Here’s a list of healthy options at fast food restaurants, the nutrition of each healthy order, and some tips for ordering healthy food while eating out.
healthy options at fast food restaurants
At some point, you’re likely going to stop for fast food. Sometimes you’re busy, tired, traveling, or get into an unexpected situation keeping you from having a meal at home. Packing some high-protein, low-carb snacks can definitely help, but they won’t always make the cut. I am here to tell you there are healthy options at fast food chains! As someone who does a lot of traveling, I’ve come across quite a few places with options to keep you on track with your goals.
In this post I will share some of my favorite healthy options at fast food chains and nutrition information for some of those options. Then, I’ll give some tips and tricks to make healthy choices while eating out.
This is a reminder that each person has their own definition of healthy. There is no right or wrong way to order at a fast food restaurant. “Healthy” is based on YOUR needs and YOUR goals. These tips, tricks, and favorite order work for me in my journey of healthy. These options have a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, which work together to keep me full and feeling my best.
general tips & tricks
- Look up the nutrition information. Fast food restaurants typically have their menus & nutrition information on their websites for you to look up healthy options. Several menu items are also logged into nutrition apps like My Fitness Pal, so you can quickly search something and see the caloric amount and macronutrient breakdown.
- Ask for toppings and sauces on the side. Whether you’re getting a sandwich or salad, typically things like sauces and cheeses are going to add extra fats and calories. There isn’t anything wrong with extra fats or calories, but typically leaving those off or using them in a small amount will save your calories and macros.
- Use less bread. If you get something like a sandwich or burger, skip the bun or use of one to consume less carbs or overall calories.
- Ask for double protein. If you’re trying to eat more protein, asking for double chicken on a salad or double patties on a burger is a great way to get more protein without eating an entire second entree.
- Go for the grilled options. Grilled options are generally going to have more protein and less carbs & fats than fried entrees.
- Salads aren’t always low calorie. It can be easy to think that salads are the lowest calories option, but that is not the case. Salads can have small amounts of protein or high amounts of carbs and fats, depending on the toppings. Ways to make salads the most nutrient-dense are to add double protein and ask for the dressing on the side so you can add your own.
- Take 1/2 the order home. It is okay to eat half of your order and take the rest home as leftovers! It’s a really easy way to still enjoy a “classic fast food order” (think burger and fries), while still meeting your macro goals for the day.
- Order based on your needs! If you want less fats, ask for no cheese or dressing. If you want more protein, ask for double meat. Look at the ingredients and decide what YOU want!
- Grilled Nuggets – 130 Calories. 3g Fat. 1g Carbs. 25g Protein.
- Market Salad – 310 Calories. 12g Fat. 25g Carbs. 28g Protein.
- Egg White Grill – 290 Calories. 7g Fat. 31g Carbs. 27g Protein.
- Spicy Southwest Salad – 450 Calories. 19g Fat. 39g Carbs. 33g Protein.
- Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap – 350 Calories. 13g Fat. 29g Carbs. 42g Protein.
Chick-Fil-A has so many grilled chicken options! It’s so easy to find high-protein, low-carb delicious entrees here, which is why this will always be one of my favorites! Here’s a few more options the restaurant recommends.
- Salad with protein, double fajita veggies, salsa, and guacamole
Chipotle is awesome because it’s so easy to customize your order! Remember for a general rule of thumb that the protein comes from the meats, carbs from the rice & veggies, fats from the oils & dressings (and that side of guacamole). Here’s another guide for how to order healthy at Chipotle.
- Protein Style Hamburger – 240 calories. 17g Fat. 11g Carbs. 13g Protein.
A “Protein Style” Hamburger is one that switches the bun for lettuce. It’s a great way to reduce carbs and focus on the protein in a meal! Just for fun, check out this list of the best and worst things to order at In-N-Out.
- Unwich or Slim Sandwich
- Ex: Turkey Tom Unwich Lettuce Wrap – 225 Calories. 19g Fat. 2g Carbs. 14g Protein.
A Jimmy Johns “Unwich” is a sandwich that swaps the bread for lettuce. Another great way to cut a few carbs! Here’s another list of healthy subs to order from Jimmy’s!
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 380 Calories. 7g Fat. 44g Carbs. 37g Protein.
- Egg White Delight Breakfast Sandwich – 280 Calories. 10g Fat. 29g Carbs. 18g Protein.
What is the healthiest thing you can order at McDonals? Usually for healthier options at McDonald’s, I skip the burgers and consider one of the grilled, high-protein options. If you aren’t into these options, here’s a list of more healthy options from McDonald’s.
- Fajitas with protein & veggies
- Burrito bowl with greens, protein, and veggies
- Skip the beans, rice, & extra creamy sauces
I love Mexican food and have found the option that makes me feel the best are options with less sauce and more protein and veggies. Fajitas are great because the base is protein and veggies, and you can easily decide what you want to top it with. For fewer carbs, skip the tortillas, rice and beans. Want less fat? Skip the sour cream and guacamole. For more information, here’s a guide for how to order healthy at any Mexican restaurant.
- Broccoli and Beef – 150 Calories. 7g Fat. 13g Carbohydrates. 9g Protein.
My go-to at Panda Express is the broccoli and beef, which is a simple entree with a balance of nutrients. This list has a few more options as well.
- Green Goddess Cobb Salad – 550 Calories. 33g Fat. 24g Carbs. 42g Protein.
- Cobb Salad – 655 Calories. 31g Fat. 24g Carbs. 35g Protein.
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup – 240 Calories. 13g Fat. 19g Carbs. 9g Protein.
- Turkey Sandwich – 540 Calories. 17g Fat. 64g Carbs. 37g Protein.
- You Pick Two of Salad & Sandwich or Soup
Panera is one of my all-time favorite chains because of the amount of healthy options available. You can easily find a healthy salad, soup, or sandwich, depending on what you’re craving. Here’s a list of a few more healthy Panera orders as well!
- Base of greens and protein and veggies (sauce on the side)
Like burrito bowls from Chipotle, poke bowls are awesome because you can customize them based on the nutrition goals you have! There are articles on how to order the healthiest poke bowl as well.
- Egg White Sous Vide Bites – 170 Calories. 8g Fat. 11g Carbs. 12g Protein.
- Classic Oatmeal – 160 Calories. 2.5g Fat. 28g Carbs. 5g Protein.
If you’re picking up breakfast from Starbucks, consider the Egg White Bites and Classic Oatmeal for high-protein, low-carb options. If you’re looking for healthy drink options, here’s an article on how to lighten up your favorite drinks!
- 1 roll of sushi and 1 roll of sashimi
Sashimi is raw fish served without rice, an awesome high-protein option! Another idea is to ask your restaurant for substitutes because most will let you swap rice for seaweed. This is an article ranking the healthiest rolls approved by nutritionist that is a helpful guide!
- Apple Pecan Chicken Salad – 560 Calories. 24g Fat. 52g Carbs. 38g Protein.
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 404 Calories. 11g Fat. 42g Carbs. 33g Protein.
My go-to at Wendy’s is their salad with dressing on the side. Here are some burger and sandwich healthy options as well!
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 430 Calories. 14g Fat. 39g Cards. 35g Protein.
- Chicken Fajita Taco – 335 Calories. 11g Fat. 31g Carbs. 29g Protein.
- Apple & Cranberry Chicken Salad – 385 Calories. 12g Fat. 38g Carbs. 33g Protein.
- Double Meat Whataburger Jr. – 250 Calroies. 18g Fat. 2g Carbs. 18g Protein.
Whataburger has a “Lighter and Smaller” menu that is full of healthier options!
who has the healthiest fast food?
Healthy options at fast food restaurants are found at places where you can order to align the best with your nutrition goals. I like Panera, Chipotle, and Chick-Fil-A for a bakery, mexican, and american option. They all have plenty of grilled, high-protein, low-carb options based on what you’re craving to eat.
what is the healthiest takeout food?
The healthiest takeout food depends on how you order! It is VERY easy to customize meals to make them align to your nutrition goals. Want more protein? Ask for double. Need less fats? Ask for the sauce on the side. If you want to enjoy “classic takeout,” still do that! Consider enjoying 1/2 and saving the rest for later.
what are your favorite healthy fast food orders?
Comment on this post with you favorite healthy options at fast food restaurants!