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Healthier Fast Food

Fast food is easy and tasty, but it is often high in calories, fat and sodium. These things can be bad for you in large amounts. Below, find ideas on how to make healthier choices at fast food restaurants.

Tip 1 — Avoid "double," "jumbo," and "super size" items — they usually provide twice as much fat, calories and sodium as smaller-sized items.

AVOID

  CHOOSE

Taco Bell Double Decker Taco Supreme

• 380 calories
• 18 g fat
• 760 mg sodium

vs

Taco Bell Chicken Soft Taco

• 190 calories
• 7 g fat
• 480 mg sodium

McDonald's Super Size French Fries

• 610 calories
• 29 g fat
• 390 mg sodium

vs

McDonald's Small French Fries

• 210 calories
• 10 g fat
• 135 mg sodium

Jack In The Box Jumbo Jack Burger

• 550 calories
• 30 g fat
• 880 mg sodium

vs

Jack In The Box Hamburger

• 250 calories
• 9 g fat
• 610 mg sodium

Tip 2 — Skip the "extras" such as high-fat sauce, spread, dressing, cheese and sour cream. Even a healthy choice becomes unhealthy when topped with high-fat fixings. Many restaurants offer reduced-fat and fat-free alternatives.

AVOID

  CHOOSE

McDonald's McShaker Garden Salad with one packet Ranch Dressing

• 270 calories
• 24 g fat
• 600 mg sodium

vs

McDonald's McShaker Garden Salad with one packet Fat Free Herb Vinaigrette

• 130 calories
• 6 g fat
• 340 mg sodium

Subway 6" Cold Cut Trio Sandwich (with standard vegetables, cheese, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper)

• 415 calories
• 20 g fat
• 1670 mg sodium

vs

Subway 6" Turkey Breast & Ham Sandwich (with standard vegetables and 2 tsp. mustard)

• 275 calories
• 5 g fat
• 1325 mg sodium

Jack In The Box Chili Cheese Curly Fries

• 650 calories
• 41 g fat
• 1760 mg sodium

vs

Jack In The Box Curly Fries

• 410 calories
• 23 g fat
• 1010 mg sodium

Tip 3 — Meat at fast food restaurants tends to be high in fat and sodium. Choose grilled, broiled or baked meat instead of breaded and fried. Better yet, try the vegetarian option.

AVOID

  CHOOSE

Carl's Jr. Spicy Chicken Sandwich

• 440 calories
• 22 g fat
• 1290 mg sodium

vs

Carl's Jr. Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich

• 280 calories
• 3 g fat
• 830 mg sodium

KFC Original Recipe Sandwich (without sauce)

• 360 calories
• 13 g fat
• 890 mg sodium

vs

KFC Tender Roast Chicken Sandwich (without sauce)

• 270 calories
• 5 g fat
• 690 mg sodium

1 slice Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lover's hand-Tossed Pizza

• 372 calories
• 14 g fat
• 1123 mg sodium

vs

1 slice Pizza Hut Veggie Lover's Hand-Tossed Pizza

• 281 calories
• 6 g fat
• 771 mg sodium

Tip 4 — Drinks can be dangerous. Choose diet sodas and beverages made with nonfat milk when possible. Juice and skim milk are more nutritious than soda, but remember that they do provide calories.

AVOID

  CHOOSE

Large Coca-Cola Classic

• 310 calories
• 0 g fat
• 30 mg sodium

vs

Large Diet Coke

• 0 calories
• 0 g fat
• 30 mg sodium

Jack In The Box Chocolate Shake (16 fl oz)

• 660 calories
• 29 g fat
• 270 mg sodium

vs

Jack In The Box 2% Reduced Fat Milk (8 fl oz)

• 140 calories
• 5 g fat
• 140 mg sodium

In-N-Out Root Beer (16 fl oz)

• 222 calories
• 0 g fat
• 48 mg sodium

vs

In-N-Out Iced Tea, unsweetened

• 0 calories
• 0 g fat
• 0 mg sodium

Meal Example

Here's an example at Jack in the Box.

  • Avoid — Jumbo Jack burger, chili cheese curly fries and chocolate shake that has 1860 calories, 100 grams of fat and 2910 milligrams of sodium
  • Choose — Hamburger, curly fries and 2 percent reduced-fat milk that has only 800 calories, 37 grams of fat and 1760 milligrams of sodium

That's a difference of 1060 calories, 63 grams of fat and 1150 milligrams of sodium.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.