Choosing Healthy Fast Food
Healthiest Fast Food Options
If you on this site, most likely you are trying to figure out a way to eat healthy fast food. Maybe your doing an If It Meets Your Macros diet, or maybe you have pretty hectic days and are force to choose fast food more often than you want. No matter the case, you're here becasue your trying to educate yourself, and the fast food options out there can be overwhelming.
Fast food is infamous for being unhealthy and packing too many calories into too small a meal, or even turing common "healthy" options like oatmeal and yogurt into sugar ladden calorie bombs.
"Healthy fast food" might sound like a contradiction, but there are some choices out there that are a lot better than others.
General Guidelines to Healthy Fast Food Coices
Right off the bat, there are some things you can do:
- Stay away from french fries. Fast food french fries are loaded with calories and carbs nad offer very little in the way of nutrition.
- Stay away from sugared drinks like soda, frappacinos, milk shakes, sweet tea and the like. There are 280 caloris in a large McDonalds sweet tea, and not a vitamin or mineral to go along with it. When it comes to drinks, stick to water, diet soft drinks, or other zero-calorie drinks. Don't dump a bunch of cream and sugar into your coffee either. have some backbone and drink it black!
- Watch out for high calorie condiments and extras like mayonnaise, sauces, cheese, sour cream, tartar sauce, etc....
- Check the calories on salad dressings. Creamy dressing like ranch or Thousand Island can double the calories of your salad. Go with vinaigrettes or light Italian. Olive oil is a good choice. It adds calories, but it's a great option for getting healthy fat.
- Sometimes all you have to do is read the name toknow something isn't the best option: Triple Decker Double Ranch Bacon Burger with Cheese. Need I say more?
- Choose grilled over crispy (fried). A McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich is 80 calories less than the crispy version. Right now, Wendy's is the only place I know that offers a grilled nugget option.
- No desserts. Do I really need to tell you that?
Best Fast Food Choices
Diet soda, water, unsweetened ice tea, black coffee or coffee with just a dash of cream.
Burgers and Sandwiches
Hold the mayo, ketchup, BBQ and other suaces. Stick with mustard or nothing. Cheese is OK, but be aware of hte calories and sodium it adds. Go with grilled instead of crispy in your sandwhich.
If you get meat, go with grilled meats. Stay away from creamy dressings, go with Italian or vinnigarrette options. If you're carb watching, limit croutons startches (like corn and carrots). If you're calorie watching, look out for add ons like crumbled blue cheese, sour cream, or other high calorie toppings.
Key words to look for
Key words to avoid
- Garden fresh
- Stir fried
General Healthy Meal Guidelines
Try to keep your meal at or under 500 calories. The average fast food meal is over 800 calories. It's easy to underestimate just how many calories your eating. Take the guesswork out of use the calorie information to add up hwo many calories you're going to eat.
Choose food options that are higher in protein and fiber. Although recent research indicates saturated fat isn't the demon it was once thought to be, you don't want to go crazy with it.
Watch out for for trans-fats. Trans-fats HAVE been show to have a detrimental effect on your health. Meat and dairy products have a small amount of naturally ocurring trans-fats, but the culprit is added trans fats used to keep food fresh. The keyword to look for is "partially hydrogenated" oil. If you see it, head in the opposite direction.
Be careful when it coems to sodium intake. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends staying under 1500mg of sodium per day, and not to exceed 2,300mg a day. Staying in the range can be extremely hard when eating fast food. There are some fast food items that have more then 3,000mg of sodium!
Even choosing carefully, it can be pretty tough to get enough fiber and other important vitamins and nutrients from fast food. If you do eat fast food, make sure you add in healthy supplements like nuts, seeds, carrot sticks, apple slices, and cottage cheese or plain yogurt.
Keeping Calories Under Control
Avoid condiments and dressings. Salad dressings, spreads, sauces, gravys, and sides can pack some serious calories. Mayonnaise is a big culprit here. Go for mustard instead.
Watch what you drink. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. An average large soda has around 300 calories and 80 grams of sugar. A milk shake can have up to 800 calories and 120 grams of sugar. Lemonade, sweet tea, and fruit drinks are no better as they are packed with calories and sugar too. Go for water, unsweetened tea or black coffee.
Limit side dishes. Calories from sides can quickly add up. Avoid French fries, rice, chips, noodles, onion rings, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits and other breads. If you get a side, go for a side salad with no or light dressing, or maybe a baked potato with no butter or toppings. Apple slices or a small fruit cup would work too.
Ok. Bacon. It's delicious. It's also packed with fat, calories and nitrites and has very few nutrients. Add on the veggies instead - pickles, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes can add a lot of flavor without a lot of calories.