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Our Top Picks for Healthy Fast Food

Following a diet plan and resisting the temptation to delve into some delicious fast food can be challenging.

Finding healthy alternatives at these sorts of restaurants can seem like a chore, but when you’re pushed for time and in need of a quick meal, they tend to be the most convenient option. 

healthy fast food menu items

Did you know that many fast food restaurants have now introduced healthier alternatives to their menus which are low in fats, carbohydrates, and calories?

What’s better is that most of them taste delicious so you needn’t feel as though you are missing out on great tasting food.

Whether you are following a strict diet or simply trying to swap certain meals for healthier replacements, there is bound to be something that you enjoy. 

Nowadays, there are many restaurants that pride themselves on providing a varied selection of healthy meals. As such, it can be difficult to know which items are worth trying.

Below, we have listed 11 healthy fast food options. We have also provided information regarding the ingredients that they include as well as the nutritional value of each item.

More information regarding the nutrients and ingredients and possible allergens can be found on each of the restaurant’s websites.

Grilled Chicken Nuggets From Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is a fast food restaurant that primarily specializes in chicken sandwiches but they also serve a range of other chicken products.

If you are looking for a healthier alternative to standard chicken nuggets, why not try those of the grilled variety. Although they contain fewer calories, they are not lacking in taste and there are also sauces available that have a lower fat content.

To complete this meal, pair it with a side salad or vegetables.

Nutritional Value Per 4 Counts Of Nuggets

  • Calories: 130 
  • Fat: 3g
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Protein: 25g

Classic Oatmeal From Starbucks

If you are looking for a convenient and healthy breakfast option why not try the Classic Oatmeal from Starbucks. Oatmeal in general is rich in nutrients and low in calories. It also provides a lot of antioxidants and supports healthy immunity. 

The Classic Oatmeal from Starbucks consists of a blend of steel cut and rolled oats. Optionally, you can top it with an assortment of nuts, some fruit, and some brown sugar.

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There are also customizable add-ins available. If desired, you can add some coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or whole milk. 

Nutritional Value (Based On Standard Oatmeal, Serve Size 42g)

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Carbs: 28g
  • Protein: 5g

‘You Pick Two’ Option From Panera

Panera is a bakery-style cafe that serves a selection of foods from breakfast sandwiches to pastries, soups, wraps, salads, and coffees.

The ‘You pick two’ option at Panera is very popular. It allows customers to combine two different menu items which will each then be served in half portions.

You can choose from half salad, half soup or half sandwich. Side options include chips, a french baguette, or for a healthy alternative, an apple.

By combining two different menu items you can feast on something that you enjoy whilst meeting the daily recommended vegetable intake. 

Nutritional Value

The Nutritional value of the ‘You Pick Two’ option from Panera is more difficult to determine as it is going to depend on what options you choose. They aren’t all going to contain the same amount of calories or carbs and fats. 

Salad Bowl From Chipotle

Chipotle is a casual Mexican restaurant that serves tacos and burritos. Their salad bowls, also known as lifestyle bowls, are a great healthy alternative.

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or following a keto or paleo diet, there is an option available that will cater to your needs. 

The Keto-friendly option consists of crispy super greens, grated cheese, guacamole, tomatillo-red chili salsa and is available with steak or chicken. 

Nutritional Value

  • Calories: 540
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbs: 17g

The vegetarian lifestyle bowl has a super green salad base which is topped with cilantro lime flavored brown rice, fajita vegetables, black beans, guacamole, and fresh tomato salsa. 

Nutritional Value

  • Calories: 630
  • Protein: 16g

The plant based vegan bowl is packed full of nutritional goodness. Similar to the vegetarian bowl it contains cilantro lime flavored brown rice, black beans, and tomato salsa. It also contains lettuce, corn salsa, and plant-based sofritas protein. 

Nutritional Value

  • Calories: 600
  • Protein: 23g

They also have a few other lifestyle bowls available and the nutritional value of each of these can be found on the Chipotle website. 

The Junior Hamburger From Wendy’s

Although Wendy’s is primarily known as a fast food restaurant that serves hamburgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches, they do have a few items on their menu that are healthier than others.

The Wendy’s Junior Hamburger consists of a beef patty which is topped with onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and ketchup or mustard. To accompany your meal, you can opt for a garden or caesar side salad and some apple slices.

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This is the perfect option for those who still want to enjoy the taste of a burger without feeling as though they are eating something that is super unhealthy. 

Nutritional Value (Based On A Single Burger)

  • Calories: 250
  • Fat: 11g
  • Carbs: 25g
  • Protein: 13g

Tuna Salad Sub From Subway

Subway offers a varied selection of healthy meal options that can be customized to accommodate your preferences. If you like to try and avoid deli meats, the Tuna Salad Sub is something that you are likely to enjoy.

The 100% wild caught tuna is paired with creamy mayonnaise. You can then choose from an array of delicious fresh vegetables and salad items to top your sub. 

As you are likely aware if you are a frequent Subway customer, there are a few different types of bread available.

The healthiest options include the 9 grain wheat sub, the multigrain sub, or the artisan flatbread. If you are feeling particularly peckish, you may also opt for a side.

Nutritional Value (Based On The Standard Recipe For A 6” Sub, Serving Size 220g)

  • Calories: 410
  • Fat: 23g
  • Carbs: 37g
  • Protein: 19g

The Protein Box From Starbucks

The Starbucks Protein Box is a convenient fix that will satisfy your lunchtime cravings. There are a few different boxes to choose from, all of which contain a healthy balance of fats, carbs, and proteins.

The protein boxes are available in the following options; Cheese and Fruit, Eggs and Gouda, Cheddar and Uncured Salami, Grilled Chicken and Hummus, Cheese Trio, Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein, Eggs and Cheddar, PB&J, Creminelli Snack Box, and a few different Prosnax boxes. 

As you can see there are lots of boxes to choose from, so you are bound to find something that you like. 

Nutritional Value (Eggs and Gouda Protein Box, Serve Size 170g)

  • Calories: 540
  • Fat: 28g
  • Carbs: 30g
  • Protein: 27g

Nutritional Value (Grilled Chicken and Hummus Protein Box, Serve Size 209g)

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbs: 32g
  • Protein: 22g

Grilled Market Salad From Chick-Fil-A

There are thousands of Chick-Fil-A restaurants dotted around the United States so you aren’t likely to experience any difficulties when trying to track one down in search of a healthy snack.

There are a few different versions of this Market Salad available although they all consist of a bed of greens with a blue cheese topping, fruit, nuts, or vinaigrette.

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You can either get a salad with hot meat or cold meat. If preferred, you can opt for a salad without chicken or a salad with a grilled or spicey fillet. Other options include grilled nuggets or standard nuggets or Chick-Fil-A chick-n-strips. 

Nutritional Value (Based On One Salad, Includes Toppings And Dressing)

  • Calories: 540
  • Fat: 31g
  • Carbs: 41g
  • Protein: 28g

Turkey Chili From Panera

The turkey chili from Panera is a great option for those who are becoming more conscious about the foods that they eat.

This dish is made from turkey meat, kidney beans, chickpeas which are cooked in a pasilla and ancho stock along with tomatillos, carrots, cilantro, carrots, edamame, tomatoes, lime, and cumin.

Not only is this dish rich in protein but it also contains a lot of fiber. This chili also comes in multiple sizes. You can either have it in a cup, a bread bowl, or a standard bowl. 

Nutritional Value (Based On A Bowl)

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 10g
  • Carbs: 31g
  • Protein: 21g

Soft Steak Tacos From Chipotle

As we have mentioned Chipotle offers a few different healthy food options and when possible, they aim to use locally sourced, natural ingredients.

A menu favorite is the soft steak tacos. You can choose between soft flour tortillas and crispy corn tortillas depending on your preference.

A single serving consists of 3 tacos. If you do not eat meat, when visiting one of the many restaurants, you may ask for a black bean filling.

Although these tacos are delicious and an excellent source of calcium and iron, just like many other fast food items they do contain a lot of sodium. 

Nutritional Value (Based On A Serving Of 3 Tacos)

  • Calories: 560
  • Fat: 15.5g
  • Carbs: 68g
  • Protein: 36g

Sous Vide Eggs From Starbucks

Sous Vide is the term used to describe a particular cooking process and technique. Eggs, in general, contain a lot of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The Starbucks sous vide eggs are made using eggs from caged free hens. As they are cooked via the Sous Vide process, they have a lovely velvet texture.

There are three options to choose from, this includes; egg white and roasted red pepper sous vide egg bites, kale, and portobello mushroom sous vide egg bites, and bacon and gruyere sous vide egg bites.

Although they may be made from different ingredients, they share something in common and that is their great taste.

Nutritional Value (Kale And Portobello Mushroom Sous Vide Egg Bites)

  • Calories: 230
  • Fat: 14g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 15g

Nutritional Value (Bacon And Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites) 

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 20g
  • Carbs: 9g
  • Protein: 19g

Nutritional Value (Egg White And Roasted Red Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites)

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 12g

Whilst each of the different flavors provides a healthy snack, the egg white, and roasted red pepper sous vide egg bites contain few calories, fat, protein, and carbs.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.