Two of my good friends complained to me that they don’t have enough time to cook food, so they end up eating out. Due to the fast paced society we live in, eating out has become the lifestyle of many people. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS), Americans now spend 48.9 percent of their food dollars away from home. This is the highest percentage currently on record. Thirty years ago, only about 37 percent of those food dollars were spent away from home. Fifty years ago, that figure was just 25 percent.
However, as some would say, it is what it is. Therefore, I spent this week going to fast food chains attempting to find what is acceptable to eat in order to continue living a slightly healthier lifestyle. I learned that you could keep yourself around 300 calories if you just get the one item. I imagine you’ll want to get fries and drink with that, but I wouldn’t suggest it.
Whether you order small or medium fries, you are going to add another 220 to 450 calories to your meal. That cup of soda on average will give you 200 more. Now what was once a 300-calorie meal has spiraled out of control into 800 or even 1000 calories of regret. Therefore, if you stick with what I prescribe below, you should be okay, but nothing beats home cooking.
We’ve all seen Super Size Me. And while McDonalds has done a lot to change their image, I usually wouldn’t make this my first choice for fast food. Here are your options below.
Breakfast Sausage Burrito
Serving Size: 1 burrito, Calories: 300, Fat: 16g, Carbs: 26g, Protein: 12g
Egg Cheese McMuffin
Serving Size: 1 sandwich, Calories: 300, Fat: 12g, Carbs: 30g, Protein: 18g
Serving Size: 1 cheeseburger, Calories: 300, Fat: 12g, Carbs: 33g, Protein: 15g
California Cobb Salad w/ Grilled Chicken (Half a pack of balsamic vinaigrette)
Serving Size: 1 serving, Calories: 280, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 12g, Protein: 35g
Home of the Whopper, which consequently is a whopping 670 calories. Think about that next time you want to bite into that flame broiled delight. Here are your options, but they’re not much.
Jr. Whopper No Cheese No Mayo
Serving Size: 1 burger, Calories: 310, Fat: 23g, Carbs: 26g, Protein: 16g
Chicken Tenders 4 Pc
Serving Size: 4 (62g), Calories: 190, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 10g, Protein: 10g
This is one company that has made great strides in giving its customers healthy options. I especially like that you can get a bottle of water instead of soda if you order the meal. Brilliant!
Serving Size: 1 small, Calories: 220, Fat: 7g, Carbs: 22g, Protein: 18g
Serving Size: 5 nuggets (75g), Calories: 230, Fat: 14g, Carbs: 13g, Protein: 12g
Spicy Chicken Nuggets
Serving Size: 5 nuggets, Calories: 230, Fat: 14g, Carbs: 13g, Protein: 12g
Baja Salad – Half Size No Tortilla Chips or Dressing
Serving Size: 1 container, Calories: 280, Fat: 17g, Carbs: 19g, Protein: 17g
Caesar Side Salad
Serving Size: 1 Salad w croutons and dressing, Calories: 250, Fat: 17g, Carbs: 19g, Protein: 7g
Jr Hamburger Deluxe
Serving Size: 1 burger, Calories: 260, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 28g, Protein: 13g
Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (No Sauce)
Serving Size: 1 sandwich, Calories: 300, Fat: 4g, Carbs: 39g, Protein: 29g
Sometimes tacos are often a great food option if you know what you’re looking for, however, it’s rare that we only order one taco. That’s why portion control here might have you saying, “Yo Quiero something else”.
Soft Taco - Beef
Serving Size: 1 taco, Calories: 200, Fat: 9g, Carbs: 19g, Protein: 10g
Soft Taco – Chicken
Serving Size: 1 taco, Calories: 180, Fat: 6g, Carbs: 18g, Protein: 14g
Hard Taco - Beef
Serving Size: 1 Taco (2.75oz), Calories: 170, Fat: 10g, Carbs: 12g, Protein: 8g
Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco
Serving Size: 1 Taco, Calories: 150, Fat: 4g, Carbs: 19g, Protein: 9g
Fresco Chicken Soft Taco
Serving Size: 1 taco, 110g, Calories: 150, Fat: 3.5g, Carbs: 18g, Protein: 12g
Gordita Supreme - Beef
Serving Size: 1 Gordita, Calories: 300, Fat: 13g, Carbs: 31g, Protein: 13g
Gordita Supreme - Steak or Chicken
Serving Size: 153 g - 1 gordita, Calories: 270, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 29g, Protein: 17g
We all remember how Jared Fogle lost a lot of weight by eating subway sandwiches only. Who can argue with the facts? At Subway, there are too many options to choose from, which goes to show you that you can eat out and still eat healthy. For the sake of time here is a way to choose from the subway menu and keep everything under 300 calories.
Choose a 6-inch sub or a deli round topped with lots of veggies and ham, roast beef, or turkey breast. Use mustard or vinegar as a topping and for an additional 45 calories, add 1 tablespoon of light mayo.
Any of the salads with 6 grams of fat or less topped with a fat-free Italian dressing and lunch comes in under 250 calories.
Most soups (not chili, which is 310 calories) that do not contain bacon or cheese would only add approximately 90 calories to the meal.
I think that for the majority of us eating out isn’t something we need to do everyday. With a little planning, we can make sure to have healthy meals ready to go throughout the week. But if you are in a tight spot, remember that there is always something you can eat that won’t ruin your physical goals and won’t have you feeling guilty about your nutritional decisions.