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Healthy eating at fast food places – are you

Healthy eating at fast food places – are you kidding me?
Mike Singh

Is it possible to eat healthfully at a fast food restaurant? The
big name chains, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and
Taco Bell want you to think so. All of these restaurants offer
some type of “healthy” alternative on the menu to entice those
who are watching their weight or simply wanting better options.
But how healthy are these options? It depends on what you order,
of course.

Aside from some options that can be quite healthy, such as
salads, other options that may seem like wise choices may not be
as great as they seem. Also avoid ordering anything in a large
size, as this quickly adds extra calories and fat. Many foods
also include extra sugars that quickly add calories.


Salads and salad dressings at McDonalds are quite low in
calories and fat. A salad with dressing can go as high as 500 or
more calories, but this is much lower than other choices. Salads
do not necessarily mean that the nutritional value is high,
however. Many salads are made with iceberg lettuce, which is
primarily water. However, if you’re trying to watch your weight,
and find yourself with no other options, a salad can be a good
choice. It won’t likely make you feel full, so snacking ahead of
time may be a good option to avoid other temptations while

Other options that seem like healthy alternatives can be
deceiving. Whether a food is fried or grilled will also have a
huge effect. But simply choosing between beef and chicken, for
example, may not be enough. The Premium Crispy Chicken Club
Sandwich has 680 calories compared to the Big Mac’s 560. The key
is to look for grilled alternatives and avoid the tempting
sides, such as fries or desserts.


If you’re opting for a salad, choose wisely. Just because a menu
item includes the word “salad” does not mean it’s healthy.
Wendy’s Taco Salad, for example, comes with almost 400 calories
if you only look at the basic salad ingredients; add in the
extras that come with it, and the total is nearly 700 calories.
This is about a third of a day’s totals on a 2,000 calorie per
day diet. Even a seemingly healthy broccoli and cheese baked
potato comes with 340 calories.

If you’re hungry, it can be very difficult to avoid the
temptations of the fast food restaurant. This can be dangerous
from the sense of added fat and calories. Should you give into
temptation at Wendy’s and order a “biggie” fries, you’ll be
taking in an extra 590 calories and 28 grams of fat.

What about alternatives such as the low fat strawberry flavored
yogurt? The yogurt itself is 200 calories, and the granola
topping that comes with it is an extra 110 calories. In
comparison, an average cup of low fat yogurt from the grocery
store will have around 100 calories.

Burger King

Burger King provides an array of eating options through its
website for those who are watching carbs, fats, or calories.
Many salads listed have from between 10 and 13 grams of fat, or
90 to 117 calories from fat. Salads fall in the 400 total
calorie range. The dressings will add another 70 to 270
calories, for a total of up to almost 700 calories. Again, this
is almost a third of a day’s total caloric intake. The original
Whopper sandwich with everything on it has about the same amount
of calories. Depending on the salad and dressing chosen, the
salad option can actually have more total fat than the Whopper.
In other words, eating a “healthy” salad instead of a sandwich
may not provide you with the benefits you’re looking for.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell offers “Fresco Style” options that have fewer than ten
grams of fat per serving. This translates into the cheeses and
sauces being removed from the item. This style can reduce total
fat and caloric intake. Many items on the Fresco Style menu are
under 400 calories. The key to ordering through this method is
to know which items are available Fresco Style and which are
not. Most items offer this option, but many do not. Ask prior to

One final word of caution when it comes to fast food: even when
the options are low fat and low calorie, many are still very
high in sodium content and low in fiber content. The total
nutritional value is an issue. Cooking methods, such as
deep-frying or leaving foods under hot lamps for extended
periods can dramatically reduce a food’s nutritional value. So
what’s the bottom line? While the occasional visit to a fast
food restaurant can be enjoyable and will not create too many
negative side affects, the idea that ‘healthy’ alternatives at
fast food chains are in fact ‘healthy’ is questionable.

About the author:

Mike Singh is a fitness instructor, who writes about health & fitness products
trainers reviews
,low carb diet

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