The Alli fast food guide: Menu selections in fast food chains that stay under 15 grams of fat
As the first non-prescription diet drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Alli, flies off the shelves of pharmacies all across America, users of this product have to be very concerned about one important number. It’s fat grams, 15 of them, an amount that dieters need to restrict themselves to at each meal.
Why? Alli (pronounced Al-eye), at a half dose of its prescription forebear Orlistat, prevents the body from breaking down and absorbing fat, or at least about 25 percent of what you consume. Perfect you may think, now you can have your cake (or burrito, or pizza, or McMuffin) and eat it too.
Not so fast, dieters. There are consequences. When the body doesn’t absorb fat, it gets pushed along the digestive system to that point of exit. And that’s where the trouble starts.
Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) uses the following terms to describe what the side effects might be: "Oily Spotting," "Flatus with Discharge," "Fecal Urgency," "Oily Evacuation," and "Fecal Incontinence." Get the picture? This is why independent dietitians and others are urging a go-slow approach to using Alli.
Christine Palumbo, a registered dietitian in the Chicago area told the Chicago Tribune Redeye tabloid that a way to limit these effects is to restrict one’s meals to 15 grams or less of fat. “Everyone’s constitution or system is a bit different, so some may be able to get by with a few more grams of fat per meal, and some will have to get by with a bit less than what’s recommended,” she said.
Also of concern: in restricting fat from our diets, it's still possible to consume lots of calories, generally in the form of processed sugar. Remember Snackwells cookies and other no-fat products most popular before its backlash, the low-carb Atkins era?
[On the plus side, Alli at best will teach people how to eat lower-fat foods in moderation, better yet to eat healthier foods overall. Clinical studies show that Orlistat and Alli users did best when their diets evolved to healthier eating, not just a low-fat diet, and if they incorporated exercise into their lives.]
The tough part is most of us don’t have a fat-gram reading instrument when eating out in restaurants – just the kind of place where you wear nice clothes, are in good company and want to retain composure. So you’re out of luck there. Our recommendation: get a salad with no dressing, at least until you understand what foods you can tolerate while taking Alli. for more on how to eat in finer dining establishments, see "How to order lower-fat, lower-calorie entrees in restaurants: find your most nutritious meals on any menu" by this writer.
Fortunately, fast food restaurants have been forced to publish the nutritional content in their foods, most of which are available online and in their restaurants. Following are excerpts from nutrition content tables supplied by several national quick service chains: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Hardee's, Jack In The Box, Subway, Chipotle Grill and Taco Bell. Only the items with 15 or fewer grams of fat are included.
There are a surprisingly large number of items under 15 grams of fat under the Golden Arches. Just be careful about excluding all types of special sauces (mayonnaise is the base ingredient).
Hamburger – 9 grams fat
Cheeseburger – 12 grams fat
Premium Grilled Chicken Classic – 10 grams fat
Small French fries – 13 grams fat
Chicken McNuggets/4 piece – 10 grams fat
Chicken McNuggets/6 piece – 15 grams fat
Salads (does NOT include dressing)
Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken – 10 grams fat
Asian Salad (no chicken) – 7 grams fat
Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken – 9 grams fat
Bacon Ranch Salad (no chicken) – 7 grams fat
Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken – 6 grams fat
Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken – 13 grams fat
Caesar Salad (no chicken) – 4 grams fat
Snack Size Fruit & Walnut Salad – 8 grams fat
Dressing that are low fat
Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette – 3 grams fat
Newman’s Own Low Fat Family Recipe Italian – 2.5 grams fat
Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger – 2.5 grams fat
Egg McMuffin – 12 grams fat
English Muffin – 1.5 grams fat (no butter)
Biscuit, regular size – 10 grams fat
Biscuit, large size – 14 grams fat
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait (with and without granola) – 2 grams fat
Apple Dippers with Caramel Dip – 0.5 grams fat
Desserts and beverages
Several items and this and other restaurants fall under the 15 gram fat threshold. However, those are not included here because in most cases they are higher in calories, comprised largely of sugar, which should not be the basis of a meal to an individual focused on weight loss. The exceptions are the fruit-based items, listed last above, which do carry beneficial nutrients and fiber not found in, say, sugared sodas.
There are low-fat meals to be had at Wendy’s – but as with McDonald’s, just be careful to stay away from most dressings on salads and mayonnaise and other sauces on the sandwiches.
Mandarin chicken Salad 2 grams fat
Add a packet of crispy noodles for 2 more grams fat
Caesar Chicken Salad – 5 grams fat
Add garlic croutons for 2.5 more grams fat but hold the Caesar dressing, which contains 13 grams fat
Fat Free French is truly fat free (0 grams fat)
Reduced fat creamy ranch has 8 grams fat
Low Fat Honey Mustard has 3 grams fat
Jr. Hamburger – 9 grams fat
Jr. Cheeseburger – 13 grams fat
Han & Cheese Sandwich, Kids’ Meal – 6 grams fat
Turkey & cheese Sandwich, Kids’ Meal – 6 grams fat
Ultimate Chicken Grill – 8 grams fat
Crispy Chicken Sandwich – 14 grams fat*
Roasted Turkey 7 Basil Pesto Frescata – 15 grams fat*
*I recommend going about these last two sandwiches carefully. They dance close to the Alli 15 grams of fat precipice, and one errant dollop of mayonnaise by a new kitchen employee could push you over the edge.
Like most of what’s found in hamburger joints, the presence of red meat, deep fryers and the words “crispy” and “croissants” on the menu do not bode well for fat avoiders. Still, there are several items (including small fries, small onion rings, a ham omelet sandwich and Cheesy Tots) that have fewer than 15 fat grams:
TENDERGRILL® Garden Salad – 9 grams fat
Side Garden Salad (no dressing) – 0 grams fat
Hamburger -- 12 grams fat
TENDERGRILL® Chicken Sandwich *with No Mayo -- 10 grams fat
Five-piece Crown-shaped CHICKEN TENDERS® -- 12 grams fat
French Fries - salted (Small) -- 13 grams fat
French Fries - unsalted (Small) -- 13 grams fat
Onion Rings (Small) – 7 grams fat
Ham Omelet Sandwich – 14 grams fat
French Toast Sticks (3 pieces) – 12 grams fat
CHEESY TOTS™ (6 pieces) – 12 grams fat
MOTT'S® Strawberry Flavored Applesauce * -- 0 grams fat
Minute Maid Apple Juice – 0 grams fat
Minute Maid Orange Juice – O grams fat
HERSHEY®'S 1% Chocolate Lowfat Milk – 2.5 grams fat
HERSHEY®'S 1% Lowfat Milk – 2.5 grams fat
Hardee's 2/-Pound Monster Thickburger has 108 grams of fat. If you gathered a little Alli Hardee's party, that would require seven people and a dog (for the remaining 3 grams of fat) if the Thickburger was your choice. At breakfast, it would take four of you to eat a Loaded Breakfast Burrito, whichcontains 51 grams of fat. Individually, you're smartest to go with the following:
Charboiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich – 4 grams fat
Hamburger – 12 grams fat
Kids' size small fries – 12 grams fat
Pancake platter (breakfast) – 5 grams fat
Sunrise croissant – 10 grams fat
Tempted by the sides and condiments? Here's what you'd get:
Cheese slices (American or Swiss) – 4-5 grams fat
Bacon (two strips) – 4 grams fat
Small serving mashed potatoes (no butter or gravy) – 2 grams fat
Chicken gravy – 1 gram fat (surprising)
Packets of either hot sauce, or ketchup – 0 grams fat
Packet of horseradish sauce – 2 grams fat
Packet of mayonnaise – 9 grams fat
Honey mustard dipping sauce – 9 grams fat
Jack In The Box
With the signature Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger holding 77 grams of fat, it is truly out of the box thinking to expect a lower fat meal at JITB restaurants. You gotta be careful, but a few items stay under the 15 gram limit (note: nutrition data here does not include condiments or dressing):
Asian Chicken Salad (with Grilled Chicken) - 1.5 grams fat*
Asian Chicken Salad (with Crispy Chicken - 13 grams fat
Side Salad - 3 grams fat
Southwest Chicken Salad (with Grilled Chicken - 12 grams fat
Hamburger – 14 grams fat
Chicken Fajita Pita - no salsa - 9 grams fat
Beef Monster Taco - 14 grams fat
Egg Roll (1) - 6 grams fat
Regular Beef - 8 grams fat
Stuffed Jalapenos (3) – 13 grams fat
Bacon Breakfast Jack – 14 grams fat
Breakfast Jack – 12 grams fat
Hash Brown (1) – 10 grams fat
Kids’ Meals Chicken Breast Strips (2) - 12 grams fat
Natural Cut Fries - kids portion - 11 grams fat
*The Asian Chicken Salad with grilled, not crispy, chicken also delivers 22 grams of protein -- an excellent choice for anyone who exercises.
Yeah, Jared lost a lot of weight eating here and you might too. But that means no mayo, no oil and no 12-inch subs – however, doubling the meat portion does not double the fat, thankfully. A smart way to make a meal here more filling is to get the soup (for more on that, see also the article on Energy Density by this Hub author).
Six-inch sub sandwiches (includes wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, pickles and olive, but no oil or mayonnaise). DM means “double meat,” which as the numbers illustrate does not double the fat content.
Ham – 5 grams fat (DM: 7 grams fat)
Oven Roasted Chicken Breast – 5 grams fat (DM: 8 grams fat)
Roast Beef – 5 grams fat (DM: 7 grams fat)
Subway Club – 6 grams fat (DM: 8 grams fat)
Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki – 5 grams fat (DM: 7 grams fat)
Sweet Onion Steak Teriyaki – 9 grams fat
Barbecue Chicken – 6 grams fat
Bourbon Chicken – 5 grams fat
Turkey Breast – 4.5 grams fat (DM: 8 grams fat)
Turkey Breast & Ham – 5 grams fat (DM: 7 grams fat)
Veggie Delite – 3 grams fat
Steak & cheese – 12 grams fat
Subway Melt – 12 grams fat
Gardenburger – 7 grams fat
Turkey Breast with Honey Mustard – 4.5 grams fat
Turkey Pastrami _ 6 grams fat
Tuscan Chicken – 8 grams fat
Veggi-Max – 8 grams fat
Deli-style Sandwiches (includes deli roll, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, pickles and olives)
Ham – 4 grams fat
Roast Beef – 4.5 grams fat
Turkey Breast – 3.5 grams fat
Turkey Breast (no Chipotle Sauce) – 6 grams fat
Salads (no dressing or croutons, but can include fat free Italian dressing)
Grilled Chicken& Baby Spinach
Subway Club – 4 grams fat
Veggie Delite – 1 grams fat
Breakfast on Deli Round
Honey Mustard Ham & Egg – 5 grams fat
Western with Cheese – 13 grams fat
Honey Mustard Ham & Egg – 7 grams fat
All range from about 1 grams fat (vegetable beef, tomato garden vegetable and minestrone) to 11 grams fat (Brown and Wild Rice with Chicken)
Fat-free condiments are
Honey Mustard Sauce/Fat Free, mustard (both yellow and deli brown), vinegar, and Fat Free Red Wine Vinaigrette and Sweet Onion Sauce (be sure to avoid the full fat versions).
Also, all vegetables (except olives) are fat free - -so pile them on.
The numbers from this popular chain probably are close to what is found elsewhere in the “health-mex” style chains. Unfortunately, no full burrito or tortilla offerings come out to less than the target 15 grams of fat. You can see this when you construct an item that includes the shell, meat, vegetables and condiments. The only winning combination is in a bowl (“bol”) item that uses lettuce (0 grams fat), red or green tomatillo (1 grams fat), tomato or corn salsa (1 grams fat) and chicken (11 grams fat), steak (12 grams fat) or carnitas (12 grams fat). Barbacoa is 16 grams fat, so either eat that in a half portion or not at all.
Flour tortillas (13”) – 11 grams fat
Crispy Taco shells – 9 grams fat
Rice – 7 grams
Black and Pinto Beans – 1 G
Fajita Vegetables (fried in oil) – 8 g
This chain touts a list of items under 10 grams of fat, all under the banner of "Fresco style." Those itmes are:
Crunchy Taco – 8 grams fat
Crunchy Taco Supreme – 98 grams fat
Soft Taco/Beef – 7 grams fat
Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco – 4 grams fat
Grilled Steak Soft Taco – 4.5 grams fat
Bean Burrito – 7 grams fat
7-Layer Burrito – 8 grams fat
Chili Cheese Burrito – 8 grams fat
1/2 opund Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito – 7 grams fat
Enchirito/Beef – 8 grams fat
MexiMelt – 7 grams fat
Steak Grilled Taquitos – 7 grams fat
Mexican Rice – 3 grams fat
Pintos 'n Cheese - 2 grams fat
Apparently, any item on the Taco Bell menu can be made "Fresco Style" if it contains cheese or sauce. They substitute a tomato-based "Fiesta Salsa" for the fattier cheese and sauce, a trick you might employ at home as well.
Good luck! And check out other articles on diet and exercise from this Hub writer – because if you truly want to lose weight and keep it off, exercise and all-around smart eating is an essential part of the plan.
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Russ Klettke is a certified trainer, speaker and author of "A Guy's Gotta Eat, the regular guy's guide to eating smart" with Deanna Conte, MS RD LD (Marlowe & Co. NY 2005), available where books are sold and in more than 70 public library systems worldwide.
Make smart eating a natural part of your life
More on Alli
- myalli.com – official GlaxoSmithKlein website
alli™ is the only FDA approved, over-the-counter weight loss product.
- Blog details for Alli Diet Pills - Blog Toplist
Blog Details for Alli Diet Pills
- ScienceDaily: Does Orlistat, OTC Diet Pill Alli, Live Up To Its Name?
Alli is the first and only FDA-approved OTC product for weight loss. It is available in stores June 15. Dr. James Anderson, UK HealthCare weight loss researcher, studied the effects of the drug on mildly to moderately overweight individuals and found
- All About Alli, the Weight Loss Pill
Experts explain the benefits and side effects of Alli, the over-the-counter diet pill.
- Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest - Diet & Nutrition - MSNBC.com
Dieters have been flocking to drugstores to pick up Alli, the first over-the-counter weight-loss pill to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, despite the scary warning: Stray too far from your low-fat diet, you just might poop your pants.
ABC News reports
Other smarter eating resources
- General tips on eating healthier in restaurants
What are some healthy fast food choices for adults and children? Provides general guidelines for eating out and staying healthy.
- A Guy's Gotta Eat (the guide to daily smart and easy eating)
Russ Klettke teaches regular guys about how to eat and cook healthy meals. Fast, easy recipes.