Want fast food that tastes good and is good for you? You might be shocked to find out that your favourite fast food places have a lot of options that won’t throw off your diet.
We’ve put together a list of 16 fast-food items that are actually good for you, from salads to grilled chicken.
Before we start talking about our list, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: fast food is often criticized for being unhealthy.
Even though a lot of fast food is high in calories, saturated fat, and salt, there are some good reasons to eat it every now and then.
First of all, it’s easy to get fast food. Fast food can be a quick and easy choice when you’re in a hurry or don’t have much time.
Also, in answer to customer demand, many fast-food restaurants have started to give healthier options.
You can eat fast food without feeling bad if you choose these healthy options.
1. McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
You probably didn’t think McDonald’s would be on the list of fast food places with healthy options, but hear us out.
It all depends on how you create your order. McDonald’s breakfast options are all tasty and popular, but the Egg McMuffin without meat stands out as a healthy choice.
When you order an Egg McMuffin without the meat, you get a warm English muffin, a freshly cracked egg, and a slice of American cheese.
If you don’t eat meat, you save a lot of extra calories, fat, and salt. Even better, the American Society for Nutrition says that the carbs from the English muffin and the protein from the egg may be the best pair for your morning food.
We’re glad to hear that this breakfast standard is healthy because it’s always one of our top choices.
2. Starbucks Oatmeal
Let’s face it: on our way to work, we always stop at Starbucks to try the newest mocha drink. While we’re at it, it’s also easy to pick up a healthy breakfast to go.
Starbucks does a great job of having a wide range of food options that fit many different diets and tastes.
Most likely, their Rolled & Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries is the most healthy thing on their menu.
This food is oatmeal made with water and topped with blueberries, almonds, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar syrup, and walnuts.
The Harvard School of Public Health says that eating oatmeal for breakfast as a whole grain can be good for your heart.
Because it is full of fiber, not only will you feel full all morning, but your blood cholesterol may also change in a good way.
Healthline says that fiber can also help keep blood sugar levels in check. Who knew that a simple bowl of oatmeal could be so good for you?
3. Chipotle Salad Bowl
Chipotle is one of our best places to eat because it has so many different kinds of food.
You should be able to find an answer that works for you whether you are a vegetarian, an omnivore, or on a keto diet.
The salad bowl at Chipotle seems to be the best thing on the menu, especially if you make it just the way you like it.
For the most nutrition for your money, we recommend loading up on micronutrient-rich foods like whole grains, leafy greens, veggies, and spices.
Verywell Health says it’s best to include a low-fat source of protein like beans or chicken to avoid the high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol found in red meat.
So, what’s on the menu? We love a salad with brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, pico de gallo, corn salsa, guacamole, and salad dressing.
You can make it your own as long as you follow the rules.
4. Wendy’s Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad
When you’re traveling, you often have to make do with what you can find if there aren’t many healthy lunch choices.
The Wendy’s website says that there are more than 6,500 sites in the United States, which is good news.
Since there are so many Wendy’s, you are probably very close to one right now.
Even though the fast food place isn’t known for having healthy food, there is one item on the menu that we love when we want something good for us.
The Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad has greens, apple chips, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, cheese, grilled chicken, and a pomegranate dressing.
The mix of savory cheese and sweet fruits in this salad makes it taste great, and it’s also pretty healthy.
Healthline says that sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and keep the heart healthy.
Livestrong says that dried cranberries are also a great source of antioxidants.
5. Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad
We know that fast food places don’t always have the best salads, but Jack in the Box has one you’ll love that’s tasty and healthy.
The Grilled Chicken Salad has iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, grilled chicken, chopped cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, seasoned croutons, and a low-fat balsamic dressing.
We love that this salad has a lot of veggies, a lighter dressing, protein, and even croutons to give it a little extra crunch.
Women’s Health Magazine says that some people might think they should never eat croutons, but many experts say that adding some starchy carbs to your salad can give it a nice balance that will keep you full and energized all day.
We’re happy because the croutons are the best part of this salad and pretty much any salad. We don’t think we’re the only ones who feel that way, right?
6. Taco Bell Black Bean Taco
The menu at Taco Bell has a lot of choices, but most of them are not even close to what we’d call healthy.
But the company does offer a simple and healthy taco as part of its large menu. The Black Bean Soft Taco is a warm flour tortilla with black beans, lettuce, and cheese that have been chopped and seasoned.
Healthline says that black beans are a great source of protein from plants and are also full of fiber.
Even if you don’t avoid meat or aren’t a vegetarian, Forks over Knives shows that a lot of study agrees that we could all use a little bit more beans in our lives.
Medical News Today says that eating more black beans can help you lose weight, balance your blood sugar, lower your blood pressure, keep your bones healthy, protect you from cancer, and even help your heart stay healthy.
All of this because you ate more beans? Put us down.
7. Chick-fil-A Grilled Market Salad
Mixed greens, crumbled blue cheese, red and green apples, strawberries, blueberries, sliced grilled chicken (optional), harvest nut granola, roasted almonds, and their tangy apple cider dressing are all in the Chick-fil-A Market Salad.
This bright salad is not only tasty, but also full of good things for you.
Healthline says that the berries themselves have a lot of antioxidants that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
This lowers the risk of cancer. Very Well Fit says that berries help slow down the aging process and even improve heart health because they can lower inflammation in the body.
Because berries are high in fiber, eating this salad can make you feel fuller and help your stomach.
It’s hard to believe that a fast food chain can offer such a healthy meal, but here it is! We would definitely suggest Chick-fil-A’s market salad.
8. Subway Turkey Sandwich with Veggies
With 41,600 sites around the world, you can find a Subway restaurant almost anywhere (via Statista).
So, if you don’t have any other choices, you should be able to find a Subway and get a quick meal there.
The Oven Roasted Turkey Sandwich with lots of vegetables is the best thing you can get at this sandwich shop.
First of all, Healthline says that turkey meat is a good source of energy and has a lot of B vitamins.
Add to that the fact that you can make your own sandwich, and you could have a very healthy meal.
Because Subway has so many veggie toppings, you can add more fiber and micronutrients to your sandwich with each topping you add.
What should we always get? We love the six-inch sub on whole bread with turkey, mustard, mayonnaise, green bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, olives, spinach, and cucumber.
Healthline says that these vegetables add a lot of taste and nutrients without adding a lot of calories or fat.
9. Panera Baja Bowl
The menu at Panera has a lot of healthy burgers, salads, soups, and other foods that will fill you up when you’re hungry.
But the Panera Baja Bowl is our favorite healthy item on the menu. This dish is full of taste because it has brown rice, quinoa, chicken, black bean corn salsa, salsa verde, grape tomatoes, avocado, feta, and Greek yogurt.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, quinoa is a comprehensive source of plant-based protein and a whole grain.
It’s also a good source of folate and has a lot of fiber. The Baja Bowl has a lot of energy because it has both chicken and quinoa.
Healthline says that the higher protein level can help you feel and stay full longer, build muscle mass, and even keep the weight off.
Put us down! The next time we go to Panera, we’re going to order this bowl.
10. Arby’s Roast Turkey with Swiss Wrap
At many fast food places, it’s hard to find something healthy to eat. This is especially true at Arby’s.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that you should limit how much sodium and saturated fat you eat.
Many of their food items have a lot of both. One choice, the Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap stands out from the rest.
It has roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, leaf lettuce, red onion, tomato, mayo, spicy brown mustard, and all of those things packed into an artisan wrap.
As far as macronutrients go, this meal is well-balanced. It has about 530 calories, 42 grams of carbs, and 37 grams of protein.
Healthline says that the high protein content makes you feel fuller or more satisfied, so you might not be as tempted to eat an order of fries.
Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap from Arby’s will keep you full until your next meal, unlike some healthy foods that make you hungry and want to snack unnecessarily.
11. Burger King Impossible Whopper
Okay, listen to us! We know that Impossible meat and other plant-based meat substitutes don’t have the best reputation.
Harvard Medical School says that these substitutes for meat are highly processed and full of heavy fat, which is also true of beef.
The American Heart Association says that people who eat a lot of saturated fat are more likely to get heart disease.
Harvard Medical School, on the other hand, says that these plant-based options to meat can be a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin B12, which is hard for vegetarians to get enough of.
Because of this, we think the Impossible Whopper from Burger King can be a good choice if you’re out and about and don’t have many healthy options.
This burger has a plant-based “meat” patty made by Impossible, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, pickles, onion, and mayonnaise.
If you haven’t tried one of these yet, you’ll probably be shocked by how tasty and juicy it is.
12. Carl’s Jr. Big Hamburger
The Big Hamburger from Carl’s Jr. is a classic fast-food burger. It has a beef patty, dill pickles, onions, mustard, and ketchup on a sesame seed bun.
You probably didn’t think a hamburger would be on this list of healthy orders, but at about 480 calories, it’s a pretty low-calorie choice for a full meal.
The Mayo Clinic says that watching calories can be an effective way to lose weight when combined with staying active.
If you stick to your goal of 500 calories per meal, your overall daily intake will be 1,500 calories.
Eating Well says that a guideline of 1,500 calories per day can be a good way to lose weight.
This is because everyone has different caloric needs, exercise routines, and health issues.
We don’t think the Carl’s Jr. hamburger is the best choice because it doesn’t have a lot of vegetables, but it will do in a pinch.
13. In-N-Out Protein Style
We need to know: Are you on the In-N-Out or Five Guys team? We are all for In-N-Out, mostly because their In-N-Out Burger Sauce is so good.
Compared to other fast food chains, In-N-Out has a smaller menu, but did you know they also have a not-so-secret selection?
On the chain’s website, you can find a list of hidden menu items. Some of the most interesting are the Triple Triple, Quad Quad, Animal Style (a mustard-cooked patty with grilled onions and pickles), and the Protein Style.
This last order is our favorite because when you order a cheeseburger or hamburger “protein style,” it comes wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of a bun.
According to In-N-Out, this small change will save you 150 calories and 28 grams of carbs.
This is also a great option for people who don’t eat gluten or who want to eat less carbs.
14. Shake Shack Chicken Shack
Even though fried chicken isn’t always the best choice, we had to include it because, according to Healthline, chicken is thinner than beef.
WebMD says that deep-frying anything is bad for your heart, but chicken is a great source of energy. Not only that, but it tastes great!
The Shake Shack Chicken Stack has lettuce, pickles, buttermilk herb mayo, and a bun on top of crispy fried chicken.
Pickles are interesting because they are good for you in some ways. Shocked? We were too.
Still, Nourish by WebMD says that pickles can help you lose weight and lower your risk of heart disease because they are mostly water and vinegar.
The source says that it has been shown that vinegar slows down the rate at which your body breaks down carbs, which is a pretty cool thing.
We’re definitely going to use that as a reason to eat one of these bad boys today.
15. Freddy’s Veggie Burger
Freddy’s is known for its large menu, which includes a wide range of ice cream desserts. We know this because we’ve eaten there.
The Veggie Burger, on the other hand, is a surprisingly healthy choice on the menu. This vegetarian burger is made with black beans, which Clean Eating Magazine says are full of fibre and protein from plants.
Also, the source says that black beans can help you lose weight, take care of your gut, and keep your heart healthy. Why wouldn’t you like it?
Freddy’s Veggie Burger has 440 calories, 15 grams of fat, 49 grams of carbs, and 23 grams of protein.
For a meatless meal with so few calories, it has a lot of protein. Even though it doesn’t taste like a meat alternative like Impossible Burgers or Beyond Meat, this tastes like a traditional veggie burger, which we like.
The next time you go to Freddy’s, you should try this veggie burger. You will not be let down.
16. Sonic Grilled Cheese
We can’t think of anything better than Sonic’s Grilled Cheese to take us back to when we were kids.
Even if you compare it to mom’s, their grilled cheese really stands out. It doesn’t get much better than buttered Texas toast and melted American cheese.
Even though this menu item doesn’t have any veggies and lacks many micronutrients because of that, this grilled cheese is a simple, low-calorie choice that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.
Sonic’s Grilled Cheese has 19 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein. It has 430 calories.
Even though the total number of calories isn’t too high, if you are really trying to be healthy and watch how many calories you eat, we probably wouldn’t suggest getting a side of tater tots.
But we know that’s a lot to ask, so if you have to get them, make it a special event and we won’t judge you.
Some examples are black bean burgers, chicken sandwiches, and soups with lots of vegetables.
People often think of fast food as a bad way to eat, but many big fast food restaurants have a surprising number of healthy options.
Look for fast food items that are high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients and low in calories, fat, and salt.
Yes, many fast food places now have choices for people with special diets, like vegans, vegetarians, people who can’t eat gluten, and people on the keto diet.
You should only eat fast food once in a while and focus on a diet that is mostly made up of whole, raw foods.
Yes, you can lose weight even if you eat fast food if you make good choices and watch how much you eat.
Neither option is very healthy, but a grilled chicken sandwich or a black bean burger is better than a burger or hot dog.
It’s fine to eat fast food once in a while, but you should choose healthy options and watch how much you eat.
People often think of fast food as a bad way to eat, but many big fast-food restaurants have a surprising number of healthy options.
From grilled chicken sandwiches to salads with lots of vegetables, these options are lower in calories, fat, and salt than other items on the menu.
This makes them a great choice for people who want to eat fast food without hurting their health.
To keep the calories down, watch how much you eat, skip the cheese and mayo, and choose veggies or fruit as sides.
And, as always, try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of whole, raw foods.
So don’t feel bad the next time you’re hungry and want fast food. Try one of the 16 Fast Food Orders That Are Surprisingly Good For You and enjoy a meal on the go without feeling guilty.