Monday, December 13, 2010

Diet-Friendly Fast Foods

Okay, you read the title and I already know what some of you nutrition freaks, like myself, are thinking, "Diet-friendly fast food?! Get real! No such thing!" Believe me, I know where you're coming from. I'm a big believer in not eating out. The fact remains that the majority of fast foods are processed foods filled with fats, preservatives, sugars, and lots of other bad for you words. But to my surprise, after doing a little research, I discovered that there are actually a fair amount of healthy, low-calorie, diet-friendly fast food options out there. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still not a real fan of eating fast-food. Cooking your own healthy dishes is definitely the best option. But I do realize that not everyone has the time to invest in cooking due to busy schedules. Some would argue that you have to make the time, but what happens when there simply is no time? Some people's schedules are really that jam packed! Also, everyone gets tired of cooking from time to time, including myself, and even if you love cooking there are going to be times when you're tired of eating your own home cooked foods. In other words, eating fast-food from time to time is inevitable. Personally, I allow myself one "cheat day" a week, 6 days out of the week I cook at home but there's one day that I eat out. I usually limit it to healthier options, such as Subway or certain Chinese food dishes, but now after discovering these new diet-friendly fast food options I can now add some variety to my menu! So here goes...

The 22 Healthiest Fast Foods

What to Order at America's Top 10 Fast Food Joints

No one can say that McDonald’s isn’t convenient—you can find one on just about every corner in some cities. But can it be healthy, too? I wouldn't have thought so, but it all depends on what you choose.
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich: When you hold the mayo, you'll save calories and fat.
    370 calorie
    Publish Post
    s, 4.5g fat, 1g sat. fat, 65mg cholesterol, 1,110mg sodium, 50g carbs, 3g fiber, 32g protein
  • Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken: The majority of the fat in this flavorful salad comes from the almonds, and the Asian Blend contains veggies and soybeans, making it heart-healthy.
    300 calories, 10g fat, 1g sat. fat, 65mg cholesterol, 890mg sodium, 23g carbs, 5g fiber, 32g protein
  • Fruit and Yogurt Parfait: If you’re looking for a sweet treat, this is a winner. Made with low-fat yogurt and topped with low fat granola, strawberries and blueberries, it’s far less sinful but just as tasty as ice cream.
    160 calories, 2g fat, 1g sat. fat, 5mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 31g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g protein 
Visit for more healthy ideas. 

    Who would have ever though Wendy's could be healthy? Not me! Well, I was wrong. Try these best picks for your next lunch on the run.
    • Mandarin Chicken Salad: A variety of lettuces and toppings, like roasted almonds and crispy noodles, make this salad a flavor-packed meal. Most of the fat is unsaturated.
      540 calories, 25g fat, 3g sat. fat, 65mg cholesterol, 1,260mg sodium, 50g carbs, 5g fiber, 31g protein
    • Ultimate Chicken Grill: Order it with lettuce, tomatoes, and honey mustard sauce.
      320 calories, 7g fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 70mg cholesterol, 950mg sodium, 36g carbs, 2g fiber, 28g protein 
    Get more nutrition facts at

      Burger King
      A salad and veggie burger top the healthy list at Burger King.
      • Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad: Hold the cheese and top with the Light Italian dressing:
        300 calories, 16g fat, 2.5g sat. fat, 70mg cholesterol, 1,050mg sodium, 13g carbs, 5g fiber, 33g protein
      • BK Veggie Burger: Say "no mayo" to enjoy this healthy, cholesterol-free vegetarian delight.
        340 calories, 8g fat, 1g sat. fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1,030mg sodium, 46g carbs, 7g fiber, 23g protein 
      Their website,, offers more nutrition information. 

        Taco Bell
        When you order it “fresco style”, the regular cheese and sauce are replaced by a flavorful combo of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, all fresh (and much healthier).
        • Fresco Style Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco:
          170 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 25mg cholesterol, 730mg sodium, 21g carbs, 3g fiber, 12g protein
        • Fresco Crunchy Taco: This menu item is much lower in sodium but still loaded with flavor.
          150 calories, 8g fat, 2.5g sat. fat, 20mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 13g carbs, 3g fiber, 7g protein. 
        More nutrition facts are available at

          Subway (my personal fav!)
          Good old Jared and his subway diet brought Subway restaurants recognition as one fast food joint with lots of healthy options. Sandwiches from the Subway "Fresh Fit" menu each have fewer than 6 grams of fat.
          • 6" Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast:
            310 calories, 5g fat, 25mg cholesterol, 830mg sodium, 5g fiber
          • 6" Veggie Delite: A great option for vegetarian diners or for those watching their cholesterol. Order it on Italian bread and it’s vegan, too.
            230 calories, 3g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 500mg sodium, 5g fiber
          • Soups: If you’re really hungry, pair your sandwich with one of the healthier Subway Soups. Each restaurant features two soups daily, and the ones listed below each contain 160 calories or fewer: Cream of Broccoli, Minestrone, New England Style Clam Chowder, Roasted Chicken Noodle, Spanish Style Chicken with Rice, Tomato Garden Vegetable with Rotini, and Vegetable Beef. 
          Visit for more information. 

            A lot of people are led to believe that Arby's, in general, is a pretty healthy choice for fast food, but for the healthiest fare, steer clear of the roast beef sandwiches altogether.
            • Martha’s Vineyard Salad:
              466 calories, 23g fat, 6g sat. fat, 61mg cholesterol, 996mg sodium, 43g carbs, 4g fiber, 22g protein 
            Visit their website, to see more choices. 

              Although their fried chicken isn’t health food (not even by a long shot), KFC does have some healthy options on their menu.
              • Honey BBQ Sandwich:
                280 calories, 3.5g fat, 1g sat. fat, 60mg cholesterol, 780mg sodium, 40g carbs, 3g fiber, 22g protein
              • Tender Roast Sandwich: Hold the sauce.
                300 calories, 4.5g fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 70mg cholesterol, 1,060mg sodium, 28g carbs, 2g fiber, 37g protein
              • Roasted Caesar Salad: Hold the croutons, and top it with fat-free ranch dressing.
                250 calories, 8g fat, 4.5g sat. fat, 70mg cholesterol, 1,240 mg sodium, 14g carbs, 3g fiber, 31g protein 
              Get more nutrition facts at

                Just because it isn't beef doesn't mean it's always better—especially when the chicken is breaded and fried. Try the items below.
                • Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich:
                  270 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 50mg cholesterol, 1,260mg sodium, 37g carbs, 4g fiber, 28g protein
                • Chargrilled and Fruit Salad: Top with reduced fat berry balsamic vinaigrette.
                  290 calories, 8g fat, 3.5g sat. fat, 65mg cholesterol, 760mg sodium, 32g carbs, 5g fiber, 22g protein 
                See all the facts at

                  Jack in the Box
                  Now Jack in the Box has to be one of the worst fast food places out there, who would ever believe it could contain anything healthy?!? Whole grains, from this fast food joint? Believe it! 
                  • Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken Strips:
                    160 calories, 1.5g fat, 0g sat. fat, 65mg cholesterol, 380mg sodium, 18g carbs, 5g fiber, 22g protein
                  • Chicken Fajita Pita: The pita is made with whole grains, which are rarely seen at fast food restaurants. Hold the salsa.
                    300 calories, 9g fat, 3.5g sat. fat,60mg cholesterol, 1,090mg sodium, 33g carbs, 4g fiber, 23g protein 
                  Visit for more menu items. 

                    Carl’s Jr.
                    Steer clear of big, meaty burgers and try these chicken options instead.
                    • Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich:
                      360 calories, 4.5g fat, 1g sat. fat, 60mg cholesterol, 1,150mg sodium, 48g carbs, 4g fiber, 34g protein
                    • Charbroiled Chicken Salad: Choose the low-fat balsamic dressing.
                      295 calories, 8.5g fat, 3.5g sat. fat, 75mg cholesterol, 1,190mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g fiber, 34g protein 
                    See the Carl's Jr. Website, for more nutrition information.

                    So it turns out that dining at a fast food restaurant doesn’t have to be a diet disaster. Use this list as a guide, or visit the websites provided to tally up totals for your preferred favorites. Just remember that these selections are healthier options for the occasional fast-food meal, but they may have other nutritional flaws (like high sodium), so you might not want to make it a regular part of your nutrition plan. So every once in awhile, enjoy eating some fast-food! Diet-friendly fast-food... who knew? :)

                    Source(s): "The 22 HealthiestFast Foods: What to Order at America's Top Fast Food Joints" by Liza Barnes, Health Educator, article - 

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