5 of the healthiest meals you can order at fast-food chains
Posted May 23
Even you normally eat a healthy diet, sometimes fast food is unavoidable. Whether you’re running late, stuck in an airport or driving a long distance, sometimes your only option is a restaurant you just know isn’t good for you or your health.
When these situations arise, it’s good to be armed with knowledge. Obviously, nobody goes to McDonald’s for the nutritious food, but it is possible to find a reasonably healthy meal there and at plenty of other fast food spots as well. Here are five of the healthiest fast-food meals that will fill you up but won’t weigh you down.
1. Chipotle: Chicken Burrito Bowl With Brown Rice And Pinto Beans (550 calories)
Healthy food isn’t always about counting calories, but at places like Chipotle, where rice- and guacamole-stuffed tortillas can add up to an entire day’s worth of calories, it’s a good idea to check the calories before you order. But the chicken burrito bowl, which is packed with lean protein and fiber-rich beans and brown rice, will fill you up for just 500 calories. Leaving off cheese and sour cream trims sodium and fat from the meal, and salsas add plenty of flavor instead. If you’re feeling really virtuous, you can skip the guac, too, but it’s okay if you leave it on-after all, an avocado a day keeps the doctor away!
2. Taco Bell: Fresco Soft Tacos (280 calories)
Surprisingly, T-Bell is a great option for people looking to eat healthy on the road. They have a ton of vegetarian options (since beans are so prevalent in Tex-Mex cooking), and it’s easy to pump up your meal with lean meat options. The Fresco soft tacos with shredded chicken are just 280 calories and only have 7 grams of fat. You can add black beans and rice for some extra protein and just 180 additional calories. You can also skip the rice and add extra lettuce and tomato for fiber without the carbs.
3. Chick-fil-A: Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap (350 calories)
We know it’s painful to go to Chick-fil-A and not order a crispy chicken sandwich, but your waistline will thank you. Though the wrap comes in at 960 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly half the recommended daily allowance, it does have 37 grams of protein and is low in unhealthy fats. Paired with fresh fruit or a yogurt (that doesn’t have a hundred grams of added sugars), this is a healthy and filling lunch. Just make sure to watch your sodium intake at dinner.
3. Panda Express: Panda Bowl With Mixed Veggies And Mushroom Chicken (170 calories)
Walk right past the orange chicken at Panda Express. You don’t want to be eating fried nuggets of mystery meat coated in a sweet sauce-that’s a recipe for a massive sugar crash that will have you napping under your desk at work. While the Panda Bowl is still extremely high in sodium (clocking in at 840 milligrams), it’s still by far the healthiest option at this fast-food staple. You’ll have to skip rice or noodles which isn’t ideal, but in return you’ll get a good serving of protein that’s also low in fat.
4. McDonald’s: Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (380 calories)
As of late, the Golden Arches have been introducing more and more calorie-conscious menu items. The grilled chicken sandwich is one of them, and while it’s not the most interesting option flavor-wise, it also won’t wreck your diet. Clocking in at under 400 calories, it’s not quite enough to fill you up for lunch or dinner, so pair it with something high in fiber and low in sodium to counteract the 1,100 milligrams of sodium in the sandwich. This means fruit or veggies, not fries (sorry). With 37 grams of protein, the sandwich is a good option for when you’re absolutely starving but don’t want to go overboard on calories.
Still hungry? Here are some other fast-food meals that won’t leave you feeling bloated and guilty after your meal.