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The Best Fast Food Meals for a Diet

Updated on February 16, 2020
Matthew Ryczko profile image

Nutrition expert, health coach, and long time WW (formerly Weight Watchers) member.

KFC Double Down Sandwich... possibly the most disgustingly unhealthy fast food creation ever. This is NOT The Best Fast Food... for anyone... ever!  _
KFC Double Down Sandwich... possibly the most disgustingly unhealthy fast food creation ever. This is NOT The Best Fast Food... for anyone... ever! _ | Source

By popular demand- I've put together a list of items from the top fast food chains that I recommend as an occasional treat that won't derail your weight management goals.

Let me first say that I do not recommend eating fast food meals on a diet if you don't already! Fast food is not healthy (and watch out for trusting "healthy options" like salads too). But I realize that many people, including myself, enjoy the indulgence, and it can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet when you are smart about balance and moderation.

All of these sandwich and entrée options are around 250 calories (leaving you some room for a healthy side and beverage) and under 10g of fat. Or click for a list of Weight Watchers Points Plus values.

**UPDATED: Now includes tips for putting together a full meal from these items!

Restaurant
Item
KFC
Honey BBQ Snacker
Pizza Hut
1 Cheese Breadstick
Little Ceasers
3 Crazy Breadsticks
Little Ceasers
1 piece Pepperoni Cheese Bread
Little Ceasers
1 slice Hot n Ready Cheese Only Pizza
Papa John's
1 Breadstick
White Castle
Original Slider, no cheese
White Castle
Chicken Breast with Cheese
White Castle
Chicken Supreme

How often do you eat fast food?

See results

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The wrappers and containers tell the story
The wrappers and containers tell the story
Restaurant
Item
Wendy's
Jr Hamburger, no cheese
Wendy's
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, half-size, with pomegranate vinaigrette
Wendy's
Small Chili
Wendy's
Grilled Chicken Go Wrap
Arby's
Jr Chicken, no mayo
Arby's
Jr Roast Beef
Arby's
Jr Ham melt
Arby's
Chopped Farmhouse Roasted Chicken Salad without Bacon, light italian dressing
Arby's
Kids 2 piece Prime-cut Chicken Tender
Subway
6 inch Veggie Sub without cheese, no sauces

(article Continued Below)

Subway may not be as healthy as you think. A $5 Footlong can pack as much as 1500 calories!!
Subway may not be as healthy as you think. A $5 Footlong can pack as much as 1500 calories!! | Source
Restaurant
Item
McDonalds
Regular Hamburger, no cheese
McDonalds
Chipotle BBQ or Honey Mustard Grilled Snackwrap
McDonalds
Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken
McDonalds
Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken (or two salads without Chicken)
McDonalds
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
McDonalds
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal Without Brown Sugar

(article Continued Below)

I just wanted a BigMac!!
I just wanted a BigMac!!
Source

As far as fries... I'm sorry, most of these rated worse than many of the single sandwich options. If you're craving fries like crazy- order only a junior or small fry and have it with your low calorie meal from home. Otherwise, consider carrying around an apple to fill the role of side or desert when eating out. You can also take your sandwiches home and oven roast some healthy sweet potato fries. Another option is a plain baked potato, if you enjoy them without any butter or sourcream. (There also aren't many diet food options for any sort of ice cream treat or chicken nugget, so I recommend the same for these items- either treat yourself as a component of a healthier home meal or replace them with something healthier from home)

For beverages- water is always best, but most places now have sugar-free and fat-free coffee drinks and no calorie teas. Not only are these flavorful alternatives to soda, they're high in antioxidants.

Fast food should be an OCCASIONAL TREAT- a reward for some achievement, or something to look forward to at the end of the week or once a month (around the time all your bills are due?), but it doesn't have to be such a splurge that you throw aside everything you know about eating right. And because we are lucky enough to live in a free market society- the more you demand healthier options, the more that restaurants have to make them available. Just look at how much the menus have changed in the last 10-15 years! Stop buying the crap, and they'll stop selling it.

Oh, and one last note... sorry, but... eat breakfast at home! :-D

If you found this information helpful, please use the Share button below to pass it on, as someone else may find it helpful. That's why I write every hub I write- what good is a gift in your pocket when you can share it with others?

Putting it all together (NEW!)

ADDED BY POPULAR DEMAND:

Okay, all the fairly raw data is nice, but how about some examples of how you use these items to build a healthier fast food treat?

Absolutely! Here's a few examples...

Your family wants to do pizza. You don't want to be left out. That's okay. Order up that crowd-pleasing pizza! Enjoy 3 Crazy Bread sticks or even a slice of the Hot n' Ready pizza, with a healthy, homemade salad. I personally really like this one, by K@ri. I bet they'll want to try your salad too! (Of course, if you prefer Pizza Hut or Papa John's, it's one breadstick and you're out, unfortunately. But that can still be nice along with a healthy homemade option.)

Craving a McDonald's burger? Indulge with the regular hamburger and a Premium Ceasar Salad without Chicken. Wash that down with a small Diet Coke- it is a treat, after all. Even though regular use of artificial sweeteners can be counterproductive to your weightloss goals, a single treat isn't going to be that bad. Of course, there's always unsweetened tea or one of their no-sugar, low-calories McCafe options. Not feeling the salad? Have a fruit and yogurt parfait instead!

What about Subway? I know it says 6 inch veggie, no cheese, no sauces. That's based on the published data of what's available at all Subway stores. Ask your Sandwich Artist about low-fat sauces, and ask for it light. There's usually a sticker on the front of the case telling you which options suit your individual diet needs. Many locations have also rolled out new salad options, which I haven't seen new nutrition data on yet. Ask about those while you're there too! Almost all of the calories come from the bread, and surprisingly, the flatbread isn't really better in that respect, though it is a tasty alternative.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Matthew Kandik

Comments

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    • profile image

      toni 

      4 years ago

      Thank you! I value all your options when dining very helpful.

    • Matthew Ryczko profile imageAUTHOR

      Matthew Kandik 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Good point Mac- but don't you think that it is obvious by now that no fast food is healthy? Perhaps not and I should emphasize it. I never say that fast food is healthy but it can be part of a healthy diet- IN MODERATION. It is important in adherence for dieters that they not feel overly restricted and make change gradually. Most of us do end up, at some point, in a fast food restaurant and want to make a better choice than we are used to. In addition to anything I address here- there are preservatives, additives, fillers, high sodium and trans fats in fast food and the full picture undoubtedly reveals that it is best to avoid fast food all together. Many clients I have worked with have been unwilling to do so, but this can help them make a better, if not the best, choice.

      Thank you for the Feedback!

    • Mac171 profile image

      Mac171 

      8 years ago from UK

      I think the term 'healthy' is being thrown around a bit much here, few of the items listed could really be considered healthy...

      However I do see your point and it is a well written hub! Although I would say just avoid eating fast food completely if you're on a diet!

    • Matthew Ryczko profile imageAUTHOR

      Matthew Kandik 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Good Question! It absolutely is not. But many of us either end up there socially and are tempted, or just really enjoy the food. I myself indulge from time to time. It is still important though to be smart when ordering fast food, if you do. And definitely limit how often you treat yourself.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 

      8 years ago from India

      Is it necessary to eat in such fast-food restaurant?

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