Are there any fast food choices that are healthy?

That depends on how you define “healthy.”

I like to think of healthier foods as foods that are relatively low in calories, but contain plenty of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) per calorie. I wouldn’t expect to obtain a ton of micronutrients from fast food, but as long as you aren’t eating fast food for every meal, you have the opportunity to get plenty of nutrients from other meals.

The bigger problem with fast food is that many menu items typically contain way too many calories (usually in the form of high-fat foods). When you choose these menu items, it’s easy to put yourself into a calorie surplus, making it more difficult to lose weight and easier to gain weight over time.

That said, there are certainly some fast food options that are relatively low in calories and more macro-friendly than others.

I’m not just talking about salads either. I’m not a huge fan of ordering salads at drive-thru fast food restaurants because if I wanted a salad, I’d rather get one from a fast-casual place like Panera or Chipotle.

My suggestion when it comes to drive-thru fast food is to order a sandwich on its own. If you choose not to order fries and a soda with your meal, you will make your meal much lower in calories.

Here are four of my favorite fast food sandwich choices under 400 calories:

#4: McDonald’s McDouble[1]

  • 380 calories
  • 23g protein
  • 18g fat
  • 34g carbs

McDouble

Why I like it:

Sometimes, you just feel like a burger and this one comes relatively guilt-free. With two beef patties, you get a decent amount of protein. You can eat a couple of these and still come in lower in calories than a giant single-patty “monster” burger at some other fast food places like Hardee’s.

#3: Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich[2]

  • 360 calories
  • 35g protein
  • 8g fat
  • 38g carbs

WendysGrilledChicken

Why I like it:

Unlike other fast food places, Wendy’s makes everything fresh and you can taste the difference. Their chicken sandwiches are some of their best menu items and even though it’s simple, this one is a winner. I also like that they offer healthier side options. You can substitute fries for a baked potato or small chili, which is a great strategy for a healthier “full-sized” fast food meal.

#2: Subway Oven Roasted Chicken (6 in)[3]

  • 320 calories
  • 23g protein
  • 5g fat
  • 46g carbs

SubwayOvenRoastedChicken

Why I like it:

This fills me up more than any of the other three options I’ve listed. I like Subway, in general, because you can load up your sub with a ton of veggies for a negligible amount of extra calories.

#1: Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap[4]

  • 350 calories
  • 37g protein
  • 14g fat
  • 29g carbs

CFAGrilledCoolWrap

Why I like it:

This is my go-to fast food sandwich right now. It has the best macro profile of any fast food menu item I’ve come across with 37g protein and 29g carbs. The flaxseed flour flat bread wrap also adds a whopping 15g fiber which is amazing. It tastes great and is pretty filling.

Warning: the avocado lime ranch that comes with this is DELICIOUS, but DON’T eat all of it because it will double your total calories.

Yeah, the dressing is that good, but that bad for you. What I like to do instead is squeeze a tiny drop with each bite. A little goes a long way. You’ll consume maybe a quarter of the packet (and calories) and you still get plenty of flavor. Another alternative is to opt for a lower-calorie dressing like honey mustard.

Don’t automatically discount fast food as “bad.”

When you make food choices like this, I’d even go as far as to say you can eat fast food fairly regularly while managing your weight and staying healthy as long as you are eating plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole foods with other meals.

Footnotes:

[1] McDouble® | McDonald’s

[2] Grilled Chicken Sandwich

[3] Oven Roasted Chicken

[4] Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap

First published on Quora.


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