The healthiest things you can order at 12 fast-food chains

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Flickr/Janet Hudson

Yes, you can get food that’s nutritious (and filling!) at fast-food places like Chipotle and Papa John’s.

And while eating pizza and burgers everyday is probably not a great idea, you don’t have to completely swear off joining your friends for a quick bite every once in awhile.

We’ve compiled a list of fast-food items from our favorite chains that’ll fill you up and keep you energized without weighing you down.


Chipotle — Chicken Burrito Bowl with brown rice & pinto beans, no cheese or sour cream — 500 calories

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Chipotle

Chipotle has lots of fresh, healthier options. In general, nix the cheese and sour cream (an occasional dollop of guac is fine, since it’s packed with healthy fats), and go for deconstructed alternatives to their burritos, like this one, which has:

500 calories – not too low, not too high

42g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

13.5g of fat – a little on the high side

57g of carbs – roughly one-third of your recommended daily allowance

805mg of sodium – a little less than half your recommended daily allowance


In-N-Out — Cheeseburger with onion and ketchup and mustard instead of spread — 480 calories

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

You don’t have to turn to the secret menu (we’re lookin’ at you, Protein-Style fans) to get a lighter option at In-N-Out. Swap the special sauce for some ketchup and mustard to slash some fat and calories, and opt for a regular burger instead of a Double-Double.

480 calories – not too high, not too low

22g of protein – a good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

27g of fat – on the high side (a little less than half your daily allowance)

41g of carbs – roughly 14% of your recommended daily allowance

1080mg of sodium – close to half your recommended daily allowance


Chick-fil-A — Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap — 340 calories

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Hollis Johnson

The “home of the original chicken sandwich” spiced up its menu last year, adding a smattering of healthy fare like this, which has:

340 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

36g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

13g of fat – not too low, not too high

30g of carbs – on the low side

900mg of sodium – about half your recommended daily allowance


Shake Shack — Single Hamburger or Chicken Dog — 360 or 300 calories

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Flickr/Jonathan Grado

While they’re known for their towering Shack Stacks and crispy fries, this chain has lighter options too. Notably, their vegetarian ‘Shroom Burger isn’t one of them.

Hamburger:

360 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

26g of protein – a good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

17g of fat – on the higher side, but not a deal-breaker

25g of carbs – pretty low

460mg of sodium – pretty low

Chicken Dog:

300 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go

26g of protein – a good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

11g of fat -not too high, not too low

32g of carbs – not too high, not too low

970mg of sodium – a little under half your daily allowance


Taco Bell — Fresco Chicken Burrito Supreme — 340 calories

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Flickr/Mark Fusco

No longer solely the land of Chalupas and Crunchwrap Supremes, Taco Bell has expanded their healthier offerings with its “Fresco” menu, which essentially swaps the sour cream and cheese in popular items for salsa. Here’s how the Fresco Burrito with Chicken shapes up:

340 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

19g of protein – a pretty good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

8g of fat – not too low, not too high

49g of carbs – roughly 16% of your recommended daily allowance

1060mg of sodium – close to half your recommended daily allowance


Panera — Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich on Country — 430 calories

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Flickr/Jack Kennard

Panera has loads of yummy nutritious items, at least when it comes to lunch. Order from the “You Pick Two” menu to try a half sandwich and small salad, or a get a full sandwich, which has:

430 calories – not too high, not too low

33g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

3.5g of fat – pretty low

67g of carbs – on the higher side; watch your snacks

1790mg of sodium – higher than any other item on this list


Wendy’s — Asian Cashew Chicken Salad, full size — 380 calories

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Wendy’s

Not all of Wendy’s salads are on the healthier side (the Spicy Caesar Chicken Salad, for example, packs 790 calories and 51 grams of fat), but a couple are winners, including this cashew chicken salad, which has:

380 calories – on the low side

36g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

14g of fat – on the higher side, but not a deal-breaker

32g of carbs – pretty high and largely from sugar; watch your snacks

1070mg of sodium – roughly half your daily allowance


Papa John’s — Garden Fresh Pizza, two medium slices — 400 calories

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mrsdkrebs on Flickr

One of the least healthy things about most pizza-chain fare is their high sodium content, which research suggests may be bad news for your heart. If you’re a pizza fan, keep an eye your salt intake the rest of the day after you’ve indulged in a few slices.

400 calories – on the lower side

16g of protein – a pretty good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

14g of fat – not too low, not too high

54g of carbs – pretty high; replace sugary or carb-heavy snacks with protein-rich ones

980mg of sodium – just under half your daily allowance


McDonald’s — Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich — 360 calories

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McDonald’s

While I wasn’t incredibly impressed by taste of the Artisan Grilled Chicken, it’s definitely one of the healthier choices McDonald’s offers. Opt for a sandwich with grilled rather than fried meat, and hold the mayo to curb your fat intake. Here’s how the sandwich stacks up:

360 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

33g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

6g of fat – not too low, not too high

43g of carbs – roughly 14% of your daily allowance

960mg of sodium – a little under half your daily allowance


Burger King — BK Veggie Burger, no mayo — 310 calories

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Wikimedia Commons

My vegetarian friends were ecstatic when Burger King announced its veggie option. Overall at this restaurant, the same rules as McDonald’s apply: Avoid mayo and fried options and go for sandwiches instead of meals. Here’s the BK Veggie low-down:

310 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

22g of protein – a hefty amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

7g of fat – not too low, not too high

42g of carbs – roughly 14% of your daily allowance

990mg of sodium – close to half your daily allowance


Subway — 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub, no cheese, add avocado — 340 calories

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Flickr/Bubby

“Eating fresh” is pretty easy at this chain, where you can get lean meats or just fresh veggies on whole-wheat bread with a variety of low-calorie, low-fat dressings. Turkey and avocado, my personal favorite, has:

340 calories – pretty low as far as lunch items go; you might want to pair this with a yogurt, a small salad, or some fresh fruit

18g of protein – a pretty good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

9g of fat – not too low, not too high

49g of carbs – roughly 16% of your daily allowance

670mg of sodium – not bad; much lower than competing items at Chipotle or Taco Bell


Pizza Hut — Garden Party Thin Crust Pizza, two medium slices — 460 calories

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Pizza Hut

As part of its recent attempt to overhaul its brand, Pizza Hut began offering several options with more fresh veggies and popular toppings like Sriracha. But like other pizza chains, one of the restaurant’s main health drawbacks is the high sodium and carb content of its offerings. The Garden Party pizza has:

460 calories – not too high, not too low

18g of protein – a pretty good amount to strengthen muscles and fill you up

18g of fat – on the higher side, but not a deal-breaker

60g of carbs – pretty high; watch your snacks

900mg of sodium – a little under half your daily allowance