What’s the Healthiest Fast Food to Eat? It can be difficult to find a healthy, well-balanced lunch in a fast-food establishment. However, there are ways to locate healthier alternatives amid diet disasters.
Is there such a thing as Healthiest Fast Food?
The truth is that dining at fast-food restaurants on a frequent basis makes it incredibly difficult to maintain the healthiest diet. Fast food is often high in calories, sodium, and harmful fat, with one meal frequently providing enough for a whole day. It’s also deficient in nutrients and virtually entirely devoid of fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
That doesn’t mean you have to completely forgo fast food. When you’re hungry and on the go, Healthiest fast food is a great option. It’s inexpensive, tasty, and most importantly, convenient. While it’s fine to give in to a need now and then, you can’t make it a daily practice if you want to stay healthiest. The key is moderation, both in terms of how often you visit fast food joints and what you order when you do.
When you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health, Healthiest fast food menus might be difficult to navigate. In most fast food establishments, finding a nutritious, well-balanced meal is difficult. However, there are always options that are healthier than others. The following pointers and menu suggestions will assist you in staying on track.
Aim to keep your entire meal to 500 calories or less.
The average adult consumes 836 calories per fast food meal, which is 175 calories less than what they actually consume. So don’t make any educated guesses! The majority of chains provide nutritional information on their websites as well as at their franchise locations. Make the most of this knowledge.
Opt for foods that are lower in fat and higher in protein and fiber.
Look for goods that include more healthy ingredients, such as fiber, whole grains, and high-quality protein. Also, look for options with a reduced saturated fat content. Also, stay away from anything that contains trans fats.
Bring your own add-on items if you really want a health boost.
Even if you order carefully, getting enough fiber and other key vitamins and nutrients from a fast-food menu might be difficult. Healthy sides and toppings like dried fruit, nuts and seeds, carrot sticks, apple or pear slices, and cottage cheese or yogurt can be brought if you plan beforehand.
Watch your sodium intake
High sodium intake is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Adults should consume less than 1500 mg of salt per day and no more than 2,300 mg per day, according to the American Heart Association. Unfortunately, even when eating lower calorie meals, this is difficult to do when fasting. Plan ahead if at all feasible, and eat low-sodium meals in the days leading up to and after your fast food lunch. You can mitigate some of the damage, though, by asking for your burger or meat to be cooked without salt.
Making Healthiest fast food choices on the go
It’s easier to make better fast food selections if you prepare ahead and consult the nutritional information available on most chains’ websites. If you don’t have time to plan ahead, you may still make better decisions by following a few simple recommendations.
Healthiest fast food ordering guidelines
Keep your eye on portion size:
In the presence of a single serving, many fast-food meals deliver enough nourishment for numerous meals. When it comes to sandwiches, burgers, and sides, avoid supersized and value-sized meals and opt for the smallest size. On the children’s menu, you’ll find more manageable portions.
Focus on grilled or roasted lean meats:
Crispy chicken sandwiches and breaded fish fillets are examples of fried and breaded foods to avoid. Instead, choose turkey, chicken breast, lean ham, or lean roast beef. The finest option is usually grilled skinless chicken.
Pay attention to the descriptions on the menu:
Deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, or au gratin dishes are typically heavy in calories, bad fats, and sodium. Items in Alfredo or cream sauce are the same way.
Don’t be afraid to special order:
With a few adjustments and substitutions, many menu items can be made healthier. You can, for example, request that the sauce or dressing be held or served on the side. Alternatively, you can have your hamburger on a wheat bun or your sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Don’t assume that healthy-sounding dishes are always your best option:
Don’t always assume that healthy-sounding dishes are the best choice. Many fast-food salads, for example, are coated with high-fat dressing and fried toppings, making them a diet minefield. This is where checking the nutritional information before placing a purchase can make a big impact.
Tips for keeping fast food calories under control
Be careful when it comes to condiments and dressings:
When selecting things, keep in mind that salad dressings, spreads, sauces, and sides like sour cream are high in calories and fat. Sauces made with mayonnaise or oil, in particular, are high in calories. Instead of mayo, ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard that you can add yourself, allowing you to control how much you put on your sandwich.
Stick to zero-calorie beverages:
Soda is a big source of calories that go unnoticed. A large drink contains roughly 300 calories, which can quickly consume a significant percentage of your daily calorie intake. Even worse are shakes, which can contain up to 800 calories and a day’s worth of saturated fat. Don’t be deceived by lemonade or fruit drinks, which are high in calories and sugar but low in nutrients. Instead, choose water, diet Coke, or unsweetened tea.
Be wise about sides:
Keep an eye out for menu options that include one or more side dishes. Fries, chips, rice, noodles, onion rings, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, and mashed potatoes with gravy are all high-calorie side dishes. Side salads with light dressing, baked potatoes (with few toppings), fresh fruit cups, corn on the cob, or apple slices are all better bets.
Pass on the French fries:
Are those fries really necessary? A sandwich or burger should be sufficient in terms of filling. Alternatively, if your meal isn’t complete without fries, go for the smallest size (which can be 400 calories less than a large serving).
Skip the bacon:
It’s always tempting to top sandwiches and salads with bacon for added flavor, but bacon is low in nutrients and high in fat and calories. To add flavor without the fat, order extra pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, or mustard.
Healthiest fast food at burger chains
A standard fast-food lunch, consisting of a burger, fries, and a drink, can easily exceed a day’s worth of calories. That’s a formula for disaster in terms of nutrition (and weight loss). Many fast-food burgers contain between 1,000 and 2,000 calories, especially when piled with extra patties, bacon, and cheese.
Portion sizes and high-fat toppings and sides should be avoided if you want to keep calories and fat low. From fries to a drink or a shake, anything you add to your meal counts.
Tips for making healthier choices at fast food burger joints:
Stick to a single hamburger patty:
There will be no double or triple burgers! Two or three beef patties in a burger contribute a lot of calories and harmful fat (up to 800 calories and 40 grams of fat).
Hold or go light on the mayonnaise:
You can burn about 100 calories this way. If you want a stronger flavor, add more ketchup or mustard.
Go easy on special sauces, which add a lot of calories:
If you don’t want to go without the sauce, ask for it on the side. It’s true that a little goes a long way.
Say no to bacon, cheese, onion rings, and other calorie-laden burger toppings:
Extra pickles or heart-healthy avocado might be used to provide some interest.
Ask about no-meat burger or sandwich options:
Burger King’s vegetable burger or In-N-Out Burger’s grilled cheese are two examples.
Skip the fries:
You’ll save hundreds of calories (a large McDonald’s fries has 510 calories, a medium has 340 calories).
Check out the kid’s menu.:
Burgers in junior and children’s sizes often have 250-300 calories, making them a healthier option.
Healthiest fast food at chicken chains
Chicken may appear to be a healthier option than beef, but this isn’t always the case when it comes to fast food. Many chicken chain menu items have more fat and sodium than a burger. That’s not to suggest you can’t find healthier alternatives, but chicken isn’t synonymous with “healthy.”
It also affects what kind of meat you order. The chicken breast has the most calories, followed by the thigh. Chicken wings and drumsticks have reduced calorie content, making them healthier options. If you enjoy breast meat, removing the skin will make it healthier.
Tips for making smarter choices at fast food chicken restaurants:
Choose baked, broiled, or grilled chicken over fried or breaded chicken:
Don’t even consider chicken nuggets, which have the same amount of fat and sodium as a burger.
Go easy on the honey mustard, barbecue sauce, and other special sauces:
Each sauce packet contains approximately 60 calories.
Be wary of sides:
When it comes to chicken, the sides are half the fun: coleslaw, biscuits, baked beans, mac ‘n cheese, and mashed potatoes. However, these common side dishes are all rich in calories, so keep that in mind while planning your dinner.
Pass on the crispy chicken sandwich:
The crispy chicken sandwich is good, but it’s fried and fatty, so skip it. A grilled chicken sandwich is a much better option. To make it even healthier, get it without the skin.
Healthiest fast food at Mexican chains
Mexican fast-food restaurants are an excellent place to go if you’re looking for nutritious fast cuisine. However, they can be calorie traps, especially when it comes to burritos, nachos, and other cheese-heavy foods. Portion control is also vital, as many Mexican fast food items have massive serving sizes. Simply eat half and take the remainder home for your next meal to enjoy what you want without blowing your diet.
Taco Bell and Baja Fresh, for example, both provide “healthy” menu alternatives that are reduced in fat and calories. Healthy options, such as whole-wheat tortillas and fresh veggies, are also available at Chipotle and Taco Del Mar.
Tips for making smarter choices at Mexican fast food restaurants:
- Don’t overdo it with the rice and beans (including in your burrito). Hundreds of calories are added to your meal by these carbs.
- Sour cream can add 100-200 calories to a dish. Add avocado or guacamole for a healthier option.
- Chips must be avoided. They add hundreds of calories and sodium that you don’t need (285 calories for a Chipotle 12-inch burrito).
- Look for fish dishes with a Baja flair. As long as it isn’t fried, fish is usually the healthiest meat option.
- Choose soft tortillas. Soft tortillas, whether made of flour or maize, have less fat and calories than crispy, deep-fried shells. Soft corn tortillas are often better for you than soft flour tortillas.
- Try to keep the cheese in your hand. You might be amazed at how little it makes a difference in your burrito or taco, yet it can save you over 100 calories.
- Fill up on fajita vegetables. Adding them to your burrito or burrito bowl is a quick and easy method to boost flavour while also providing heart-healthy vitamins and phytochemicals.
Healthiest-Fast-Food Mexican options
|Crispy shell taco||Soft taco|
|Ground beef or steak||Grilled fish or chicken|
|Refried beans or pinto beans||Black beans|
|Crunch wraps or gordita-type burritos||Grilled “fresco” style steak burrito|
|Beef or steak burrito||Veggie and bean burrito|
Healthiest fast food at sandwich chains
Sub sandwiches come to mind for many people when they think of “healthy” fast food, thanks to Subway. While it is true that the top sandwich companies provide some reasonably healthy options, their menus are not without flaws. While advertisements for sandwich shops tout their health benefits, studies show that many consumers consume more calories per meal at a sub shop than at McDonald’s. This could be because individuals feel so good about themselves for eating “healthy,” as the advertising claim, that they reward themselves with chips, sodas, or extra condiments that can make a healthy meal unhealthy. At a deli or sub shop, you may select healthier choices if you use common sense.
Tips for making smarter choices at sandwich fast food joints:
- Choose the lesser size of subs. You can save 500-700 calories by ordering a 6-inch sub instead of a foot-long.
- Instead of white bread, French rolls, or cheese breads, choose whole-grain buns or bread.
- Keep the mayonnaise and condiments to a minimum. By asking for condiments on the side, you can save even more calories.
- Instead of mayonnaise and calorie-dense special sauces, season your sandwich with mustard, vinegar, or low-fat dressing.
- Reduce the amount of cheese you use, or better yet, leave it out entirely.
- At lunch, eat half of the sandwich and reserve the other half for later.
- Tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, green and red peppers, and olives are all good additions.
- Remove the chips from the equation. On the side, get something healthier like an apple, a small side salad, or yoghurt.
Healthier fast food sandwich options
|Foot-long sub||Six-inch sub|
|High-fat meat such as ham, tuna salad, bacon, meatballs, or steak||Lean meat (roast beef, chicken breast, lean ham) or veggies|
|The “normal” amount of higher-fat (cheddar, American) cheese||One or two slices of lower-fat cheese (Swiss or mozzarella)|
|Keeping the sub “as is” with all toppings||Subbing out cheese and meat for extra veggie toppings|
|Choosing white bread or “wraps” which are often higher in fat than normal bread||Choosing whole-grain bread or taking the top slice off your sub and eating it open-faced|
Healthiest fast food at pizza chains
Pizza isn’t seen as a healthy option and with good reason. It’s heavy in calories and usually contains fatty meats and cheese that aren’t particularly nutritious. Two slices of pizza can easily pack in 600 calories and a day’s worth of sodium. However, you can have pizza every now and then without completely ruining your good eating habits. However, because there’s no way to prevent the high salt content of pizza, aim to minimize your sodium intake in the days leading up to and after your pizza adventure.
It’s also crucial to keep track of portion proportions. This involves reducing your slice consumption, but not all slices are created equal. Be advised that a large slice of pizza is nearly 40% larger than a medium piece, resulting in an increase in calories. Don’t be deceived by the personal pan pizzas, which can have upwards of 800 calories. If you do decide on a personal pizza, only eat half of it and reserve the rest for later.
Tips for making smarter choices at pizza joints:
- Instead of usual crust, order thin crust (and avoid deep-dish or pan pizza). Thin crust is the healthiest alternative, as well as the most authentic version of an original Italian pie.
- Choose mild cheese for your pizza. A small amount of cheese may go a long way! You can also use lower-calorie ricotta cheese instead of mozzarella. Don’t order any extra cheese, at the very least.
- Veggie toppings should be piled high on your pizza. Tomato, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, artichoke, garlic, onion, and broccoli are all healthful options at most chains.
- Pepperoni, bacon, sausage, Philly meat, ham, and beef are all high-fat meat toppings to avoid. If you absolutely must eat meat, choose chicken.
- Avoid pasta, which has a lower nutritional value than fast food pizza. Fast food pasta meals typically consist of a large quantity of refined-carb noodles and meaty sauces.
- Sides can be skipped. Garlic knots, mozzarella sticks, and cheesy bread all off the menu. You’ll lose a lot of weight by reducing your calorie, carb, and fat intake.
Healthiest Fast Food Pizza And Italian Fast Food Options
|Cheese-filled or deep-dish pizza||Thin-crust pizza (whole-wheat, if available)|
|Meat lover’s pizza||Veggie lover’s pizza|
|Pepperoni, meatballs, or sausage toppings||Chicken|
|Bacon||Canadian bacon (60% less fat than regular bacon)|
|Garlic or “cheesy” bread||Plain rolls or breadsticks|
Healthiest fast food at Asian chains
Asian fast food may appear to be a healthier option than a burger or a fast-food sandwich. After all, you can generally find a sufficient supply of vegetables. If you’re not attentive, however, you could wind up with a meal that’s far higher in calories and fat than you think. You may limit the diet-busting effects by being selective about what you choose, but Asian fast food is notoriously heavy in sodium. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it, so Asian fast food is better enjoyed on occasion rather than as a regular habit.
Tips for making smarter choices at Asian fast food restaurants:
- Rice is high in carbs and calories, so go easy on it. Fried rice is heavy in fat, calories, and sodium, so avoid it. Steamed white rice, and much better, brown rice, is a more healthier option.
- Limit your noodle intake. Fried Asian noodles are high in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, and fat, as well as being harmful. Avoid lo mein, chow mein, and chow fun completely, or limit yourself to modest servings.
- Pork meals are higher in fat than other meat selections, so avoid them.
- Dishes with a lot of sauce, such orange chicken and Beijing beef, should be avoided. Anything featuring the words General Tso’s, Kung Pao, BBQ, or Sweet and Sour in the name should be avoided. These sauces are heavy in sugar and calories.
- Fried wontons, egg rolls, tempura, BBQ spareribs, and crab Rangoon are among the fatty, deep-fried sides to avoid.
- Make use of your chopsticks! Because you can’t grasp as much food with them at once as you can with a regular fork and knife, you’ll eat more slowly.
Asian Healthiest fast food options
|Deep-fried starters (egg rolls, tempura, fried wontons, etc.)||Soup (good choices include egg drop, miso, wonton, or hot & sour soup)|
|Battered or deep-fried dishes (sweet and sour pork, General Tso’s chicken)||Stir-fried, steamed, roasted, or broiled dishes (chow mein, chop suey)|
|Fried rice||Steamed rice (brown instead of white rice, if that’s an option)|
|Sweet and sour sauce or regular soy sauce||Hot chili sauce (a little goes a long way) or low-sodium soy sauce|
|Meat-based dishes||Vegetable-based dishes|
Healthiest fast food breakfasts
We all know how important a nutritious breakfast is, but it’s also the meal for which we usually don’t have enough time. While fast food isn’t the healthiest option, it can be the handiest when you’re late for work or school.
Many fast-food breakfasts, on the other hand, include enough saturated fat for three days and a full day’s worth of fat. Sodium levels in many morning foods are likewise ridiculously high (even non-salty baked goods such as pastries and muffins). That’s not to mention the calories, which can easily exceed 1,000. However, most menus provide healthier options. The idea is to seek foods that are high in fiber and protein, as this will make them more filling and fulfilling, yet low in fat.
Tips for making smarter fast food breakfast choices:
- Sausage, bacon, and steak should be avoided. These meats have a lot of fat in them. Turkey, Canadian bacon, and ham are some of the leaner breakfast meat options.
- When it comes to baked foods, be cautious. Most breakfast pastries, loaves, and muffins are high in sugar, but they are also high in sodium.
- Concentrate on fibre. Bran muffins, oatmeal, and granola are all good options. Just keep an eye out for too much sugar.
- Keep the cheese and breakfast sauces to a minimum. To keep the calories low, ask for the sauce on the side.
- No, the breakfast burrito is not for you. These diet-busters are typically high in carbohydrates, calories, sodium, and fat.
- Biscuits should be replaced with toast or English muffins. Biscuits have more calories and fat per serving than toast or English muffins.
Healthiest Fast Food Breakfast Options
|Bagel with cream cheese||English muffin with butter|
|Egg on a biscuit||Egg on wheat toast|
|Donut or pastry||Low-fat bran muffin|
|Smoothie||Yogurt with granola and fruit|
|French toast sticks or cinnamon roll||Oatmeal|