Let’s be real here, there are times where we just don’t have the time to spend cooking a healthy meal at home and need to grab something real quick. Whether you get home late and don’t feel like cooking or you are on the run, you can eat healthy fast food if you know what to look for. I’ll share with you the 4 ways to start making healthier fast food choices when you have to eat something quick.
1.) Watch Your Portion Size
This can be a blessing or a curse depending on if you’re bulking or cutting.
For bulking I use fast food as an opportunity to reach my calorie surplus goal. This means I’ll order a high calorie meal that fits within my macro ratio. No, it doesn’t mean I get whatever the hell I want and Supersize it just because. You’ll end up getting fat if you do this. Just be mindful on what you can and can’t eat by looking at what each menu choice has to offer.
When I cut, eating fast food can be tricky. It’s best to plan your meal ahead of time if you can. That means planning the calories and macros into your daily limit. If I find myself in a situation where I can’t, I will opt for grilled options and sometimes opt for a salad that usually includes grilled chicken in it. The point is to be mindful you’re not going over your calorie limit or disrupting your macro ratios for the day.
2.) Pay Close Attention to the Condiments, Sauces, and Dressings
This is what gets people when they order fast food; I cannot count how many times I’ve seen people try to order healthier options at fast food restaurants by choosing a salad that is in fact a great meal option and then choosing a creamy dressing to smother it. What they don’t realize is their favorite dressing just added an extra 450 calories, a lot of fat, and now surpasses the calorie count of their favorite burger.
Pay close attention to the next sentence…
The dressing is what makes or breaks the salad you choose.
This is especially true at the more common chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. I get it, you want flavor in your salad and that creamy goodness gives the salad an edible flavor which doesn’t make it taste like… well… grass. My favorite dressing is Ranch so I feel your pain when eating salad. However, there ARE some healthier alternatives that do pack a lot of flavor.
If you choose to opt for something different than a salad there are plenty of other healthier fast food choices out there you can choose from. It is important you watch out for the “secret” sauces and other condiments put on the sandwich you are looking to get. Sometimes that sauce or condiment can add hundreds of additional calories. By just simply opting for no sauce or condiments you can turn an unhealthy fast food choice into a healthy fast food choice.
3.) Always Go for Grilled Rather Than Fried
This mainly pertains to chicken and sometimes fish. Grilled chicken, even at fast food restaurants is a great option for a meal. It contains a high amount of protein, its low in fat, and contains almost no carbs. Fried breaded versions of the same sandwich pack in a bunch of bad fats and carbs that can make the meal unhealthy. Many fast food companies market their grilled options as healthy, but be careful about this. As stated in the #2 reason grilled options can also have unhealthy sauces and condiments. By opting out of those while choosing a grilled meat will help ensure your meal stays healthy.
4.) Watch What You Drink
You’re next in line to order at your local fast food restaurant and you’re starving. You decide to order a grilled chicken sandwich meal and state to “hold the mayo” and order a side salad instead of fries with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. You’re feeling good about your decision when suddenly the cashier says, “What would you like to drink?” and you reply, “I’ll take a Coke”. Wait… hold on a second… a soda?
Soda contains hundreds of “empty” calories and is completely unnecessary. Instead of getting a soda, try opting for water instead. Most fast food chains now offer bottle water as an option for a drink in today’s more health conscious society. Here’s something you might not have known, all restaurants in the US are required by law to serve water at no charge and this includes fast food restaurants, so next time you’re out at a fast food restaurant you can order a sandwich or salad without the meal and ask for a cup of water. This will not only save you some money while you’re going out to eat, but will save you from consuming unnecessary calories and ruining your diet.
Don’t bother with so-called “zero-calorie” sodas or “diet” soda either. These sodas have artificial sweeteners that have shown in studies to cause tumors in rats. While there are no studies showing similar results in humans, would you really want to take a chance like that on your health?
Making Smarter Fast Food Choices
By following the above advice you will be able to go into any fast food restaurant and start making healthier fast food choices. So the next time you need a quick bite to eat don’t feel too bad about going to a fast food restaurant because you’ll now be able to make smarter meal decisions on-the-fly.
Speaking of smarter meal decisions, what is your favorite go-to healthy fast food meal? I’m always looking for additional healthy meal choices when I am on-the-go.