By Karen Ansel, RD
Sometimes eating on the fly is a fact of life. Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that fast food accounts for more than 15 percent of daily calories for people in their twenties and thirties. If your busy schedule calls for the occasional grab-and-go meal, FITNESS is here to help. Our cheat sheet identifies two safe bets for lunch or dinner at 10 of the most popular chains. With these menu picks, which each have 480 calories or fewer and are low in artery-clogging saturated fat, you can eat burgers, tacos, and fries guilt-free.
Related: The Unhealthiest Ballpark Foods to Eat
• Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette plus Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait; 375 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated)
• Grilled Honey Mustard Snack Wrap plus small french fries; 480 calories, 19g fat (5g saturated)
• Fresco Steak Burrito Supreme plus black beans; 430 calories, 10.5g fat (3g saturated)
• Fresco Chicken Soft Taco plus Pintos 'n' Cheese; 330 calories, 10.5g fat (4g saturated)
• Egg White Veggie Wake-Up Wrap plus hash browns; 350 calories, 18g fat (4.5g saturated)
• Tuna Salad Sandwich on an English muffin; 390 calories, 23g fat (3.5g saturated)
• 6" Subway Club on 9-Grain Wheat Bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumbers, and Sweet Onion Sauce plus apple slices; 445 calories, 4.5g fat (1.5g saturated)
• Oven Roasted Chicken Salad with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives, and cucumbers with honey-mustard dressing plus Yogurt Parfait; 400 calories, 6g fat (1.5g saturated)
• Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box (hummus, grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and pita bread) plus a banana; 380 calories, 7g fat (1.2g saturated)
• Zesty Chicken & Black Bean Salad Bowl (grilled chicken, black beans, roasted corn, jicama, tomatoes, feta, greens, and quinoa with chile vinaigrette) plus Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend; 450 calories, 15g fat (2.5g saturated)
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• 3 Barbacoa (braised beef) Tacos on soft corn tortillas with lettuce and tomato salsa; 405 calories, 10g fat (2.5g saturated)
• Vegetarian Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, lettuce, and roasted chili-corn salsa; 385 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated)
• Large Chili plus Garden Side Salad (no croutons) with fat-free French dressing 375 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
• Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich plus apple slices 440 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
• Half Smoked Turkey Breast on Artisan Whole Grain Loaf plus Low-Fat Garden Vegetable with Pesto Soup (from the You Pick Two Menu); 320 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated)
• Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad (no bacon) plus Baked Lays Potato Chips; 430 calories, 17g fat (2.5g saturated)
• Whopper Jr. (no mayo) plus Value-Sized Onion Rings; 410 calories, 18g fat (5.5g saturated)
• Veggie Burger plus apple slices; 440 calories, 16g fat (2.5g saturated)
• 4 Hot Wings plus Sweet Kernel Corn; 380 calories, 16.5g fat (4g saturated)
• Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast plus mashed potatoes (without gravy) 310 calories; 10g fat (2.5g saturated)
Related: The 30 Worst Fast-Food Choices
10 More Calorie Bargains
Whether you're craving a sweet snack or looking for lunch, here are more surprisingly diet-friendly finds.
• Burger King 4-piece Chicken Nuggets; 190 calories, 11g fat (2g saturated)
• Chipotle Cheese Quesadilla (kids' size); 190 calories, 11g fat (6g saturated)
• Dunkin' Donuts Cinnamon Cake Munchkins (two) ; 120 calories, 7g fat (3g saturated)
• KFC Original Recipe Chicken Drumstick; 120 calories, 7g fat (1.5g saturated)
• McDonald's Vanilla Soft-Serve Cone; 170 calories, 4.5g fat (3g saturated)
• Panera Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey; 190 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated)
• Starbucks Chocolate Cake Pop; 140 calories, 7g fat (4g saturated)
• Subway Kids' Roast Beef Sandwich; 200 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated)
• Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco; 160 calories, 10g fat (3.5g saturated)
• Wendy's Jr. Original Chocolate Frosty; 200 calories, 5g fat (3.5g saturated)
Eat right on the run with these smart strategies.
Don't fall for health halos
. Some veggie dishes pack nearly 1,000 calories, while a burger may have as few as 250. Read the nutrition facts before you order.
Go high tech. Speaking of nutrition facts, they're in the palm of your hand with the Fast Food Calorie Counter app ($1, for iPhone or Android), which lists more than 9,000 menu items.
Look beyond the main menu
. Pint-size portions on the kids' menu can save you calories, and the Dunkin' Donuts all-day breakfast menu has many nutritious picks. Panera has a secret menu with healthy egg-white bowls and a steak lettuce wrap; say you're ordering from the "hidden menu" to get the scoop.
Go skinny-dipping. Not all condiments are created equal. A ketchup packet has only 10 calories, but those cute little packages of honey mustard and barbecue sauce contain 60 calories and 50 calories, respectively.
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By Karen Ansel, RD