Lower-Calorie Summer Fast Food Picks

36 healthier choices from fast-food chains.

From the WebMD Archives

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.

Continued

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.

Chick-fil-A:

  • Chargrilled Chicken & Fruit Salad (not including dressing): 220 calories, 6 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 22 grams protein, 55 milligrams cholesterol, and 640 milligrams sodium.
  • Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad (not including dressing): 180 calories, 6 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 23 grams protein, 55 milligrams cholesterol, and 650 milligrams sodium.
  • Southwest Chargrilled Salad (not including dressing): 240 calories, 9 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 26 grams protein, 60 milligrams cholesterol, and 750 milligrams sodium.

Jack in the Box:

  • Grilled Chicken Salad with 1/2 packet Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing: 265 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 16.5 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 28 grams protein, 71 milligrams cholesterol, and 901 milligrams sodium.
  • Southwest Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken Strips (not including dressing): 354 calories, 14 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 33 grams protein, 83 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,007 milligrams sodium.

McDonald’s:

  • Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken: 370 calories, 12 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 35.5 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 30.5 grams protein, 80 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,130 milligrams sodium.

Sonic:

  • Grilled Chicken Salad with 1/2 packet Light Ranch Dressing: 285 calories, 12 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 29.5 grams protein, 100 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,225 milligrams sodium.

Wendy’s:

  • Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (with pecans and 1/2 packet of Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing): 490 calories, 22 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 38 grams protein, 110 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,350 milligrams sodium.

Continued

Sandwiches and Wraps

Arby’s:

  • Chicken Fillet Sandwich, grilled (without mayonnaise): 290 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 32 g protein, 51 mg cholesterol, 925 mg sodium.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, grilled (without mayonnaise): 371 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 43 g protein, 76 mg cholesterol, 1651 mg sodium.

Burger King:

  • BK Veggie Burger (without mayonnaise): 340 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 46 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 23 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 1,030 mg sodium.
  • Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich (without mayonnaise): 400 calories, 7 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 49 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 36 g protein, 70 mg cholesterol, 1,090 mg sodium.

Chick-fil-A:

  • Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich: 270 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 28 g protein, 50 mg cholesterol, 610 mg sodium
  • Chargrilled Chicken Cool Wrap: 410 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 33 g protein, 65 mg cholesterol, 1,250 mg sodium.
  • Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap: 410 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 45 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 34 g protein, 60 mg cholesterol, 1,320 mg sodium.

Jack in the Box:

  • Chicken Fajita Pita made with Whole Grain (no salsa): 300 calories, 9 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 23 g protein, 60 mg cholesterol, 1,090 mg sodium.

McDonald’s:

  • Honey Mustard Snack Wrap (grilled) OR Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap (grilled): 260 calories, 9 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 27 to 28 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 10 g protein, 45 mg cholesterol, 800 to 830 mg sodium.
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich (without mayo dressing): 470 calories, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 51 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 40 g protein, 90 mg cholesterol, 1,380 mg sodium.
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich (includes ranch sauce): 470 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 53 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 36 g protein, 80 mg cholesterol, 1,500 mg sodium.
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich (without mayo): 370 calories, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 50 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 32 g protein, 65 mg cholesterol, 1,110 mg sodium.

Continued

Sonic:

  • Grilled Chicken Wrap: 380 calories, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 44 g carbohydrate 3 g fiber, 29 g protein, 80 mg cholesterol, 1,440 mg sodium.

Wendy’s:

  • Grilled Chicken Go Wrap: 260 calories, 11 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 17 g protein, 45 mg cholesterol, 760 mg sodium.
  • Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich: 320 calories, 7 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 28 g protein, 70 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium.

Cool Sweets and Treats

Burger King

  • Soft Serve Cone: 180 calories, 7 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 4 grams protein, 25 milligrams cholesterol, and 110 milligrams sodium.

Chick-fil-A

  • Yogurt Parfait with Granola: 290 calories, 6 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 53 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 7 grams protein, 10 milligrams cholesterol, and 85 milligrams sodium.

McDonald’s

  • Vanilla Reduced Fat Cone: 150 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 4 grams protein, 15 milligrams cholesterol, and 60 milligrams sodium.
  • Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait: 160 calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 31 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams protein, 5 milligrams cholesterol, and 85 milligrams sodium.

Sonic

  • Junior Banana Split: 200 calories, 6 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein, 25 milligrams cholesterol, and 80 milligrams sodium.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

WebMD Expert Column

Sources

SOURCES:

Carl's Jr.

Burger King.

Arby's.

McDonald's.

Chick-fil-A.

Wendy's.

Sonic.

Jack In the Box.

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