BlueHealth Advantage - Smart Fast Food Choices

Smart Fast Food Choices

Smart Fast Food Choices

A Guide To Making Healthy Fast Food Choices

Believe it or not there are actually more healthy choices at your favorite fast food restaurant than you might think. Do you know what to look for and what to look out for?

We Do Have A Choice

Healthier Choices...Eating On The Run

If you watched the news or read the newspaper only once in the last year, you’ve no doubt probably seen a story on the dangers of fast food. And while many fast food items are high in fat and calories, you don’t often see the healthier fare that fast food has to offer.Believe it or not, we do have a choice.

Regardless of our almost 24/7 busy schedules, we can make healthy eating a part of our lives—even at the drive through. If you know what to look for, you can not only reduce the fat and calories of your typical fast food meal, but also manage to create a pretty nutritious meal in the process. Check out this brochure to find ways you can make healthier fast food choices.

Healthy Fast Food

Fast Food Fast Facts

  • The typical American now consumes three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week.
  • 30% of adults eat out for lunch on the weekdays.
  • Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars—COMBINED.
  • The average business lunch is only 36 minutes long.
  • In 1999, of the 30 fastest growing US franchises, 12 were fast food—and only three were fitness and nutrition.
  • Nearly 10% of all food purchased in restaurants is consumed in the car.
  • There are nearly 2 million different combinations of sandwiches that can be created from a Subway menu.

Source: Fast Food Nation

The Skinny On Fat

Fat is one of three fatty acids that are found in both plants and animals, and are essential nutrients for your body’s healthy functioning. The three different types of fat are outlined below.

  • Saturated Fat — Saturated fat is the “bad fat” that people refer to when they’re talking about the importance of maintaining a low-fat diet. Saturated fats have been linked as the main dietary cause of high cholesterol—a main cause of heart disease.
  • Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats.

Both of these fats are better known as the good fats. Studies have shown that these two fats can help to lower your cholesterol if used in place of saturated fats.

Why Fat Matters

Fat matters because diets high in fat contribute greatly to excess weight gain and elevated blood cholesterol levels—both of which are leading cause of heart disease, America’s number one killer.

High fat foods generally contain many more calories. In fact, they contain about twice as many calories per gram as do carbohydrates and proteins. Basically, every gram of fat contains nine calories, whereas one gram of protein or carbohydrates contains only 4 calories.

Additionally, many foods that are high in fat lack many essential vitamins and minerals that other low-fat foods contain. Watch out for foods like bacon or potato chips, they contain essentially zero nutrients your body can use.

Needed Fats

As was mentioned earlier, your body does need some fat to survive. Fat plays an important role in helping your body absorb a number of other important vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Remember, even though your body needs a little fat for healthy functioning, it needs much less than the average American consumes. The fact of the matter is that a diet that’s low in fat is important for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total calories from fat to less than 30%. This means if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet, you should stick to about 65 grams of fat per day, and no more.

Fast Food Face Off

Given the fast paced nature of life in America today, we sometimes can’t avoid a meal on the go. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for all the fat and calories most fast food meals provide. Believe it or not, you have more options than you might think. Outlined below are several menu choices that you should look for and look out for next time you’re forced to eat and run.


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
Baked Potato, Plain2402
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad2308
Light Roast Chicken Deluxe2605
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Market Fresh Sandwich88044
Roast Beef & Swiss Market Fresh Sandwich81042
Chicken Cordon Bleu63035


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
Mandarin Chicken Salad1501.5
Small Chili2107
Jr. Hamburger2709
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Big Bacon Classic57029
Chicken Club Sandwich47019
Broccoli & Cheese Hot Stuffed Baked Potato48014


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
Cinnamon Twist (Yeast)2309
Powdered Sugar (Cake)21010
Glazed Mini Cruller23010
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Glazed Raspberry-Filled Doughnut35021
Honey Bun41024
Coconut Cream Pie45021


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
6 inch Turkey On Wheat3307
6 Inch Roast Beef On Wheat3908
Grilled Chicken Hot Sub4009
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Ultimate Club72442
Beef, Turkey & Cheddar60031


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
Spaghetti with Marinara (1 Serving)4906
Vegetable “Hand Tossed” (1 Slice)2208
Chicken Supreme “Hand Tossed” (1 Slice)2307
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Italian Sausage “Big New Yorker” (1 Slice)53029
Pork “Stuffed Crust Gold” (1 Slice)50025
Meat Lover’s “Chicago Dish” (1 Slice)47027


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
6 Inch Veggie Delight2002.5
6 Inch Turkey Breast2543.5
6 Inch Subway Club2945
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
6 Inch Tuna45022
Dijon Horseradish Melt47021
6 Inch Meatball54026


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
BK Broiler Chicken Sandwich2678
Chunky Chicken Salad1424
BK Veggie Burger2907
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Original Double Whopper With Cheese107070
Chicken Whopper Sandwich58026
BK Fish Filet Sandwich52030


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
English Muffin1402
Original Hamburger28010
Chicken McGrill w/o Mayo3407
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese76048
Grilled Chicken Flatbread52022
10-Piece Chicken McNuggets51033


Best of...CaloriesFat Grams
Crunchy Beef Taco17010
Bean Burrito38012
Grilled Chicken Burrito41015
Worst of...CaloriesFat Grams
Taco Salad w/Salsa79042
Zesty Chicken Border Bowl73042
Mexican Pizza55031

Healthy Food Strategies

Other than selecting some of the healthier fast food options above, there are some other things you can do to make your meal on the go healthier for you. Next time you’re stuck in the drive through, give the following strategies a try to lighten the load of your fast food meal.

Go plain — When ordering your meal, try to avoid the fatty extras. Things like mayonnaise or other sauces, cheese, or fried toppings like onions are high in fat, and add unneeded calories to a meal that’s already too high in both fat and calories.

Don’t super size — Super sizing almost always nearly doubles the fat and calories in your fast food meal. Though it might seem like you’re getting a screaming deal, your body always gets the short end of the stick. You will be surprised by just how filling your meal is without super sizing.

Slow and steady — The average business lunch is only about 36 minutes long these days. And many times, half of our lunch breaks are consumed by heading out and picking up our meal. Because this leaves us little time to eat, we tend to shovel our lunches down so we can get back to work. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to eat your meal and relax. It’ll save you indigestion and fatigue later in the day.

Skip the refill — Try and stick to only one soda during your lunch break. Just because your favorite restaurant has free refills, it doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of them. In fact, because soda is loaded with sugar and caffeine, there really isn’t anything to take advantage of in the first place. Even better, skip the soda altogether. Try water or ice tea if you need the flavor.

For More Information

US Department of Agriculture

Center For Science In the Public Interest

American Dietetic Association

Wellness Councils of America
9802 Nicholas Street, Suite 315
Omaha, NE 68114-2106
Phone: (402) 827-3590
Fax: (402) 827-3594

©2006 Wellness Councils of America

The information contained in this brochure has been carefully reviewed for accuracy. It is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider.