11 Meals To Order at Fast-Food Restaurants, According to a Dietitian
When you're in the market for a quick meal, we know fast-food restaurants are majorly convenient. But when it comes to ordering something that will be healthy and keep you satiated for hours, those menus can feel daunting. Especially if you're hungry and you just need something to fuel your body quick. This is why we spoke with a registered dietitian to pick out a few healthy meals at fast-food restaurants you can order next time you're on-the-go.
In order to determine a few healthy meals at fast-food restaurants, we asked Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian in the New York City area, to pick out a few meals that would be healthy for customers to order that will leave their bodies feeling fueled and satisfied. As a spokesperson for Panda Express, she's constantly looking at menus and determining healthier orders for customers, demystifying this idea that fast-food is always unhealthy. Fast-food meals really can be healthy—as long as you know what types of items to look for.
Below you will find a list of healthy meals from fast-food restaurants. The nutrition for each item is the total calculation for the entire order (some meals have you ordering multiple items!) and they're all under 450 calories.
Here are the healthy meals Gorin chose, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Panda Express: Black Pepper Angus Steak Entree Bowl with Super Greens (1/2) & Brown Rice (1/2)
"Yup, you can get tender, high-quality steak at a fast-food restaurant when you order the Black Pepper Angus Steak entree at Panda Express! It has only 180 calories, yet provides 19 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of the fueling nutrient," says Gorin. "I recommend ordering it as a bowl, which comes with one side, but you have the option to order any half-and-half combination. Go for the Super Greens—a medley of broccoli, kale, and cabbage—and brown rice for a healthy, balanced meal full of satiating fiber as well as plenty of health-helping vitamins and minerals!"
McDonald's: Sausage Burrito & Apple Slices
"Go with a sausage burrito [at McDonald's]—which contains a mix of eggs, sausage, and veggies—for 310 calories and add a side of apple slices," says Gorin. "I suggest adding produce to every meal to help keep you fuller for longer!"
Burger King: Whopper Jr., Garden Side Salad & Ken's Lite Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette (1/2 Packet)
"A lot of the options at Burger King are fried," says Gorin. "So I'd recommend going [with] what you probably came to BK for: a burger. But go with the Whopper Jr., which has less than half the calories of a regular-sized one. Then order a Garden Side Salad with the Ken's Lite Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette. Don't use the whole packet of dressing!"
Speaking of that famous burger, did you hear Burger King Just Shared This Secret About Its #1 Menu Item?
Wendy's: Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, Half-Size
"Wendy's has several good salad options, so that's what I'd go with at this restaurant," says Gorin. "Choose a half-size order of the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. With the dressing, this will net you 400 calories—and you'll get 24 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber to help keep you fuller for longer."
Domino's: Crunchy Thin Pizza with Classic Garden Salad & Ken's Lite Balsamic
"Ordering pizza for the family? Go with a Crunchy Thin Pizza. Per slice of a large 14-inch pizza, this will save you 60 calories," says Gorin. "Load up the veggies—for instance, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Then order a Classic Garden Salad with Ken's Lite Balsamic with Olive Oil."
If you order a Crunchy Thin Pizza with just cheese at Domino's, the serving size calculated includes 1/8 of the pizza, which equals out to 200 calories. You can add in a few more veggies for just a small increase in calories, but a great increase of fiber.
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Subway: 6-inch Oven Roasted Turkey Breast on 9-Grain with American Cheese & Guacamole. Side of Applesauce.
"You probably came to Subway for the sandwiches," says Gorin. "So go with the Oven Roasted Turkey Breast 6-inch sub on 9-Grain Wheat, with guacamole and a slice of cheese. Load it up with spinach, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and cucumbers–and a side of applesauce–for extra filling produce."
Dunkin': Veggie Egg White Sandwich on Multigrain Thin & Medium Skim-Milk Cappuccino
"The challenge with Dunkin' is that you can't order any veggies or fruit," says Gorin. "The best you can do is get a meal with vegetables cooked into the egg. So go with the Veggie Egg White [Sandwich], which is egg whites and white cheddar on multigrain thin bread. It's 250 calories with 14 grams of protein [for the sandwich alone], so I'd recommend pairing this with a medium skim-milk cappuccino for additional satiating protein."
Taco Bell: Veggie Power Menu Bowl
"The meals at Taco Bell are very customizable, which is great," says Gorin. "I'm a fan of the Veggie Power Menu Bowl, made with black beans. Go easy on the sour cream to save a few calories-and add tomatoes for extra fiber, all for a total of 430 calories."
Chick-fil-A: Spicy Southwest Salad with Grilled Filet
"Go with the Spicy Southwest Salad, with grilled filet," says Gorin. "You have many protein options for this salad, and the word 'grilled' indicates this is a healthier choice—versus fried options that significantly increase the calorie count. The grilled filet option lands you at 450 calories and 35 grams protein."
Starbucks: Prosnax Green Apple Snack Box
"The Protein Boxes at Starbucks are great options, particularly if you're on the go," says Gorin. "The Prosnax Green Apples, Egg, Mild Cheddar Cheese, and Cashews Snack Box provides ample vegetarian protein—13 grams—for 320 calories. For a fast-food meal, the sodium is on the low side—only 250 milligrams."
Pizza Hut: Veggie Lover's Thin 'N Crispy & Marinara Dipping Sauce
"Go for the Veggie Lover's Thin 'N Crispy option, which saves you 90 calories per slice of a large cheese pizza," says Gorin. "If you want to save extra calories, you can ask for light cheese. Order with a side of Marinara Dipping Sauce to add extra produce to your meal for just 30 calories." For this meal, you can enjoy 1/8 of the pizza—which is the equivalent of one large slice.
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