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Nutrition in fast food restaurants

When you’re looking for a nutritious takeout, fast food restaurants can be a minefield of less healthy, high-calorie options. Keeping in mind what to choose can help you avoid tempting “meal deals” that will add 200 calories or more.

If you are on a diet or just looking for the best nutrition, look for a meal that is  500 calories or less  , including drink. It is helpful that many chains now display total  calories  with the items on their displays.

Many chains also have a nutrition calculator app that can help you customize your meal and even order ahead. This can help you make sure you stay within the limits of your diet, whether it’s  low carb  ,  calorie-controlled,  or another popular format. These will also help you identify which elements provide the most vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed for a  healthy, balanced diet  .

General nutrition rules for fast food

  • Meals of 500 calories or less
  • Grilled instead of fried
  • Choose salads and avoid high-fat toppings
  • 6-inch sandwiches instead of foot-long sandwiches
  • Single burger patties without bacon or mayo
  • Calorie-free drinks (water, diet sodas, coffee, unsweetened tea)
  • Order ahead in the restaurant app so you’re not tempted by worse options.

The best metro options

Subway  offers its “Fresh Fit” sandwiches and it’s easy to find options for less than 500 calories that are low in fat and packed with healthy vegetables.

Their Fresh Fit sandwiches have a standard recipe to be served on 9 grain wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers. Even if you choose one of your less lean meat sandwiches, having them hold the mayonnaise and oil can cut calories and fat. You can also choose to have any of the sandwiches as a salad.

  • Nutritional information
  • Best Options for Subs: Lowest  calorie sub is 6-inch Veggie Delite, 230 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein. Other good options for less than 350 calories and less than 6 grams of fat include 6-inch ham, turkey, Subway Club, oven-roasted chicken, and rotisserie chicken.
  • Best Low Carb Diet Choices:  Salads are your best option for  low carb eating  . Choose the same meats as the healthier subs (ham, turkey, oven roasted chicken) and tuna. Low-carb dressings are either the oil and vinegar dressing or the fat-free Italian dressing.
  • Avoid:  Avoid adding cheese, mayonnaise, and other high-fat dressings and condiments to your sandwich or salad. Don’t add a bag of potato chips or a cookie.

Wendy’s Best Choices

Wendy’s has some good options  for a quick stop, including a quick, easy-to-eat, high-protein, low-fat wrap. Chili is a great choice and they have a very healthy grilled chicken sandwich.

    • Nutritional information
    • Caesar Salad  : With Caesar dressing and croutons, this salad has 240 calories. 8 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat. If you remove the dressing and croutons, that comes down to 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein. It provides 45 percent of your daily vitamin A and 30 percent of vitamin C. Use one of their fat-free or reduced-fat dressings if you want less fat.
    • Grilled Chicken Go Wrap  : 270 calories, 10 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of protein. Note that the spicy version is significantly higher in calories and has twice the fat, so it is not a good option.
    • Grilled Chicken Sandwich  : 370 calories, 34 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat. They keep the fat low with a smoked honey mustard dressing and a healthy spring vegetable mix.
    • Chile  : You make a good choice here whether you choose the small or large chili. The little one has just 170 calories, while the big one is still low at 250 calories, 7 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of fiber. This is acceptable for Phase 2 of the  South Beach diet  .
  • Sour cream and chives  : 320 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein, 60 percent vitamin C, 20 percent iron.
  • Avoid:  The breaded and fried chicken sandwich options are high in fat and calories, so don’t choose them over grilled chicken.

The best McDonald’s options

You can find some nutritious options at  McDonald’s  , especially if you choose the salad over the fries.

  • McDonalds USA Nutrition Calculator  : McDonald’s helps you make good decisions by selecting current items and customizing ingredients to see results.
  • Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad  : If you leave out the cheese and tortilla strips, it drops to 260 calories and 5 grams of fat. The standard preparation with cheese and tortilla strips is 350 calories, 11 grams of fat, 37 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber. Provides 180 percent of the daily value for vitamin A and 50 percent for vitamin C.
  • Side Salad  : Never be afraid to add this in place of fries as it is only 15 calories but provides all of your daily vitamin A and 20 percent of your daily vitamin C. You will need to verify the nutritional information for any seasonings that you add.
  • Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich:  This sandwich has 380 calories, 6 grams of fat, 36 grams of protein, and 45 grams of carbohydrates. Pair it with the salad for a nutritious meal.
  • Burger or Cheeseburger  : The plain burger and plain cheeseburger are surprisingly low in calories (250 and 300), and when paired with a salad instead of fries, they’re good options. The hamburger has 8 grams of fat while the cheeseburger has 12 grams.
  • Avoid:  Keep French fries, breaded chicken sandwiches, and breaded chicken salads.

Burger King’s best options

Burger King  has some good options, but you need to select them carefully.

  • Burger King Nutrition Calculator  : Burger King helps you find current best items based on criteria including less than 200 calories, less than 500 calories, less than 10 grams of fat, less than 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 800 milligrams of sodium and less than 20 grams of sugar.
  • Garden Chicken Salad  : As indicated, it is high in fat (33 grams) and 520 calories. Skipping the dressing or using a fat-free dressing will make it healthier and lower in calories.
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich  : Skip the mayo and this sandwich has 360 calories, 7 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 55 grams of protein. With mayonnaise (the standard preparation), it has 470 calories with 19 grams of fat.
  • Whopper Jr.:  Order without mayonnaise or cheese for 260 calories, 10 grams fat, 29 grams carbs, 13 grams protein. The standard preparation (with mayonnaise and cheese) is 310 calories, 18 grams of fat.
  • MorningStar Veggie Burger  : Order without mayo for 310 calories, 8 grams of fat, 21 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber.
  • Side Garden Salad:  The standard salad includes cheese and has 60 calories, 4 grams of fat. 3 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of protein. You can order it without cheese to lower it to 15 calories. Please note that this does not include any dressing.
  • Avoid  : French fries, onion rings, cheeseburgers

Best Taco Bell options

Taco Bell  offers an al fresco menu of reduced fat and calorie items that skip the cheese and use fresh salsa. You can easily find items that way for 350 calories or less. You may be able to clarify other items by requesting “Fresh Style” as well. Those on low-carb diets may do well to order chicken items without sour cream and not eat the tortilla or shell.

Portion control is important at Taco Bell. While many menu items are low enough in calories, the temptation is to eat more than one.

  • Taco Bell Nutrition Calculator  – Use your calculator to view the nutrition for each item, including results when adding or subtracting ingredients.
  • Taco:  The basic beef taco has 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein, and 18 grams of carbohydrates. The crispy beef taco has 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 13 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Fresh Tacos (Beef  ): The soft taco has 160 calories, 6 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrates. The crispy taco has 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Fresco Burrito Supreme (Chicken)  : 340 calories, 8 grams of fat, 18 grams of protein, 48 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Fresh Bean Burrito  : 350 calories, 9 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 56 grams of carbohydrates.
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Jett Kolio

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