The 11 Healthiest Fast-Food Lunches

When a quick fast-food run is your only choice, reach for one of these options to escape the restaurant with your diet unscathed.

A third of adults who eat at fast-food restaurants three or more times a week are obese, a study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease found — not surprising given the preponderance of high-fat, high-calorie, and high-salt menu items.

But at almost every chain restaurant, there are smart choices to be made. An ideal meal that won’t derail your diet is a plate that’s half fresh fruits or vegetables, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter whole grains, says Kristi King, RD, a clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “Look for grilled, baked or broiled meats versus fried,” King says, and then add a vegetable option like a side salad and apple slices or a fruit salad.

If you’re looking for a few healthy standbys to order every time you eat out, try these.

lunch 10Subway 6-inch Oven-Roasted Chicken Sandwich
370 calories
10 g fat
23 g protein
650 mg sodium
48 g carbohydrates
5 g fiber
8 g sugar
At a make-your-own sandwich spot, pile yours high with fresh vegetables, including spinach, bell peppers, lettuce, and more. Skip mayonnaise or a salad dressing, and consider adding a slice of Subway’s latest sandwich topper: avocado. Avocado might be a high-calorie fruit, but the creaminess ensures you won’t miss fatty dressings, and its fiber will help you stay full.

lunch 2

McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich

350 calories
9 g fat
28 g protein
820 mg sodium
42 g carbohydrates
3 g fiber
8 g sugar

As fast-food options go, grilled chicken sandwiches generally make better healthy lunches than hamburger patties. Pair yours with a salad and light dressing and low-fat milk or water to drink. The downside is the sodium in this sandwich might be too high if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, points out Jim White, RD, founder of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, Va. “While the calories may be below 500, the problems arise with the high levels of sodium,” he says. “These lunches may not expand the waistline, but they will cause an elevation in blood pressure.”

lunch 3

McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap

270 calories
12 grams fat
16 g protein
700 mg sodium
25 g carbohydrates
1 g fiber
2 g sugar

The size of McDonald’s snack wraps are just right — as long as you order them grilled and not fried, King says. To save on additional calories and fat, ask for the wrap without cheese or dressing. Because the small wraps might not be filling enough, add a small side to help you stay satisfied. “Look for a yogurt parfait — about 150 calories, a side salad, or fruit to pair with that snack wrap,” King suggests, along with low-fat milk to drink.

lunch 6

Arby’s Roast-Chicken Chopped Farmhouse Salad

250 calories
14 g fat
23 g protein
670 mg sodium
11 g carbohydrates
3 g fiber
5 g sugar

Arby’s has several healthy lunch options, and this salad — with its roasted, not fried, chicken and fresh vegetables — ranks among the best. To keep your salads healthy, resist high-calorie extrassuch as cheese, nuts, and full-fat dressing. Salad dressing can wildly increase your salt (and fat) intake if you don’t pay attention to how much you’re drizzling on.

lunch 9

Pizza Hut Thin N Crispy Veggie Lover’s Pizza: Two Slices, 12-Inch Pie

360 calories
12 g fat
16 mg sodium
46 g carbohydrates
1 g fiber
8 g sugar

Pizza gets a bad rap when you’re following a weight-loss plan, but it can make a healthy lunch if you can keep to two slices at a time — that’s a quarter of the 12” pie at Pizza Hut. Loading up on veggies will help you meet your recommended number of servings for the day and increase the fiber in your meal. Depending on your calorie budget, you could add ham slices for protein that could help you feel full a bit longer.

lunch 8

Smoothie King Pomegranate Punch, 20 oz.

396 calories
0 grams fat
0 g protein
1 mg sodium
95 g carbohydrates
1 g fiber
93 g sugar

Smoothie King offers several dozen 20-ounce smoothie options that are low-calorie lunches, depending on your taste and preference. The Pomegranate Punch is a smart choice because it’s loaded with antioxidants. The caveat to this diet meal? Although smoothies tend to be low in fat and salt, they can be very high in sugar and totally devoid of protein, so add a protein supplement if you’re using this as a meal replacement.

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One response to “The 11 Healthiest Fast-Food Lunches

  1. Pingback: Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap: Recipe - If You Can Read, You Can Cook·

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