It is possible to get out of a fast food restaurant without totally undoing all of your hard work, you just have to make the right choices.
Cooking your own food offers much more control over your dier than eating out, but if you make smart choices, that trip to the drive thru doesn’t have to ruin your whole diet plan. Compiled from Eat This, Not That author David Zinczenko and a recent article from the editors of Men’s Health magazine, these simple tips can make your fast food choices much healthier.
- Just because it sounds healthy, doesn’t mean it is. When you eat at Subway or Panera Bread, you can’t just assume that everything on the menu is low in calories. In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, diners were asked to estimate the number of calories in their meals, both at Subway and McDonalds. They both underestimated but Subway patrons were further off. When people eat at a healthy restaurant, they tend to order more food.
- Get the fresh fruit. If you’re eating a fast food breakfast at a restaurant like IHOP or Denny’s, the pancakes covered in fruit and whipped cream and sugary syrup look delicious, but all that extra sugar does you no good. Instead, skip the cream and syrup and ask for a side of fresh fruit instead to put on top of your short stack.
- Cappuccino is better than latte. Cappuccinos are made with steamed milk which has more air and fewer calories than the latte. The Grande Cappuccino at Starbucks with 2% milk has 70 calories less than the equivalent size latte. Over the course of a week, that adds up to around 500 calories less.
- Ham over Bacon over Sausage. No, this isn’t the plan for one meat packed sandwich. When it comes to meats at breakfast, ham is the best choice of the three, then bacon, and sausage comes in last. At McDonalds, the McGriddle with sausage, egg and cheese has 560 calories and 32 grams of fat but the bacon, egg and cheese McGriddle has 420 calories and 18 grams of fat.
- Choose sides wisely. Some fast food chains now offer more choices than just fries. You can get a side salad or baked potato rather than french fries which are cooked in oil and covered with salt. Zinkzenko says that at Wendy’s, the small chili saves you 320 calories and offers three times the protein over the large fry. Combined with a Jr. Cheeseburger and you have a meal for under 500 calories.
- Pass on the drinks. There is no soda that’s a good soda. Even if you do opt for the diet variety, you’re still not as healthy tips as simple water. Some chains offer bottled water, or you can always get the water from the fountain machine. It can sometimes be hard to find though and is usually a small button found underneath one of the larger soda logos.
If you order smart, you can still have some of your fast food faves without overdoing it. Stay away from the fries and the drinks and stick to some of the core items to keep calories from piling up.