The weekend road trip, an upcoming spring break romp, or a lengthy summer adventure — any and all of these will include a stop at an interstate “easy on, easy off” fast food restaurant. You don’t have to succumb to the large fries each time. Here are the less-famous healthy fast food choices that will keep you around the 300-calorie mark for each meal.
McDonald’s has long been the pariah of the fast-food industry, but they’ve done the most to create healthy options and make all nutritional facts easily available. Their site is the most intuitive and transparent. It’s still up to YOU to make a healthy order while smelling those fries sizzling in grease.
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal: 340 caloriesFruit ‘n’ Yogurt Parfait: 150 caloriesFruit & Walnuts: 210 caloriesEgg McMuffin: 210 calories (but contains 33% of your daily sodium)Sausage Burrito: 300 caloriesHash Browns: 150 calories eachSmall Orange Juice: 150 calories
Premium Caesar Salad: 90 calories (add 100 for chicken)Premium Southwest Chicken & Bacon Ranch Salads: 140 calories eachChicken McNuggets: 190 caloriesSnack Wraps: 250-270 calories, depending on sauce (add 80 calories for crispy chicken)Hamburger: 250 calories (add 50 calories for cheese)Small Fries: 230 calories (yes, SMALL fries)Baked Apple Pie: 250 caloriesReal Fruit Smoothies: 200-220 caloriesRoast Iced Coffee: 140 caloriesIced Mocha Drinks: 280-290 calories
The nutritional site for Wendy’s is bold, colorful, and not as easy to choose and access each food choice — though the “add to order” click delivers a handy chart to comprehensively see how the meal stacks up. Breakfast options are not yet available on the nutritional menu.
Jr. Hamburger: 250 calories6-piece Spicy Chicken Nuggets: 280 calories4-piece Chicken Nuggets: 180 caloriesSmall Chocolate Frosty: 300 caloriesGrilled Chicken Go Wrap: 270 caloriesValue French Fries: 230 caloriesSour Cream & Chive Potato: 320 calories (get the sour cream o.t.s. and you’ll cut this down)Apple Slices: 40 calories
Chick-fil-A’s nutritional information is the most helpful from a lifestyle perspective. They offer advice about planning your meal ahead of time, and also link to suggested menu options for low-cal, low-fat and low-carb eating.
Here are the snapshots of their low-cal suggestions.
Arby’s offers both a Meal Builder and an at-a-glance nutritional chart .pdf. Their famous Classic Roast Beef sandwich is below 400 calories, but adding sauce or bumping up to any other roast beef sandwich takes most lunch/dinner options out of the “healthy serving” range.
Turkey Classic: 280 caloriesChopped Farmhouse Salad w/Roast Turkey: 230 caloriesSide Salad: 70 calories (dressings range from 20-210 calories. Whoa.)Jr. Roast Beef Sandwich: 210 caloriesJr. Ham & Cheddar Melt: 210 caloriesJr. Chicken Sandwich: 310 caloriesCurly Fries (value size): 240 caloriesJr. Vanilla Shake: 280 caloriesApple Slices: 35 calories
While I don’t stress about calorie counting, I do know how I feel when I order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Large Fries, and Coke Vs. a Snack Wrap, Side Salad, and Water. If you are a calorie counter, you know that these options aren’t perfect but are better than the meal deals. Even if you don’t count calories in advance, make up your mind toward healthy fast food choices before pulling up to the drive-through window or standing at the counter and (call on your willpower!) smelling those terrible, terribly yummy french fries.
Safe and healthy travels to you!