Eating clean at fast food restaurants can be difficult. From the moment you walk into a fast food establishment you become bombarded with posters and advertisements tempting you to try the newest and biggest triple-bacon cheeseburger. But it’s not impossible to find something that’s fast and tasty – and that will come in at 500 calories or less.
Why 500 calories? Well, using a typical ‘healthy’ meal of 6 oz. of chicken breast, 1 cup of white rice, and 8 pieces of asparagus as an example, the caloric intake of this meal equals approximately 500 calories. We will use this meal as a benchmark for some healthy fast food options when you don’t have the time or access for your homemade chicken and rice.
With these 10 food options from some of the most popular fast food chains across America you can make healthier choices when eating on-the-go.
#1: Starbucks Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
If you’re looking for a low calorie, low fat snack to get your morning started the Reduced Fat, Turkey Bacon Breakfast sandwich is one of your best options. And, if one is not enough you can actually enjoy two of these and keep your morning meal at less than 500 calories.
Nutrition info: 230 calories, 13 g protein, 28 g carbs, 6 g fat
#2: Chipotle Barbacoa Bowl
Scared to order the Chipotle chicken? With this filling bowl of meat and vegetables you will use barbacoa as the base of your meal. But, in order to keep this fast food item around the 500 calorie mark you need to choose your ingredients wisely. Using barbacoa as your base meat, add black beans, fajita vegetables, corn salsa, tomatillo green salsa, cheese, and lettuce. By ditching the rice and using black beans you will significantly drop the calories and carbohydrates within this meal. Coming in at 505 calories this item goes slightly over the 500 calorie threshold, so if you want to lower the calories even more you can ditch the cheese or corn salsa.
Nutrition info: 505 calories, 41 g protein, 50 g carbs, 17.5 g fat
#3: Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger
A Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger from Carl’s Jr may not get the sexy, slow motion dripping commercial that most of their other items do, but nutritionally this item is the sexiest option on the menu. This burger is a great option when looking for a low calorie, low carbohydrate fast food item that will still fill you up. At only 340 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates, this turkey burger will allow you to still enjoy a burger and not feel too guilty.
Nutrition info: 340 calories, 26 g protein, 8 g carbs, 23 g fat
#4: In N Out Protein Style Cheeseburger
While not available nationwide, In N Out continues to grow across America providing fresh, made-to-order hamburgers. And, if you order smart you can enjoy the delicious taste of an In N Out burger while keeping the calories low. High calorie, high fat sauces can raise the nutritional composition of a piece of food significantly, so ordering a cheeseburger, protein style with mustard and ketchup, instead of the spread, will keep your delicious In N Out burger to only 330 calories.
Nutrition info: 330 calories, 18 g protein, 11 g carbs, 18 g fat
#5: Del Taco Carne Asada Street Taco
Quick, tasty, and a treat to enjoy on Taco Tuesday, the Carne Asada Street Tacos from Del Taco are packed with flavor and contain only 180 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 11 grams of protein per taco. With this fast food item you can enjoy two tacos and stay well below the 500 calorie mark.
Nutrition info: 180 calories, 11 g protein, 20 g carbs, 7 g fat
#6: Chick Fil A Grilled Chicken Club
If you’re looking for a tasty chicken sandwich to satisfy your hunger, look no further than the home of the chicken sandwich. With 440 calories and less than 15 grams of fat, the Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich packs 38 grams of protein. You can enjoy this sandwich ‘as-is’ for under 500 calories, but can always ditch the bacon and sauces to drop the calorie and fat levels even lower for this sandwich.
Nutrition info: 440 calories, 38 g protein, 41 g carbs, 14 g fat
#7: Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Wrap
At less than 250 calories and only 10 grams of fat, the Grilled Chicken Wrap from Wendy’s is an excellent, low calorie option as it also only has 24 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein. If you are extremely hungry and can spare the extra fat and carbohydrates you can enjoy two of these and still stay under the 500 calorie mark.
Nutrition info: 240 calories, 20 g protein, 24 g carbs, 10 g fat
#8: Panera Steak and Arugula Sandwich
Let’s step away from the chicken for a second and focus on some good old fashioned beef. For you beef lovers out there, the Steak and Arugula Sandwich from Panera bread comes in at exactly 500 calories for an entire sandwich. If you’re looking to cut the calories and fat down even more on this option, simply order the half sandwich version for half the nutritional content. This steak sandwich is a little higher on the fats and carbohydrates, but allows you to enjoy some steak and stay at that 500 calorie mark.
Nutrition info: 500 calories, 24 g protein, 51 g carbs, 19 g fat
#9: Jack in the Box Breakfast Jack
Another breakfast option when looking for something quick on your way to work in the morning, the Breakfast Jack from Jack in the Box contains only 280 calories and 11 grams of fat. You can order this breakfast sandwich with bacon, sausage, or ham and stay under the 500 calorie mark. But, if you’re looking to keep the fat content lower you should order this sandwich in the ham or bacon options.
Nutrition info: 280 calories, 16 g protein, 30 g carbs, 11 g fat
#10: Panda Express Mushroom Chicken Bowl
The key to keeping the calories, fats, and carbohydrates low at Panda Express is saying ‘neither’ at the beginning of your order. With this fast food option you want to pack your bowl with meat and veggies only. Tell them to leave out the rice and the Mushroom Chicken Bowl with veggies will satisfy your hunger while packing only 250 calories and less than 10 grams of fat.
Nutrition info: 250 calories, 16 g protein, 27 g carbs, 9.5 g fat