5 Healthy Fast-Food Options that aren't Salads and Taste Amazing
Written by Emily Spicer
Think eating fast food has to derail your diet? Think again! In this article, I am going to share with you six healthy fast food options that aren’t salads, that taste amazing and that will keep you on track with your health and weight loss goals.
It’s easy to demonize fast food and consider it off limits while trying to shed excess pounds when you consider the fact that the average adult eats fast food 1-3 times per week and consumes approximately 836 calories at each one of those meals. However, fast food has come a long way and let’s be honest, in today's world it’s a part of our lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw your health goals out the window because of it. You can absolutely reach your goals when eating fast food and to make it easy for you, I‘ve listed five of my favorite fast food restaurants below with a few options at each.
1: Burger King
It may sound counterintuitive to think that you can find decent options at Burger King when trying to lose fat, but the truth is, Burger King has several sandwich options that won’t break your calorie bank. You can stick with a hamburger for 260 calories and 14 grams of protein, or a cheeseburger for 300 and 16 grams of protein, and it always surprises people to learn that they can enjoy a Whopper Jr. or Bacon Cheeseburger for only 340 calories each. If you have a sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with their soft serve cup of vanilla ice cream for 175 calories.
Chick-fil-A has several options to choose from when you’re watching your waistline. My top recommendation is their grilled nuggets. Since they're not breaded or fried, they are a low calorie and high protein option. Their 8 piece grilled nuggets have just 130 calories and 25 grams of protein or you can opt for the 12 piece grilled nuggets for 200 calories and 38 grams of protein. Those are amazing statistics for fast food. Jazz them up by dipping them in one of their low calorie sauces such as the zesty buffalo sauce for 25 calories, or for 45 calories, go with either the BBQ sauce or the sweet and spicy sriracha sauce. If the nuggets aren’t enough and you are in the mood for a sandwich, go with the grilled chicken sandwich. It has 380 calories and 28 grams of protein. Pair that with their 60 calorie fruit cup or their 170 calorie chicken noodle soup cup for a complete meal.
3: Taco Bell
Taco Bell really makes eating healthy on-the-go easy. You can get a chicken soft taco for 160 calories and 12 grams of protein or if steak is more your vibe, you can get a steak soft taco for 180 calories and 9 grams of protein. To make a complete meal I would order two tacos along with a side of the black beans. The black beans are only 50 calories and will add 3 grams of fiber to your meal.
I am also a fan of Taco Bell’s chicken burrito supreme. It will give you a whopping 20 grams of protein for just 370 calories.
Note: Taco Bell gives you the option to order your meal “fresco style,” which substitutes fresh pico de gallo in place of cheese, sour cream, mayo-based sauces, and guacamole. This can cut the fat and calories down in your meal significantly.
4: Panda Express
Panda express has some great calorie-friendly menu options that taste great and will leave you feeling satisfied. My top pick for a high protein meal is their grilled teriyaki chicken for 300 calories and 36 grams of protein. To save calories, ask for the teriyaki sauce on the side so you can control how much to use. Their string bean chicken breast for 190 calories and 14 grams of protein is also a great option, but if you’re in the mood for beef, you must try the black pepper angus steak or the broccoli beef. The black pepper angus steak has 180 calories and 19 grams of protein and the broccoli beef has 150 calories and 9 grams of protein. All really good options and for added health and micronutrients, throw in a side of their microgreens for 90 calories and 6 grams of protein.
I really have to applaud Wendy’s for prioritizing quality in their food. On their website they state that they use meat that is always fresh and never frozen, fruits & vegetables from quality farms and no artificial flavors or preservatives. That’s pretty impressive. When it comes to their burger options, you can’t go wrong with their Jr. Hamburger for 250 calories and 13 grams of protein, or if you need something more substantial, their Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger is a great choice for only 370 calories and 18 grams of protein. Now, I must give their chili a shout out because not only is it delicious, but it is calorie-friendly and loaded with protein. Their small chili has 240 calories and 16 grams of protein and the large has 340 calories and 22 grams of protein. Throw in a plain baked potato for 270 calories to complete the meal.
Note: Wendy’s Frosty’s are delicious and the Jr. size is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth for 190-200 calories.
So there you have it. Five fast food options that taste amazing and won’t throw you off your weight loss goals. The big takeaway here is to not demonize fast food and to not be afraid of it. Sure, making a meal at home may be more nutritious and higher quality, but there are times when doing that is not an option. That is where these fast food options have a place and when you break down the macro nutrients, you’d see that they aren’t that unhealthy after all.