Fast food is synonymous with cheap, highly processed food packed with empty calories. However, a number of fast-food restaurants are beginning to up their game and now offer a range of healthy alternatives to their usual fat-soaked fare. In fact, a number of large chains are even cutting unhealthy food from their menu entirely! So, if you find yourself lacking the energy or time to prepare healthy food from scratch, why not try one of these restaurants for a quick and easy meal?
Starbucks offers a range of healthy options to go with your coffee, including a breakfast sandwich with egg, spinach, and cheese that comes in at around 280 calories, a whopping 14 grams of protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. While some of their food can be pretty salty, you will certainly consume less salt than if you go for breakfast at any of the other restaurant chains. At lunchtime, their fresh and delicious bistro boxes are a great choice at only 500 calories each. And that coffee will give you energy for the rest of the day!
As the third-largest fast-food hamburger restaurant chain after McDonald’s and Burger King, Wendy’s does sell a lot of burgers and fries. However, you may be surprised to find some healthy options on their menus, such as grilled chicken wraps and a large variety of salads. Invest in yourself and go for the healthier options!
12. The Cheesecake Factory
Enormous portions and high-calorie fare mean that the Cheesecake Factory has not been the haunt of the health-conscious, but they have recently expanded their range to include the SkinnyLicious menu, featuring more reasonable portion sizes and ingredients that don’t explode the waistline. Try their fish, seafood, and steak for protein-based meals or go for one of their healthy salads.
11. Taco Bell
Almost three-quarters of the items on Taco Bell’s menu clock in at less than 500 calories, such as the vegetarian Bean Burrito, which has 380 calories and 11 grams of fat, of which 4 grams is saturated fat. For a more healthy meal, purchase the Chicken Soft Taco. At only 170 calories and 8 grams of fat, including barely 3 grams of saturated fat, it won’t ruin your diet.
The inventor of fast food and still the #1 fast-food chain, McDonald’s has a menu laden with fried, unhealthy food. Following criticism that its food is contributing to increasing global obesity and diabetes rates (which are both so bad for the health care system), the chain has recently begun expanding its menu to feature healthier offerings. Customers can now enjoy a range of salads, including protein and fruit-based varieties.
9. Pizza Hut
It’s easy to go overboard with calories when you’re having a pizza, so if you’re really craving one, why not share with friends? Up the health quotient by buying Pizza Hut’s Veggie Lovers with extra veggies and a large salad on the side. At 230 calories and 9 grams of fat for each slice, it’s a delicious way to eat your greens.
Taking care to source only fresh, local, organic produce and naturally produced hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, Chipotle Mexican Grill offers a range of burritos and tacos that hungry customers can customize. They also have plenty of salads, veggies, and rice and bean dishes that are fast and convenient yet healthy. Chipotle has shown how to run a fast-food business while being on the healthier side.
7. Papa John’s
Papa John’s has a “Papa’s Lighter Choices” range, with each slice containing less than 300 calories. They do come loaded with vegetables, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and olives, for an extra nutritional energy boost.
6. Burger King
One of the top three burger chains worldwide, Burger King is not known for its healthy offerings. Nevertheless, customers looking to reduce their waistlines can be a little more selective when it comes to choosing their burger. While the grilled chicken sandwich has 470 calories with 19 grams of fat, only 3.5 grams of those are saturated fat, while a regular hamburger contains only 240 calories with 10 grams of fat, including 3.5 grams of saturated fat. Another healthier option is the BK Veggie Burger. This veggie patty with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions comes with 390 calories and 17 grams of fat, of which only 2.5 g is saturated fat. Spending your money on that one is your best bet to stay healthy at Burger King.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, obviously has a lot of fried chicken on its menu and so it’s a struggle to find something healthy to eat when you’re pressed for time. Nevertheless, some locations also offer grilled chicken options as well as low-calorie sides such as corn on the cob or green beans. Still, you might want to trade KFC for another fast-food if you are really dedicated to cutting back on calories and fat.
4. Dairy Queen
A trip to Dairy Queen doesn’t have to ruin your diet. Select the smallest cone or a kids’ cone with a plain flavor like vanilla and skip the toppings. Okay, at 230 calories and 7 grams of fat it’s not exactly healthy, but it isn’t a hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream either. Go on, you’ve earned your treat.
The customer is king at Subway, where they can customize their sub – or deli-style sandwich – by choosing only healthy toppings such as vegetables and lean meat. For those less inclined to take the time to choose, Subway also offers a number of low-calorie salads as well as healthy options on its Fresh Fit menu. Purchase the 6-inch turkey breast sub, which comes on nine-grain whole wheat bread and only gives you 250 calories and 3 grams of fat, with a scarce 0.5 grams of saturated fat.
One of the largest fast-food chains in the US, Chick-fil-A offers mostly chicken sandwiches. Their Grilled Chicken Sandwich contains 310 calories and only 6 grams of fat, of which 2 grams is saturated fat. Better still, the Grilled Chicken Nuggets give you only 140 calories and 3.5 grams of fat with 1 gram of saturated fat. Those in search of breakfast might try the Greek Yoghurt Parfait (250 calories, 9 grams of fat with 4 grams of saturated fat) or the slightly more substantial Sunflower Multigrain Bagel and cream cheese (290 calories, 10 grams of fat with 4.5 grams of saturated fat). Or, you know, invest yourself somewhere else for more healthier options. It’s up to you!
1. Five Guys
Five Guys is a great place to get a delicious yet healthy burger. At 500 calories each, their burgers are not exactly a low-calorie option, but they do pack 25 grams of high-quality protein. Give yourself some bonus points by piling on their free vegetable toppings – onions, peppers, mushrooms, lettuce and tomatoes – as many as they can fit into that bun! You’re in for quite an energy boost!