The healthiest fast food options can help you stay on track even on a busy day. While it would be great if we could always adapt to life’s crazy circumstances with a fully prepped meal of chicken breast with green beans and quinoa, most of us don’t live like that.
So it’s important to weed through marketing and choose the best options in the drive-thru. For example, you’re better off eating a Big Mac and some fries versus Subway’s Bacon Ranch Footlong even though Subway is marketed to be healthier. Same goes for places like Panera Bread. Just because they have a certain branding tactic doesn’t mean their foods pack the best bang for your buck.
What’s on the list?
This list actually started as a print-out for my dad. He’s a realtor and always on the run. He also was about 265lb when I made this printable for him. Since then he’s lost 100lbs and maintains about a 75lb loss.
With it being a list for him, I knew I couldn’t just include salads or expect him to go to a restaurant somewhere. So you’ll see a lot of burgers and sandwiches even a pizza or two!
I included Chick Fil A, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Sonic, Pizza Hut and Subway because they are his favorites. The nutritional information I included was calories and fat to maintain a healthier choice, and I also included fiber and protein to keep him feeling full.
What if it’s not on the list?
There are awesome tools out their now on your phone. I love myfitnesspal as an app or a website to see what my best choices would be. You can also see the calories for various healthiest fast food options now right on the drive-thru menu.
Two More Tips
It’s important to remember fast food is typically composed of cheap ingredients that need to taste good and also stay fresh a long time. The way these big companies do that is with sodium. With just 1 or 2 of these options, a person will meet his or her daily allowance of sodium.
Which leads me to my second point – even the healthiest fast food options are still fast food. They aren’t going to contain the same nutritional value of real, whole foods.
A few quick snacks you could have to tide you over from the drive-thru could be:
- almonds with a mozzarella stick and cherry tomatoes
- apple with peanut butter
- hummus with carrots.
2 Healthy Ready-to-Go Dinners
Instead of swinging into the drive-thru for dinner, I will often times go to the grocery store instead to pick up ready-made options. I will do a rotisserie chicken with Bob Evans’ pre-made mash potatoes and a side of frozen veggies I can microwave quickly.
Another option is getting pulled pork. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had local barbecue with vinegar sauce and Popchips for dinner.
Are their healthier options out there? Of course! This is just all about finding what will be the best when you’re tired, craving something good, and just don’t have the time or energy to cook.
If you’re curious on the health side effects of fast food, Fast Food Nation is a great book and Super Size Me is a great movie.
Even the healthiest fast food options should be used sparingly and can’t make up for a good diet. I follow this meal plan, and it still allows me the freedom of a Chick Fil A sandwich or Snickers bar here and there.
Healthiest Fast Food Options
Chick Fil A
- Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich 270 Calories 3.5 Fat 3 Fiber 28 Protein
- Chick-fil-A® Chicken Salad Sandwich 350 Calories 15g Fat 5 Fiber 20 Protein
- Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips® (6- count) 310 Calories 15g Fat 1 Fiber 28 Protein
- Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap 410 Calories 12g Fat 8 Fiber 35 Protein
- Chargrilled Chicken Cool Wrap 410 Calories 12g Fat 8 Fiber 34 Protein
- Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips® Salad 400 Calories 20g Fat 4 Fiber 34 Protein
- Chick-fil-A® Southwest Chargrilled Salad 240 Calories 8g Fat 5 Fiber 25 Protein
- Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad 180 Calories 6g Fat 3 Fiber 22 Protein
- Fruit Cup (medium) 70 Calories 0g Fat 2 Fiber 1 Protein
- Carrot & Raisin Salad (small) 170 Calories 6g Fat 2 Fiber 1 Protein
- Cole Slaw (small) 180 Calories 21g Fat 2 Fiber 2 Protein
- Chicken Salad Cup 270 Calories 18g Fat 4 Fiber 19 Protein
- Icedream® Cup (small cup) 240 Calories 6g Fat 0 Fiber 6 Protein
- Icedream® Cone (small cone) 160 Calories 4g 4protein
If you’re craving something sweet a Jr. Frosty! is about 160 calories for Chocolate and 150 calories for Vanilla. If you can, it’s best to skip the fries. A small fry has 330 calories in it!
- Single with Everything 430 Calories 20gFat 2 Fiber 25Protein
- Ultimate Chicken Grilled Sandwich 320 Calories 7gFat 2 Fiber 28Protein
- Spicy Chicken Filet Sandwich 440 Calories 16gFat 3 Fiber 28Protein
- Homestyle Chicken Filet Sandwich 430 Calories 16gFat 2 Fiber 25Protein
- Crispy Chicken Sandwich 360 Calories 14gFat 1 Fiber 16Protein
- Ham and Swiss Fescata 460 Calories 19gFat 4 Fiber 27Protein
- Turkey and Swiss Fescata 470 Calories 20gFat 4 Fiber 25Protein
- Fescata Club 430 Calories 17gFat 4 Fiber 22Protein
- Baked Potato (Plain) (with butter add 50) 270 Calories 0gFat 7 Fiber 7Protein
- Large Chilli (Crackers add 25– cheese add 75) 330 Calories 9gFat 8 Fiber 25Protein
You can pretty much order 1 of any other item. Just be careful of your sodium intake or don’t eat here everyday.
- Bean Burrito 320 Calories 7gFat 9 Fiber 12 Protein
- 7-Layer Burrito 380 Calories 8g Fat 9 Fiber 13 Protein
- Crunch Wrap Supreme 560 Calories 9g Fat 5 Fiber 17 Protein
- Nachos Supreme 450 Calories 9gFat 14 Fiber 26 Protein
Skip the milkshakes and try a vanilla ice cream cone instead. Your best drink choices are a Fruit Tea (5-10 calories) or Limeade (around 170).
- Jr. Burger 320 Calories 16g Fat 2 Fiber 15 Protein
- Corn Dog 250 Calories 15g Fat 2 Fiber 5 Protein
- Grilled Cheese 390 Calorie 17g Fat 2 Fiber 14Protein
- Grilled Chicken Wrap 380 Calories 11g Fat 4 Fiber 27Protein
- Chicken Strip Wrap 480 Calories 20g Fat 5 Fiber 20Protein
- Jumbo Popcorn Chicken-SNACK size 370 Calories 21gFat 2 Fiber 19Protein
- Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Bistro 430 Calories 21gFat 2 Fiber 25Protein
- Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Bistro 470 Calories 27gFat 2 Fiber 21Protein
- Burrito 370 Calories 20g Fat 3 Fiber 11Protein
- Small Tater Tot or Fry 220 Calories
- Ham and Pineapple Personal Pan 570 Calories 26g Fat 3 Fiber 28Protein
- Pepperoni and Mushroom Personal Pan 600 Calories 15g Fat 2 Fiber 5Protein
Skip the cheese, mayo and ranch dressings because they pack a lot of calories and fat. Your best bread choice is Italian or wheat, and each of your choices below are for a 6″ sub.
- Ham 290 Calories 5g Fat 4 Fiber 18Protein
- Oven Roasted Chicken Breast 310 Calories 5g Fat 5 Fiber 9 Protein
- Roast Beef 290 Calories 5g Fat 4 Fiber 24Protein
- Subway Club 320 Calories 6g Fat 4 Fiber 19 Protein
- Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki 370 Calories 5g Fat 5 Fiber 26 Protein
- Turkey Breast 280 Calories 4.5gFat 4 Fiber 18 Protein
- Turkey Breast & Ham 290 Calories 5g Fat 4 Fiber 20 Protein
- Veggie Delite 230 Calories 3g Fat 4 Fiber 9 Protein
- Italian BMT 450 Calories 21gFat 4 Fiber 23 Protein
- Steak & Cheese 400 Calories 12gFat 5 Fiber 29 Protein
What is your main go-to meal? Do you go to the drive-thru often?
In the fall and winter, I will make a lot of crockpot recipes and large pots of chili (3 variations lol!), vegetable soup, and stews because we will have leftovers for a few days too. This has really helped us cut down on the temptation to “just stop and get something.” It’s also saved a ton of money because an average fast food run costs us about $10-20 just for 2 people! Yikes!