Best bets for nutrition at fast-food joints
Fast food can be healthier than it is — there are still all those sodium issues (almost every item served at fast-food restaurants is high in sodium) — but at the very least we can make some lower-calorie choices. Make sure to check the company website and figure out what you're going to order before you get there, not when you're waiting in line.
• Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich (without mayonnaise): 370 calories; 4.5 g fat; 50 g carbs; 32 g protein.
• Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (before dressing): 320 calories; 9 g fat; 30 g carbs; 30 g protein.
• Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken (before dressing): 260 calories; 9 g fat; 12 g carbs; 33 g protein.
• Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken (before dressing): 220 calories; 6 g fat; 12 g carbs; 30 g protein.
Fit Tip: Always choose grilled rather than crispy chicken, and hold the mayo. Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette is the best dressing at 40 calories for 2 ounces, and Newman's Own Low Fat Family Recipe Italian Dressing is 60 calories. But watch out for the others — Newman's Own Ranch dressing has a whopping 170 calories, and Newman's Own Creamy Caesar dressing has 190.
While I'm not a big fan of fried foods, keep in mind that if you go for Chicken McNuggets (six pieces) and that's all you eat, it's 280 calories. The barbecue sauce is another 50. And by the way, a simple burger is 250 calories. Again, if that's all you eat for lunch or dinner, and if it fills you up, it's not bad from a calories-only perspective.
• Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich without the sauce: 340 calories; 7 g fat, 41 g carbs; 29 g protein.
• Plain 10-ounce Baked Potato with Buttery Best Spread: 320 calories; 6 g fat; 61 g carbs; 7 g protein.
• Two quarter-pound Classic Singles without buns and mayo: 480 calories; 31 g fat; 11 g carbs; 41 g protein.
• Mandarin Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken Fillet with Almonds (no noodles) and Fat-free French Dressing instead of the Sesame Dressing: 370 calories; 13 g fat; 38 g carbs; 29 g protein. You can also ask for the salad without the almonds and save another 130 calories.
Fit Tip: If you opt for a salad, watch the dressing. Even the low-calorie versions are 70 to 90 calories per packet. In some instances, the regular dressings have as many calories as a burger.
Get two Ultimate Chicken Grill Fillets without bread and with ketchup instead of the honey mustard for a total of only 250 calories. Avoid the Southwest Taco Salad; it's 680 calories.
• Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich (plain without mayo): 380 calories; 9 g fat; 45 g carbs; 25 g protein. If you get the Tendergrill without any bread or sauce, it's 160 calories — not bad.
• Whopper Jr. Sandwich without mayo: 260 calories; 11 g fat; 28 g carbs; 14 g protein.
• BK Veggie Burger (without mayonnaise): 320 calories; 7 g fat; 43 g carbs; 22 g protein.
• Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad (without Ken's Fat Free Ranch Dressing): 210 calories; 7 g fat; 8 g carbs; 29 g protein.
Fit Tip: For the salads, Burger King offers Ken's Fat Free Ranch Dressing at 60 calories for 2 tablespoons, the Ken's Light Italian is 120 calories (which is a bit high). The other dressings range from 190 to 270 calories. Even a Whopper with just the patty, pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and ketchup is 270 calories. The apple fries are not bad at 25 calories — too bad they don't have the skin — but kids will probably eat them up.
JACK IN THE BOX
• Southwest Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken Strips: 340 calories; 14 g fat; 29 g carbs; 34 g protein; 1,000 mg sodium (add the Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing for 35 calories more).
• Chicken Fajita Pita made with Whole Grain (with Salsa): 330 calories; 11 g fat; 35 g carbs; 24 g protein; 990 mg sodium.
• Grilled Chicken Strips with Teriyaki: 410 calories; 16 g fat; 48 g carbs; 18 g protein.
Fit Tip: The plain hamburger is 290 calories, which is not bad if you're a burger lover. Look for the fruit cup at 50 calories. And if you go for a salad, stay clear of the croutons at 100 calories, or the Lite Ranch at 150 calories. The Chicken Teriyaki Bowl may look like a good choice — but it's almost 700 calories.