McDonald's may advertise their McWrap sandwiches as a fresh and healthy alternative to fattier fast food options, but don’t be fooled. In fact, most McWraps are higher in calories, fat and sodium than a Big Mac. With a whopping 620 calories per wrap, the crispy Premium Chicken and Bacon McWrap also packs in 31 g of fat and 1490 mg of sodium, making it far from the “healthiest” item on the menu. For a better option, choose the grilled over the crispy McWrap, keeping your fast food fix in the 400-calorie range and saving you about 13 g of fat.
While you may order a salad at a fast food restaurant thinking you’ve made a healthy choice, if you don’t read the fine print, it could actually be worse for you than a burger and fries. For example, Taco Bell's steak Cantina Bowl is packed with 550 calories, 1390 mg of sodium, and 23 g of fat. When grabbing fast food, look for dishes that are around 500 calories, have 10 g of fat or less, and no more than 700 mg of sodium. A great option at Taco Bell is to request your item "Fresco Style"—it ensures a meal has 350 calories or less under 10 grams of fat.
Flatbread sandwiches seem like a tasty and healthy choice when grabbing lunch on the go. Not exactly. Wendy’s Asiago Ranch Flatbread, a chicken sandwich with smoked bacon, loads of cheese and fatty sauce, contains 530 calories, 30 g of fat and 940 mg of sodium. A better choice? When dining at Wendy’s, try the Smokey Honey Mustard Flatbread (370 calories, 15 g fat, 550 mg sodium) or the Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (370 calories, 7 g fat, 880 mg sodium) and reap the benefits of a healthier fast food find.
Subway is a popular restaurant for a tasty and nutritious meal that won't break the calorie bank. Although Subway provides a variety of nutritious options, you should still be careful when customizing your lunchtime fix. Load up on different fresh veggies (e.g., spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions), limit the fatty sauces, and swap out the soda for water. An added heart health bonus, the FreshFit Menu for adults and kids has the American Heart Association’s seal of approval. Good picks from the FreshFit menu are the 6” Oven Roasted Chicken (320 calories, 5 g fat, 610 mg sodium) and the 6” Veggie Delite (230 calories, 2.5 g fat, 280 mg sodium).
Taking charge of your health does not mean that you need to forego your hamburger cravings. The key is choosing wisely. If you’re craving a burger, go for the Whopper Jr. (minus the mayonnaise), which contains 260 calories, 10 g of fat, and 440 mg of sodium. The Jr. option is a much better choice than the regular Whopper, which delivers 630 calories, 35 g of fat and 980 mg of sodium.
A chicken breast may seem like a healthy option when eating out, but when it’s breaded and deep fried, the health benefits of the meal go pretty much out the door. Thanks to fast food restaurants lightening up some menu items, KFC now offers healthier options. A good option is two Kentucky Grilled Chicken Drumsticks (180 calories, 8 g fat, 580 mg sodium) and a side of green beans (25 calories) for added nutrition.
The quick and easy temptation of cheesy pizza is hard to resist, but as an informed consumer you can order a healthy slice -- or two -- without sacrificing taste. When grabbing pizza on the go, avoid thick crusts, stuffed crusts or high-sodium meat toppings. A good option at Pizza Hut is two slices of the 12” Hand-Tossed Style Veggie Lover’s Pizza. Each slice has 180 calories, 6 g of fat, and 420 mg of sodium.
When lunchtime hits and you’re tight on time, knowing how to navigate the fast food chains can make or break your diet. While you may find it helpful that calories are posted on most major chain menus, recent studies show that consumers are still making choices that simply aren’t healthy. Here are some tips on how to get your fast food fix and remain in charge of your health.