Healthy fast food at Chipotle
The beauty of Chipotle is that they make it so easy to create your own meal. To keep both calories and carbohydrates in check, skip the burritos and go for a burrito bowl. A steak burrito bowl with minimal toppings will still provide a balanced meal that keeps calories in check. However, beware of adding rice, guac, and cheese—these fat-laden options will make your calorie count soar. According to Kristen Smith, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "Guacamole is an excellent heart-healthy fat source, but can still add up in calories quickly. If you must go for the rice, choose the brown rice option and limit to a one-half cup serving." (These are some other nutritionist-approved eats you can score at Chipotle).
Healthy fast food at Burger King
Contrary to popular belief, Burger King actually offers non-burger entrees, and the grilled chicken sandwich is always a good alternative for healthy fare. However, nutritionists stress ordering this one without mayo. Maegan White, RD, urges omitting cheese and mayo to save calories and asking for salad dressing on the side. If you want to be even healthier, choose vinegarettes in place of creamy dressings—and make sure you're not making any of these other salad mistakes.
Healthy fast food at McDonalds
Sorry to all you cheese lovers out there, but an extra slice of cheese can make quite a difference in your calorie and fat intake. While the cheeseburger has 12 grams fat and 300 calories, eliminating the saturated cheese portion gives the burger 250 calories and only 8 grams fat in comparison. There's not much to the classic hamburger, but with its nutrition stats, it's guaranteed to fit into almost any calorie-controlled eating plan. Make sure to hold off on the sugary sauces and extra condiments. (In case you're wondering, this is why those McDonalds fries taste so darn good).
Healthy fast food at Subway
If you want something a little more substantial than a salad, Lanette Kovachi, Subway's in-house dietician, recommends one of their 6" Fresh Fit subs. All of them weigh in at less than 400 calories, are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are free of artificial trans fats. "It's a great source of fiber when made on 9-grain wheat bread and topped with all the fresh veggies. It also has 20 percent of daily recommended iron and vitamin C."
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Healthy fast food at Chick-fil-A
Superfood side salad: 140 calories, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein
This is one of the best fast food joints to visit if you are craving a quick and healthy dish. Their eight chicken nugget meal holds enough protein to keep you full, and adding the side salad (featuring kale, broccolini, dried cherries, and nuts) will provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients to complete the meal. According to Amy Goodson, board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, "Grilled chicken will typically always have fewer calories and fat than its fried food counterpart. In addition, choosing a nutrient-rich side item like fruit, yogurt parfait or salad will add nutrients and take away added fat that is found in the typical French fries side item." (Here are some other nutritionist-approved eats you can find at Chick-fil-A).
Healthy fast food at Arby's
This one doesn't come as much of a surprise, but it's always a great choice if you want to as few calories as possible. While these people may "have the meats," their light and delectable salad option isn't a bad idea either. Even with the greens, you'll attain a solid dose of protein and fiber, all for less than 250 calories. Just make sure to avoid these salad mistakes that will make you gain weight.
Healthy fast food at Wendy's
Don't underestimate the soup options on the menu; the small chili has 15 grams of high-quality protein and 4 grams of satiating fiber, all for under 200 calories. Make this a complete meal by pairing it with a side salad. Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, recommends adding the chili right on top of the salad in place of the dressing and an easy way to increase veggie intake. That way, you'll increase your potassium and get a boost of carbohydrates while you're at it. (Ever wonder why Wendy's is the only fast food chain with baked potatoes?)
Healthy fast food at Taco Bell
Janis Isaman, nutritional coach and owner of My Body Couture, deems Taco Bell as her favorite fast food chain for their high level of customization. "Thanks to the use of nutritional powerhouse beans, and the inclusion of vegetables, these meals have a healthy dose of protein, taste delicious, and pack in a mountain of nutrients while keeping you full," she says. Moreover, this place is concrete proof that chicken isn't always the healthiest option on the menu. The steak version of the fresco soft tacos have fewer calories and less fat than the chicken option. And for 140 calories per taco, don't feel bad about splurging and ordering two. (Beans have also been shown to lower blood pressure.)
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Healthy fast food at KFC
Green beans: 25 calories, 0 gram fat, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram protein
According to Thrillist, a single Kentucky grilled chicken breast offers more protein and less fat than any combination of two other pieces of grilled chicken from KFC. Molly Cutler, a holistic nutritionist and owner of Molly Cutler Health, also tells us that these two options are the items with the least added sugars and unhealthy inflammatory oils. Even when combined, your overall intake is still less than 250 calories.
Healthy fast food at In-N-Out
As much as none of us want to admit it, bread is indeed fattening. As a solution, ask for your burger protein-style next time you order; the hamburger bun is removed, and your burger and all the toppings are wrapped up in fresh lettuce. Brittany Stucklen, a nutritionist at Medifast Weight Control Centers of California, notes, "The protein style burger on In-n-Out's secret menu is one of the healthiest food options available at the fast food chain. This hamburger sans bun includes lettuce, tomato, and a beef patty. This option is only 240 calories compared 330-480 calories for a typical cheeseburger."