Let’s face it. We all love fast food in some capacity. It’s cheap, convenient, filling and tastes good. However, most fast foods are low in nutrition and high in trans fat, saturated fat, sodium and calories. A decade ago, it would be hard to find anything remotely healthy at your local McDonalds or Burger King. However, fast food restaurants have been recently cutting out trans fats and loading up on fresh ingredients to combat the obesity epidemic and to create a healthier environment. Nowadays, you can actually get a pretty healthy meal at your local fast food joint. You just got to be smart about it.
Here are the top 12 most popular fast food chains in America and what we believe is the healthiest meal that you can order from each:
You can never go wrong with grilled chicken. The Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich packs on 28 grams of protein. You should ditch the mayo because you’ll save about 6 grams of fat and 50 calories, bringing it down to 300 calories for the sandwich. If you cut out the bun then you’ll lose an additional 100 calories, 20 grams of carbs and 165 milligrams of sodium.
You can also indulge in a tasty fruit and walnuts with only 210 calories and a low 60 milligrams of sodium.
Don’t be fooled by the “6 grams of fat or less” menu. Although the healthiest choices are indeed on that menu, some of those options are crazy-high in sodium. Not to mention, none of them include cheese.
Stick with ordering turkey breast on nine-grain wheat bread. Although the sodium is going to be high, the fat is much lower than the other sandwiches. Skip the cheese and fatty condiments and pile on veggies to make this a healthier sandwich. If you love a good condiment, try the fat-free honey mustard. The whole sandwich should be around 310 calories, 3 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein.
Between cookies, bagged apple slices, and chips, this should be an easy choice. Order a yogurt parfait since it has almost no fat and six grams of protein.
Just a few years ago, Starbucks removed about 90% of their food offerings, removing High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives whenever possible. Even though Starbucks will be forever known for its beverages, its food choices are growing in nature.
The Egg-White, Spinach and Feta Wrap is a good breakfast choice at a low 280 calories and 10 grams of fat. It also has 18 grams of protein with 33 grams of carbs, a good protein to carb ratio for added energy in the morning.
If you want a cup of coffee with your meal, remember to take it black. If you insist on adding some milk and sugar then do it yourself. Add skim milk and a little sugar. Don’t ask them to put the milk and sugar in there. Did you know a small iced coffee from Starbucks can contain almost 20 grams of sugar?
Chili is a rich in protein and fiber with numerous vitamins and minerals. Wendy’s is one of the only major fast-food chains with chili on its menu. A large bowl of chili contains 310 calories, 9 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. However, this meal has over 1330 milligrams of sodium. For this reason, make sure to limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day.
Add some Apple Slices for 90% Vitamin C with very little calories or fat.
The Whopper JR. sandwich has a respectable 340 calories, 19 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein. Lose the pickles and the mayo and you’ll trim 80 calories, 8 grams of fat and 180 milligrams of sodium.
Add a garden side salad for an additional 40 calories with barely any fat or cholesterol. Not to mention, you’ll get plenty of nutrition from eating your vegetables!
The Chicken Fresco Burrito Supreme packs 17 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber with only about 23% of calories from fat, making it a respectable meal. However, it’s very high in sodium and carbohydrates so make sure to limit them throughout the day.
Similar to the Egg-White, Spinach and Feta Wrap from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts makes the Egg White Veggie Flatbread with 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein. It has about the same nutritional facts as the Starbucks meal but has about 25% less sodium.
Drink your coffee black. Add your own sugar and milk. Try skim milk and a little sugar. Don’t ask them to put the milk and sugar in there. Even a small iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts can contain almost 20 grams of sugar!
2 slices of the 12″ Fit ‘N Delicious Pizza with Diced Chicken, Red Onion, and Green Pepper have just 340 calories and 9 grams of fat. It has thin crust, lean chicken, and vegetable toppings, plus half the cheese of the regular Thin ‘N Crispy Pizza. A good choice for pizza lovers.
There are a lot more healthy options at KFC than you think. Known mainly for its fried chicken, KFC also has plenty of grilled options.
Stick with a grilled chicken drumstick. The drumstick is half the calories and fat as the breast, thigh or wing. Add some mashed potatoes (ditch the gravy) and green beans, you’re looking at a pretty healthy meal. While this meal is high in sodium, it’s low in fat and calories. At around 200 calories with 7 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein, you can’t go wrong with this choice. Just make sure to stay away from the deserts!
Ordering the Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Fruit Cup from Chick-fil-A is one of the healthiest fast food meals out there. At 340 calories with just 4 grams of fat and 28 grams of protein, you’re looking at a nice meal.
Sonic doesn’t have as many healthy alternatives as the others. However, the Jr. Deluxe Burger has 360 calories and 20 grams of fat with 15 grams of protein, making it one of the healthier options on the menu.
2 slices of the Crunchy Thin Crust Pizza has 310 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat with a respectable 6 grams of protein. Certainly the healthiest item on the menu.
Disclaimer – I do not guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional facts of these meals. Statistics were gathered from the company’s website and/or other sources that I deemed credible. This list is strictly my opinion on what is the healthiest meal.