of fat.
You can swap out cheese and sour cream for pico de gallo, which cuts the calories.
Fresco chicken or steak soft tacos are great options, as they are only in terms of calories, 140 to 160 calories each, so you can eat two and have no regrets.
West Coast Only
And for you lucky west coast residents who have access to In-N-Out (I love that place, please come to the East Coast, I BEG YOU), they have a tasty healthier menu item as well.
If you get your burger “protein style,” it arrives without a bun and with a lettuce wrap, onion, tomato, and one-half of the sauce that usually adorns their burgers.
It has 240 calories; 17g fat; 4g saturated fat); 370 mg sodium; 11g carbs; 3g fiber; 7g sugar, and 13g protein.
Almost every fast-food restaurant offers healthy options. If not, the meals can sometimes be modified to suit your dietary preferences.
So the next time you’re in a hurry or craving some on-the-go nourishment, don’t worry about heading to a drive thru — there are so many healthy meals out there!
Have you tried any of these healthy fast food options? Let us know if they’re good below!
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