Fast food should never be your go-to for every meal. But life gets busy and, sometimes, when you’re on the road, you have to choose convenience over a home-cooked meal. Thankfully, there are relatively healthy fast food options.
Over the past decade, there’s been a shift in the industry to provide healthy fast food options. Rather than strictly opting for among fried fare, chains are lightening up classic offerings and concocting entirely new items with fewer calories, fat and carbs.
A general rule of thumb for eating healthy on the road is to watch your portion sizes. Avoid high-fat items, and make sure what you’re eating actually has some nutritional value, like a high-protein content.
We’ve outlined the healthiest fast food options to help guide you the next time you pull up to the drive-through.
Jordan Mazur, MS, RD, is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
Healthy Fast Food Options
1. Arby’s Double Roast Beef Sandwich
Arby’s Double Roast Beef Sandwich is a delicious and hearty offering from the popular fast food chain. This mouth watering sandwich features not one but two layers of tender, thinly sliced roast beef, piled high on a soft sesame seed bun. With its savory flavors and satisfying portion sizes, this is a great choice for meat lovers.
nutrition: 510 calories, 38g protein, 38g carbs, 23g fat
2. Burger King Whopper Jr. Sandwiches (No Mayo)
The Whopper Jr Sandwich without mayo is delicious and satisfying without the added calories from mayonnaise. Trust us, you don’t need it. It’s BK’s signature sandwich: A juicy, flame-grilled beef patty is topped with fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, crunchy pickles, sliced onions, and tangy ketchup, all nestled between a soft sesame seed bun. This classic burger delivers the same great taste and quality as the original Whopper Jr.
nutrition: 250 calories, 13g protein, 27g carbs, 10g fat
3. Chick-Fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Made with a marinated, boneless chicken breast that’s grilled to perfection, Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich packs tons of charred flavor without the added calories from frying. The sandwich is served on a toasted multigrain bun, offering whole grains and fiber, while toppings like lettuce and tomato add freshness and essential vitamins. Its balanced combination of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables makes it a healthier alternative to the brand’s traditional fried chicken sandwiches.
nutrition: 310 calories, 29g protein, 36g carbs, 6g fat
4. Chipotle Burrito Bowls
Select any meat (you can also add cheese)
Choose one carbohydrate (eg rice, beans, or half scoop of both)
Add fajita vegetables (they’re pan-seared and have nominal calories)
Choose one fat source (guacamole or sour cream)
The Chipotle Burrito Bowl is a nutritious, protein-packed choice that offers a healthier alternative to a traditional burrito. Choose your base of cilantro-lime rice or salad, topped with flavorful ingredients. We like to do grilled chicken, steak, or tofu, then add black beans, fajita vegetables, salsa, and guacamole. This combination provides a well-balanced meal that’s rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients.
Nutrition: Macros vary by combo
5. Five Guys Bunless Little Cheeseburger
Five Guy’s Bunless Little Cheeseburger offers a healthier alternative for individuals looking to reduce their carb intake but still enjoy a good burger. Without the bun, this eliminates unnecessary refined grains, making it a lower-carb option. Packed with juicy beef, fresh toppings, and served in a lettuce wrap, it provides a protein-rich meal while allowing for customization with healthier toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and pickles.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 20g protein, 0g carbs, 23g fat
6. In-N-Out Burger Double-Double Protein Style
The In-N-Out Original Double-Double Protein Style offers a healthier option for burger enthusiasts. Instead of a traditional bun, two juicy beef patties are wrapped in fresh, crisp lettuce. By eliminating the bun, you reduce the carb content, making this a low-calorie, low-carb alternative that still delivers the satisfying flavors of a classic burger.
nutrition: 520 calories, 33g protein, 11g carbs, 39g fat
7. Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom
Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom is a healthy option for sandwich lovers. It features freshly sliced turkey breast, topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, all served on Jimmy John’s signature French bread. With lean protein, crisp vegetables, and minimal added fats, it’s a satisfying choice for health-conscious individuals.
Nutrition: 510 calories, 25g protein, 56g carbs, 21g fat
Related: The Healthiest Frozen Meals You Can Buy at the Grocery Store
8. KFC Original Recipe Chicken Breast
KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken Breast, when enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, can provide a good source of protein. The chicken breast is prepared with a blend of herbs and spices that satisfies cravings. To enhance its healthfulness, consider pairing it with a side of steamed vegetables or a fresh salad to create a well-rounded meal.
Nutrition: 390 calories, 39g protein, 11g carbs, 21g fat
9. McDonald’s McDouble (No Cheese)
A McDonald’s McDouble without cheese offers a relatively healthier option for those seeking a quick meal. With a focus on the juicy beef patty, fresh lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and ketchup, it curbs a craving without the added calories and saturated fat from cheese. Pair it with a side salad or apple slices for a more balanced meal.
Nutrition: 350 calories, 20g protein, 31g carbs, 16g fat
10. Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak
Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak is grilled to perfection. Paired with a side of steamed vegetables or a mixed greens salad, this protein-rich option provides a balanced combination of nutrients and flavors.
Nutrition: 180 calories, 19g protein, 10g carbs, 7g fat
11. Starbucks Spinach, Feta, & Egg White Breakfast Wrap
The Starbucks Spinach, Feta, & Egg White Breakfast Wrap has protein-rich egg whites and flavorful feta cheese. It’s a low-calorie, low-fat alternative to traditional breakfast sandwiches. The addition of spinach provides a dose of vitamins and minerals, making it a wholesome way to start your day.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 19g protein, 33g carbs, 10g fat
12. Subway 6” Oven Roasted Chicken
Subway’s 6″ Oven Roasted Chicken sub is made with juicy chicken breast, offering a lean source of protein. The sub is served on freshly baked nine-grain wheat bread, which provides fiber and essential nutrients.
Nutrition: 320 calories, 23g protein, 45g carbs, 5g fat
13. Taco Bell Fresca Soft Chicken Tacos
Taco Bell’s Fresca Soft Chicken Taco is packed with lean, muscle-building protein. Topped with crisp lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a tangy pico de gallo salsa, it provides a satisfying crunch and a burst of flavor while keeping the calorie count in check.
Nutrition: 130 calories, 11g protein, 16g carbs, 3.5g fat
14. The Habit Burger Lettuce Wrap Charburger
Instead of a traditional bun, this burger is wrapped in crisp lettuce, making it low in carbs and gluten-free. Packed with a juicy charbroiled beef patty, it provides a good amount of protein, essential for muscle growth and repair.
Nutrition: 257 calories, 18g protein, 10g carbs, 19g fat
15. Wendy’s Summer Strawberry Salad
Wendy’s Summer Strawberry Salad is packed with vibrant mixed greens, juicy sliced strawberries, and crunchy roasted almonds, offering a medley of flavors and textures. Topped with grilled chicken and drizzled with a light balsamic vinaigrette, this salad provides a balanced meal that’s both satisfying and wholesome for those looking for healthy fast food options.
Nutrition: 430 calories, 34g protein, 27g carbs, 23g fat