The Healthiest Orders at 9 Fast-Food Restaurants
The Complete Guide to Healthy Fast Food Eating
Keep these tips in mind when ordering fast-food meals:
- When unsure what to order for the healthiest fast food, go to the children's menu—you'll get the smallest size possible, plus healthier side options like apple slices.
- Hold the mayo to eliminate more than 100 calories. Unless you say otherwise, it's usually slathered on your sandwich.
- Opt for leaner breakfast meats like ham or Canadian bacon instead of high-fat, high-cal sausage and regular bacon. (And try these healthiest morning meals when you’re cooking at home.)
- Toss the packages of crispy noodles and croutons that come with salads. These extras don't add nutrition but do add plenty of calories and fat.
- Use half the packet of salad dressing. Thanks to the sugar, even low-fat and fat-free versions of most dressings can easily tack on more than 100 calories to your side salad or salad entree.
- Make sure you order chicken grilled—not "crispy," which means fried—on sandwiches and salads.
- Request they cook your burger without added salt for less blood pressure-raising sodium. At McDonald's you can order one minus the "grill seasoning," a mix of salt and pepper.
- When grabbing a beverage, choose a no- or low-calorie one, like water, club soda, unsweetened tea, or low-fat milk.
460 calories, 19 g fat
While it sounds like a splurge, this is actually a fairly low-calorie option if you’re craving a classic fast-food meal. Order the basic burger without mayo and with extra lettuce and tomato to boost veggie servings, then opt for the fries sans-salt to ditch about 100 milligrams of sodium.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub on 9-Grain Wheat Bread, Subway Apple Slices, Small Bag of Baked Lay's
425 calories, 7 g fat
This “Fresh Fit” sub has double the appetite-taming protein of another healthy fast-food option at Subway, the Veggie Delight, which is why turkey is our top pick. It has less sodium than many of the other deli meat subs on the menu, too. Load it up with plenty of fresh veggies for a fiber and vitamin boost.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Market Salad with Grilled Nuggets and Large Fruit Cup
400 calories, 13 g fat
Loaded up with croutons and creamy dressings, a salad can do more damage than a cheeseburger. But this one is well-balanced with just a bit of blue cheese, a hint of fresh fruit sweetness, a nice amount of healthy fats from the nut blend, and 29 grams of protein via the chicken. Bonus: The fruit cup delivers all your fruit servings for the day.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Chicken and Quinoa Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens
420 calories, 17 g fat
This power bowl is much more than leafy greens. It’s piled high with grilled chicken, tomatoes, roasted corn, black beans, jicama, and cotija cheese. All those veggies add up to a filling 9 grams of fiber.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Veggie Egg White Flatbread
240 calories, 10 g fat
This sandwich is served all day and is a much healthier pick than deli standbys like tuna salad. It's a good source of iron and fiber, and the cheese provides a good dose of calcium.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Power Menu Veggie Burrito
430 calories, 19 g fat
There's a whopping 9 grams of fiber in this burrito—that's more than a third of the amount you need all day! Plus, the vitamin C in the tomato salsa will help you absorb more iron from the beans.
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Large Chili with side of Strawberries and Blueberries
280 calories, 6 g fat
Made with ground beef and kidney beans, this classic tastes rich but has only 3 grams of saturated fat. A full cup and a half packs 8 grams of fiber and 20 percent of your daily requirement of fatigue-fighting iron. (By the way, here are six signs you might be iron deficient.)
Healthiest Fast Food Meal: Honey BBQ sandwich and Corn on the Cob
410 calories, 4.5 g fat
Surprise! This sandwich has even less fat than the grilled chicken breast. So go ahead and also order one of the healthier sides. The large ear of corn offers 4 grams of feel-full fiber, but if you get the green beans (20 calories, 0 g fat) or even the mashed potatoes with gravy (120 calories, 3 g fat) instead, your meal will still be less than 500 calories.
Healthy Fast-Casual Restaurant Orders
Consider these options if you’re dining at some not-quite-so-fast restaurants.
- Panera: Cup of 10-Vegetable Soup and Half of a Turkey Sandwich on whole grain bread (340 calories, 9.5 g fat)
- Pizza Hut: 2 slices of medium Thin 'N Crispy Veggie Lovers Pizza (360 calories, 12 g fat)
- Chipotle: Burrito Bowl with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, corn salsa, and guacamole (480 calories, 19 g fat)
- Noodles & Company: Small Zucchetti Garlic and Wine Sauce with Balsamic Chicken (400 calories, 20 g fat)
- Fazoli's: Small Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (390 calories, 8 g fat)