We all need to know some fast food meals under 500 calories. So you're trying to eat healthy and/or lose some extra pounds, but you're on the road and in a hurry, so you find yourself in the drive-through line. Don't worry! There is such a thing as healthy fast food (or at least healthier). You can order a meal at most fast food chains with less than 500 calories, moderate amounts of fat and saturated fat, and ample protein and fiber.
Options for fast food meals under 500 calories include:
1. Burger King
"I typically order the BK Veggie Burger, but I hold the mayo," says Stephanie Quirantes, RD, the nutrition and health manager for Burger King Corp., North America. For a side and beverage, she has the Fresh Apple Fries and either fat-free milk or water. "This gives me four of the main food groups—grains, protein, fruit, and dairy." This is one of the tastiest fast food meals under 500 calories.
Subway's dietitian Lanette Kovachi, RD, has advised the company on nutrition info for years—so we were very curious for her take on how to build a healthy, tasty sammie. Her secret: Mound it with all the fresh veggies—doing so provides 2 full servings. Kovachi orders the 6-inch oven-roasted chicken on 9-grain bread (one of the more fiber-filled options) with water and baked potato chips. "I love the way this tastes, plus it fills me up," she says.
3. Taco Bell
Two fresco soft tacos with steak. If you think chicken is always the healthiest option, this time you’re wrong. The steak version of the fresco soft tacos on Taco Bell's menu have fewer calories, less fat, saturated fat, and more total protein than the chicken variety.
A single Kentucky grilled chicken breast offers more protein and less fat than any combination of two other pieces of grilled chicken from KFC. Pair your chicken with a serving of green beans, and your total meal is still less than 250 calories.
There’s not much to McDonald’s classic hamburger — just a burger patty, bun, and a few condiments, but without all the “extras” (like sugary sauces and saturated fat-laden cheeses), you get by with a pretty low-calorie meal when combining it with a simple side salad. At just 300 calories, it’s almost guaranteed to fit into a calorie-controlled eating plan.
The Grilled Chicken BLT Salad is probably your best bet when you swing by Dairy Queen, especially when you pair it with a pre-packaged bag of baked potato chips. Together, the two items add up to only 400 calories, although that doesn’t include salad dressing. Unfortunately, Dairy Queen doesn’t provide that information online, so plan on choosing one of their “light” dressings to keep any additional damage in check.
Wendy’s has a pretty nice assortment of salads, and the half-size of their Power Mediterranean chicken salad makes the perfect mid-day meal when paired with a small cup of chili. If you’ve never tried it, it’s time — it’s surprisingly good. Together you’re looking at just 420 calories with 20 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fiber.
Eden Grinshpan, host of the new show Eden Eats on the Cooking Channel, is obsessed with yogurt, especially the strawberry blueberry yogurt parfait, at Starbucks. Eden tries to eat yogurt at least once a day because of its probiotics which are good for the belly. The fruit adds fiber and the granola makes a 290 calorie treat. Eden also gets the American coffee rich in oxidants.
To make sure your beverage choice doesn't undo the calorie savings, be sure to go for a zero-calorie drink like water, unsweetened tea, coffee, or diet soda.)
To make sure you keep your fast food consumption in check, make sure you intentionally choose when and how often you're eating fast food meals. So next time you find yourself at the drive-thru, make sure you're thinking about these options. Eating fast food on occasion can definitely be made healthy as long as you put some effort into it.