Typically, “fast food” and “healthy” don’t appear in the same sentence together. However, it’s a new age. With the rise of the health movement spreading across the U.S., many fast food chains have added several healthy options to their menus that are low in calories, fat, and sugar, and are more nutrient-rich. Read on to discover 12 healthy fast food options to go for when you need a quick, nutritious meal.
The Healthiest Fast Food Options
Below you’ll find some healthy fast food options for those times when you’re on the road and need a quick bite without the guilt. Every dish contains less than 500 calories and avoids the “common” fast food traits of being deep-fried, saturated in fatty sauces and dressings, or loaded with sugar. Instead, these entrees are centered around protein and veggies, making them filling and acceptable as a healthy meal.
Just because it’s a burger doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. Some simple swaps, like substituting the bun for a lettuce wrap and forgoing the signature spread, while loading up the onions and tomato, can turn an In-N-Out burger into a satisfying, yet healthy indulgence.
Chipotle’s Burrito Bowls are a great option for filling yourself up on quality meat and a ton of veggies. To keep this dish under 500 calories, get the bowl with brown rice, pinto beans, onions, peppers, and spicy salsa for a kick.
Salads have come a long way in recent years, even when it comes to fast food. Instead of a few shreds of lettuce and cucumber, you can now indulge in greens loaded with quinoa, chickpeas, fire-roasted veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken, and crumbled feta when you choose to stop by Wendy’s.
Craving a chicken sandwich, minus the calories and extra fat? Keep it simple with McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. This marinated, all-white-meat chicken breast is sandwiched between an artisan roll and tomato, topped with a light vinaigrette dressing.
Panera Bread’s Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken is a seasonal salad that leaves you feeling nothing but satisfied. It features hearts of romaine, topped with chicken raised without antibiotics and dusted with a special blend of citrus and spice, strawberries and blueberries, fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, and pecans for a bit of crunchy texture.
For a donut company, their healthy menu items are surprisingly clean. The best choice for a meal-type breakfast at Dunkin’ is their Egg White Veggie Sandwich, which contains an omelet filled with diced red and green bell pepper, mushrooms, green onions, and a slice of American cheese all nestled between two slices of fresh bread.
The Garden Party Pizza gives you a generous two slices for under 500 calories. As part of Pizza Hut’s brand makeover, they added the Garden Party toppings to their menu, which feature crushed tomato sauce topped with green bell peppers, fresh red onions, fresh mushrooms, diced Roma tomatoes, and spinach, drizzled with balsamic sauce.
For the vegans and vegetarians, have no fear. Burger King has your craving for a healthy “burger” covered. The BK Veggie Burger is made with a Morningstar Farms® Garden Veggie Patty topped with tomatoes, onions, pickles, and lettuce, all on a sesame seed bun. To keep it clean, avoid adding extra sauces or spreads.
It turns out you can stop for coffee at your favorite cafe and find a healthy breakfast option that isn’t a pastry. Starbucks offers a Spinach, Feta, and Cage-Free Egg White Breakfast Wrap that is vegetarian-approved and rich in protein and whole-grains.
If you’re looking for a healthy chicken option at Chik-Fil-A that isn’t breaded (or on a salad), look no further than the Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap. This wrap features sliced grilled chicken breast beside red and green lettuce, shredded cabbage, cheddar cheese, and avocado lime dressing rolled into a flaxseed flour flat bread.
Typically, when you hear “Shake Shack,” you probably assume their menu doesn’t feature many healthy options. However, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised: Shake Shack offers a ‘Shroom Burger for veggie lovers, so you don’t have to choose between health, convenience, or taste. The ‘Shroom features a slow roasted portobello mushroom as the burger “patty,” adding a rich, meaty texture reminiscent of beef.
Reach for this taco “Fresco style,” and you’ll have yourself a healthy taco option. The Chicken Burrito Supreme features chopped chicken breast, tomatoes, onions, refried beans, lettuce, and “Fresco” pico de gallo instead of sour cream. Forgo extra sauces to keep this fiesta clean.
As a general rule for sides at any fast food restaurant, it’s best to keep it simple.
First things first: if there are veggies available, or a side salad, grab these and forgo extra dressings or sauces.
Secondly: Search for fruit. Many fast food restaurants offer sides like a piece of fruit or a fruit cup.
Thirdly: Avoid fries, sauces, dips, and anything bread-like. This will help keeps your calories down and keep your meal healthy and filling.
What are your go-to healthy fast food options? Comment below to share your favorite nutritious meals.