Eating Healthy On The Go: 10 Fast Food Options Under 500 Calories
If you are a health junkie or just someone looking to make smart, healthier food choices, finding nutritionally friendly meals at fast food restaurants can be difficult at times. From the moment you walk into most fast food chains you are bombarded with posters and advertisements boasting about the biggest, tastiest, triple bacon cheeseburger you’ve ever seen in your life.
While many fast food establishments now have nutritional facts available for their items, these establishments are rarely advertising the nutritional facts of that monstrous bacon cheeseburger. Most meals of that stature, with a side of fries and soda, can contain 1000 or more calories and be loaded with hundreds of grams of unwanted fats and carbohydrates.
So, if you’re trying to make better food choices is it impossible to find something to eat that’s fast, tasty, and will fill you up at 500 calories or less? The answer is no. But, in order to do so you need to order smart and may need to modify your order at times.
Why 500 calories? Well, using a typical healthy meal of six ounces of chicken breast, one cup of white rice, and eight pieces of asparagus as an example, the caloric intake of this meal equals approximately 500 calories. So, we can use this as a benchmark for some healthy, fast food options when you don’t have time or access to make your chicken and rice meal.
With these 10 food options from the most popular fast food chains across America you can make healthier choices when eating on-the-go.
Eating Healthy On the Go
Option #1 – Starbucks
As tempting as it may be to order that venti caramel frappuccino with extra caramel and extra whipped cream, it’s time to ditch the high calorie drinks and focus on what’s in the food case. If you’re looking for a low calorie, low fat snack to get your morning started, the reduced fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich is one of your best options. And, if one is not enough you can actually enjoy two of these and keep your morning meal at less than 500 calories.
Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
- Calories: 230
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 28 grams
- Protein: 13 grams
Option #2 – Chipotle
Scared to order the Chipotle chicken? That’s okay because you’re not alone. With this filling bowl of meat and vegetables you will use barbacoa as the base of your meal. But, in order to keep this fast food item around the 500 calorie mark you need to choose your ingredients wisely.
Using barbacoa as your base meat add black beans, fajita vegetables, corn salsa, tomatillo green salsa, cheese, and lettuce. By ditching the rice and using black beans you are dropping the calories and carbohydrates within this meal.
Coming in at 505 calories this item goes slightly over the 500 calorie threshold, so if you want to lower the calories more you can ditch the cheese or corn salsa. But, let’s be real. Cheese makes everything taste better so add the cheese and enjoy.
Barbacoa Bowl with Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables, Corn Salsa, Tomatillo Green Salsa, Cheese and Lettuce
- Calories: 505 calories
- Fat: 17.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 50 grams
- Protein: 41 grams
Option #3 – Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s
A lettuce wrapped turkey burger from Carl’s Jr may not get the sexy, slow motion dripping commercial that most of their other items do, but nutritionally this item is the sexiest option on the menu. This burger is a great option for someone looking for a low calorie, low carbohydrate fast food item that is still going to fill them up. At only 340 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates, this turkey burger will allow you to still enjoy a burger and not feel too guilty.
Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger
- Calories: 340
- Fat: 23 grams
- Carbohydrates: 8 grams
- Protein: 26 grams
Option #4 – In-N-Out
While not available nationwide, In-N-Out continues to grow across America providing fresh, made-to-order hamburgers. And, if you order smart you can enjoy the delicious taste of an In-N-Out burger while keeping the calories low.
High calorie, high fat sauces can raise the nutritional composition of a piece of food significantly, so ordering a cheeseburger, protein style with mustard and ketchup, instead of the spread, will keep your delicious In-N-Out burger to only 330 calories.
Cheeseburger Protein Style With Mustard/Ketchup Instead of Spread
- Calories: 330
- Fat: 18 grams
- Carbohydrates: 11 grams
- Protein: 18 grams
Option #5 – Del Taco
Quick, tasty, and a macro-friendly treat you can enjoy on your taco Tuesday, the carne asada street tacos from Del Taco are packed with flavor and contain only 180 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 11 grams of protein per taco. With this fast food item you can enjoy two tacos and stay well below the 500 calorie mark.
Carne Asada Street Tacos (One Taco)
- Calories: 180
- Fat: 7 grams
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams
- Protein: 11 grams
Option #6 – Chick-Fil-A
If you’re looking for a tasty chicken sandwich to satisfy your hunger, look no further than the home of the chicken sandwich. Closer to the 500 calorie mark at 440 calorie,s and less than 15 grams of fat, the grilled chicken club sandwich packs 38 grams of protein.
You can enjoy this sandwich as-is for under 500 calories, but can always ditch the bacon and sauces to lower the calorie and fat levels for this sandwich.
Grilled Chicken Club
- Calories: 440
- Fat: 14 grams
- Carbohydrates: 41 grams
- Protein: 38 grams
Option #7 – Wendy’s
If it’s Sunday and you can’t get your chicken fix at Chick-Fil-A then you can walk next door to Wendy’s. At less than 250 calories and only 10 grams of fat, the grilled chicken wrap from Wendy’s is an excellent, low calorie option as it also only has 24 grams of carbohydrates while packing 20 grams of protein.
If you are extremely hungry and can spare the extra fat and carbohydrates, you can enjoy two of these and still stay under the 500 calorie mark.
Grilled Chicken Wrap
- Calories: 240
- Fat: 10 grams
- Carbohydrates: 24 grams
- Protein: 20 grams
Option #8 – Panera Bread
Let’s step away from the chicken for a second and focus on some good old fashioned beef. For you beef lovers out there, the steak and arugula sandwich from Panera Bread comes in at exactly 500 calories for an entire sandwich.
If you’re looking to cut the calories and fat down even more on this option, simply order the half sandwich version for half the nutritional content. This steak sandwich is a little higher on the fats and carbohydrates, but allows you to enjoy some steak and stay at that 500 calorie mark.
Steak and Arugula Sandwich (Whole)
- Calories: 500 calories
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbohydrates: 51 grams
- Protein: 24 grams
Option #9 – Jack in the Box
Another breakfast option for you if you’re looking for something quick on your way to work in the morning, the breakfast Jack from Jack in the Box contains only 280 calories and 11 grams of fat. You can order this breakfast sandwich with bacon, sausage, or ham and stay under the 500 calorie mark.
But, if you’re looking to keep the fat content lower you should order this sandwich in the ham or bacon options.
- Calories: 280
- Fat: 11 grams
- Carbohydrates: 30 grams
- Protein: 16 grams
Option #10 – Panda Express
The key to keeping the calories, fats, and carbohydrates low at Panda Express is saying neither at the beginning of your order. The first thing you are usually asked when ordering is, “Rice or Chow Mein?” To that you will respond, “Neither. Vegetables please.”
And, you’re going to need to ditch the orange chicken. Sorry. Stick with a mushroom chicken bowl with veggies. This bowl will fill you up at only 250 calories and less than 10 grams of fat.
Mushroom Chicken Bowl with Veggies, No Rice
- Calories: 250 calories
- Fat: 9.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 27 grams
- Protein: 16 grams
With these 10 fast food options in your back pocket you can now make smarter choices the next time you’re ordering food from a fast food establishment. While nothing can beat cooking your own fresh food at home, this list of low calorie food options will, at the very least, allow you to make healthier decisions when eating on-the-go.
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