We all do our best to eat well, work out, and live the healthiest life possible. But every now and then you just can’t help getting a hankering for some fast food. The longer you try to hold out, the more you want it — and eventually you give in, get in the car, and hit the drive-through. But do you really want the guilt of a 1,000-calorie meal on your conscience as you drive home? There just have to be healthy options at Burger King, right?
Sure, you could always get a salad or one of the guaranteed healthy options every fast food place is offering these days. But when you get that craving, veggies aren’t going to hit the spot. So instead of giving up fast food entirely, we went through the menus and figured out what some of the better options are. You don’t have to eat healthy when you hit up McDonald’s — but now, you can at least eat a little healthier.
Let’s be honest. If you were really trying to stick to your diet, you’d just cook something at home. And if you want to do that, we’ve got tons of healthy recipes for you to try out. But if you’re ready to give in to temptation, then just follow our handy “eat this, not that” fast food guide. After all, just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you can’t have some chicken nuggets every now and then. And hey, if you dip them in a little ranch, we won’t tell.
Check out our “eat this, not that” fast food plan below to see what your best options are at all of your favorite fast food joints — and what you should definitely avoid.
Eat This Not That McDonald's
Healthy food at McDonald's — opt for the 6-piece nuggets.
A Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese will ring you in at about 770 calories. Instead, opt for the much tastier Chicken McNuggets at 270 calories for a 6-piece. The nuggets get a bad rap (remember all those nightmarish pink slime photos?), but they are made with real chicken — and they still pack 15 grams of protein.
Eat This Not That Taco Bell
Healthy Taco Bell options — opt for the Steak Burrito Supreme.
Skip the XXL Grilled Stuft Beef Burrito and remember that just because it has "grilled" in the name, it's not automatically healthy. It's got more than twice as many calories (870 to be exact) as the Steak Burrito Supreme (340) — and also double the fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbs. Yikes.
Eat This Not That Arby's
Healthy Choices at Arby's — the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich wins every time.
When it comes to "eat this, not that," Arby's might surprise you. This may seem counterintuitive (isn't turkey healthier than beef? Doesn't that bun have more carbs than a slice of bread?), but the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich is actually the healthier choice. Despite how good the Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Sandwich sounds (after all, it's got roast turkey!), it's actually got about 800 calories in it. The Classic Roast Beef Sandwich only has 360 calories and less than half the carbs.
Eat This Not That Pizza Hut
Healthy Pizza Hut options — opt for the Veggie Lover's pizza.
An 18-inch Meat Lover's pizza will score you about 670 calories — but the Veggie Lover's only has about 510 calories. Unless you're planning on eating a whole pizza yourself, though, these are both pretty good deals. But why not get a daily serving of veggies while you're already binging on cheesy-bready goodness?
Eat This Not That Burger King
Healthy Food at Burger King — opt for the Bacon Cheeseburger.
Looking for Burger King's healthy options but still want that chargrilled goodness? (OK, maybe not healthy, but at least healthier.) Rejoice, because our "eat this, not that" Burger King guide includes bacon. The Bacon Cheeseburger has only 300 calories. Compare that to its big brother, the Bacon King Sandwich, which has about 1,150 calories and is slathered with mayo instead of mustard — you're basically eating a salad. Plus, one less beef patty means more room for some veggies without making your burger impossible to eat.
Eat This Not That KFC
Healthy Food at KFC — opt for the Chicken Littles sandwich.
Again, this one might seem a little strange — they're both chicken, right? How could the one with the bread bun be healthier? But the Chicken Littles sandwich is only about 300 calories, way less than a large order of Popcorn Nuggets, which are about 620 calories and 1,820 mg sodium. Skip the mayo on the sandwich and you're down to 240 calories while keeping 14 grams of protein. On our "eat this, not that" fast-food guide, lunch doesn't have to be a boring salad.
Eat This Not That Subway
Healthy Subway sandwich — opt for the Oven Roasted Chicken sandwich.
You might've already guessed that the Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt is not exactly your healthiest option. It's 590 calories in a 6-inch sub, with 270 calories from fat. Consider switching to the Oven Roasted Chicken sandwich at 320 calories and 45 calories from fat instead. Better yet, pack on the veggies. With six times less fat and half the sodium, the Oven Roasted Chicken sandwich is a pretty clear choice.
Eat This Not That Wendy's
Healthy food at Wendy's — opt for the Crispy Chicken Sandwich.
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich has all the goodness of fast food for only 330 calories — a way better deal than the Baconator at 950 calories. Plus, the sandwich has just as much fiber as the burger, and still offers 14 grams of protein. Skip the mayo for an even healthier meal.
Eat This Not That Panda Express
Healthy Panda Express options — opt for the Mushroom Chicken.
A serving size of the Mushroom Chicken is only about 170 calories, but the Beijing Beef is 470 calories. And with roughly the same amount of protein in each (12 grams in the Mushroom Chicken, 13 in Beijing Beef), it's easier to pick the option with half the total fat and 20 grams less sugar.
Eat This Not That Chik-fil-A
Healthy Chik-fil-A options — opt for the Grilled Chicken Sandwich.
The Spicy Deluxe Sandwich may be delicious, but at 540 calories, you're better off going with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. It has almost as much protein (29 grams instead of 34), a quarter of the fat, and at 310 calories, it's the lighter option.