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Lower-Calorie Summer Fast Food Picks

36 healthier choices from fast-food chains.
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WebMD Expert Column

It’s summertime, and the living is supposed to be easy. So the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time in the kitchen, right?

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, either, you may well find yourself at a fast-food restaurant. But all those fast-food calories could end up making things not so easy when it comes time to fit into your summer shorts or swimsuit.

The answer is not necessarily to give up fast food entirely. For just about any menu item, there are more healthy options available.

For example, several chains are now offering iced coffee, which can be fairly low in calories if you avoid sugary syrups and whole milk.

New and interesting salads are also hitting fast food menus, along with sandwich wraps and even more chicken sandwiches and entrees to choose from.

The key to more healthful wraps is ordering them with grilled chicken instead of “crispy” and with a lighter sauce (like honey mustard or chipotle BBQ sauce at McDonald’s).

Keep in mind that most grilled chicken sandwiches come with mayo; order them without it, and, if you like, add some BBQ sauce or mustard at the table.

From iced lattes to salads and sandwich wraps, here are some of your best summer fast food picks, all for fewer than 500 calories each.

Iced Coffee, Lattes, and Tea

Jack in the Box:

  • Caramel Iced Coffee, Original Iced Coffee, and Vanilla Iced Coffee made with French roast coffee, 2% low-fat milk, and flavored syrups: About 110 calories, 2 grams fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, and 4 grams protein per 16-ounce serving.
  • Freshly Brewed Iced Tea (unsweetened). The 20-ounce serving contains just 5 calories. 

McDonald’s:

  • Iced Nonfat Latte with Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup: 50 calories, 0 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, and 5 grams protein per 16-ounce serving.
  • Iced Latte with Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup, made with whole milk: 90 calories, 5 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, and 5 grams of protein per 16-ounce serving.
  • Iced Nonfat Latte: 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, and 6 grams protein.
  • Iced Nonfat Hazelnut latte: 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, and 6 grams protein.

Sonic:

  • Regular iced tea or peach or raspberry iced tea or diet green tea. The 20-ounce servings each contain just 5 calories.

Salads

Arby’s:

  • Chopped Farmhouse Chicken Salad with roasted chicken and 1/2 packet Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing: 315 calories, 19 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 13.5 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 23 grams protein, 60 milligrams cholesterol, and 915 milligrams sodium.

Burger King:

  • Tendergrill Grilled Chicken Garden Salad with 1/2 packet Light Italian Dressing: 290 calories, 12.5 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 11.5 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 33 grams protein, 85 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,140 milligrams sodium.

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