23/02/2024

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Healthiest Menu Items at Fast Food Restaurants

Healthiest Menu Items at Fast Food Restaurants

The common sentiment is that fast food and takeout will immediately derail your diet or fitness goals, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Several fast-food restaurants offer healthier options for those looking to eat low-calories or simply track their macronutrients.

The majority of chain restaurants have nutrition calculators on their websites, allowing customers to track the calories and macros of any customized meal.

Newsweek has compiled a list of the healthiest options at your favorite chain restaurants.

healthy eating take out fast food
Stock image man and woman eating to-go salads. Here are some of the healthier fast-food options out there.

Akacin Phonsawat/Getty Images

Chipotle

Chipotle, for instance, offers a sizable salad with your protein of choice, plus fajita vegetables, beans, salsa and cheese for less than 600 calories.

While adding in extras like rice, guacamole and hot queso can quickly ramp up your meal’s calorie content, the trick is to stay mostly with vegetables and proteins for a filling but healthy meal on the go.

Subway

Many mistakenly believe that bread is out of the question when on a diet. But by choosing carefully at Subway, you can enjoy a delicious sandwich packed with filling vegetables and protein.

A foot-long turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread, for instance, comes down to roughly 600 calories at the sandwich chain. And that includes a hefty portion of all the vegetables available, from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.

Many end up wrecking their healthier sandwich option when it comes time to choose a condiment. At Subway, instead of opting for high-calorie and fatty mayo, the store’s Buffalo sauce will pack in some flavor without the hit to your diet.

Burger King

Even if you find yourself at Burger King, which mostly offers traditional American fare like cheeseburgers, you don’t have to totally destroy your healthy eating routine.

A standard cheeseburger contains just 301 calories with 16 grams of protein. Pairing this with a side salad or vegetables can boost the healthiness while still delivering a healthy meal.

Domino’s

The trick to eating healthy at a pizza chain like Domino’s is to choose thin crust options, which cuts down on your calorie and carb counts.

Domino’s veggie thin crust is one of the best options, but chicken is also a relatively lean protein topping.

Per serving, a veggie thin-crust pizza has 200 calories. Paired with a side salad, this could be a filling and tasty pizza meal without blowing your fitness goals.

Staying Healthy While Eating Out

Kevin Thompson, a certified financial planner and also the founder of 9i Capital Group, said restaurants with high-quality salad takeout options are some of the best for maximizing your health.

Fast casual restaurants like Chopt, Just Salad and Sweetgreen allow diners to customize their salads, providing a calorie count for each ingredient and salad bowl.

“I figured I would be saving on healthcare costs down the line by adding this as a staple in my diet. So the cost incurred to eat healthy may be offset by future healthcare cost in eating an unhealthy dish such as a greasy burger or fries,” Thompson told Newsweek.

Thompson said choosing a tea with no added sugar is a healthier choice than your standard fast food soda too.

While finding healthy options at fast food restaurants will never be the easiest, choosing options with a high protein and low sugar count will be your best bet.

“The rule I always follow is to find less expensive items that have the lowest amount of sugar possible,” Trevor Watson, a Colorado-based personal trainer, told Newsweek. “Most fast food hamburgers are surprisingly good sources of protein that are also low in sugar content.”

The key issue is to avoid extras, sauces and condiments, which often add empty calories and fat.

“The issue is everything else–the fries, the many condiments on top, the soda that comes with it,” Watson said. “Not only do these options equate to plenty of extra calories, but they also make what could be a simple, cheap meal a vastly more expensive one.”