When it comes to fast food, not all restaurants are created equal – especially if you’re health conscious. Sure, it’s fine to have a blow out now and then, but what do you do if you’re looking for a fast and convenient meal that won’t sit on your waistline?
We’ve put together a list of the most healthy and least healthy fast food restaurants, so that you can make an informed decision when hunger strikes! Can you guess the top and bottom 5 healthy restaurants?
Au Bon Pain
This restaurant is an absolute pioneer in the healthy fast food market. Au Bon Pain serves sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot main courses made with whole grains, vegetables, and hormone and antibiotic free chicken.
It has a fantastic selection of appetizers with most under 200 calories a plate. Their low calorie soups and breakfast bagels are a particular favorite of ours and the Mayan Chicken Harvest Hot Bowl is to die for.
Au Bon Pain has more than 300 outlets nationwide.
It may sound like your local corner store, but Jason’s Deli is a fantastic healthy fast food chain with more than 220 outlets all over the Midwest, West, Mid-Atlantic and South. Why are they so good? They have a ton of organic food options, and an extensive range of gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options.
They also do reduced portions for cheaper than the fully stacked option – a great way to cut down without going ultra healthy.
No, really. With over 800 restaurants nationwide, you’d think they’d be as unhealthy as Fat Joe’s Burger Bar (not a real restaurant, by the way!) but they’re the opposite.
First of all, Chipotle is a buffet restaurant, which gives you complete control over your portion size – unlike Mexican food contemporaries like Taco Bell. Secondly, you get to make your meal with locally sourced organic produce and hormone/antibiotic-free meats.
Take it easy with the cheese and sour dip and Chipotle can be as healthy as you want to make it.
Einstein Bros. Bagels
With 650+ restaurants nationwide, Einstein Bros. Bagels give you a really healthy option in the fairly saturated bagel chain market.
They offer reduced-fat options, hummus, and peanut butter. They also have a special type of bagel that has over 4 grams of fiber.
Add in a healthy range of salads that you can half in portion size and you have a healthy bagel option that won’t leave you counting too many carbs or calories.
Taco Del Mar
Like Chipotle, Taco Del Mar offer a range of Mexican food. But, unlike their larger competitor, they offer a range of healthy, baja style Mexican cuisine. Instead of beef and pork fillings, they offer a range of vegetarian, vegan, and fresh fish offerings that will fill you up without blowing your calorie count for the day.
With 270 locations nationwide, you can easily check out their 320 calorie chicken burrito and 555 calorie mondito burrito – which are hugely popular and healthy. They’ve also banned lard from their refried beans and they bake all their fish and taco shells as opposed to frying them.
We love you Sonic, we do, but when it comes to fast food there aren’t many restaurants that are unhealthier than this burger chain.
Why? Well, over half of their menu has at least one gram of saturated fat and most of their standard hamburgers have at least 1,100 calories. And that’s before you go supersize.
You don’t go into a joint named Whataburger looking for low calorie options. Just as well too, because 90% of the Whataburger sides menu contains more than double the daily recommended intake of fats, sugars, and calories. Just the sides.
Over half of their burger meals rated in the top 30% of all fast food restaurants in America.
We love KFC as much as the next person, but there’s no questioning that the majority of the items on the menu can max your daily calorie intake in one sitting. All of the chicken is deep fried, most of it is breaded, and there are tons of calories in everything from the mayo to the ketchup.
It’s great – but about as unhealthy as it gets.
Hardee’s / Carls Jr
Hardee’s is great for pigging out on a bit of junk food. As a result, you wouldn’t expect many low calorie, organic options here and you’d be right. With sodium counts through the roof and saturated fats in practically every meal – it’s pretty unhealthy. One of their burgers weighs in at 1,330 calories. That’s just the burger. It also comes with large fries that have nearly 800 calories before condiments, and the meal deal has more sodium than the Dead Sea.
Jack In The Box
Ten of the basic burger meals on the standard menu contain almost an entire twenty four hours worth of saturated fat for an adult. Jack In The Box also has more sodium in its main burger meals than 50% of its competitors.
On the ‘healthy menu’, you’ll find the Chicken Teriyaki Bowl – which has more carbohydrates and sugar than practically every other meal of their competitors.
If you’ve been eating regularly at any of the bottom 5, we highly recommend getting a baseline nutrition & wellness test. There’s no telling what you’ve been doing to your body!
The key to everything here is moderation. These ‘unhealthy’ restaurants are excellent for the occasional treat and are well worth a visit. The healthier options we found are great for day to day use and are really worth visiting if you’re looking for quick, healthy, and convenient meals.