Fast Food, Your Way
When you’re on the road, grabbing lunch between appointments or taking the family out without breaking the bank, chances are that you’ll be patronizing some of the big chain fast-food eateries. Fast food may be convenient and inexpensive, but most offerings are all too often full of empty carbs: in the bun, crust, breading, and condiments and, of course, the fries. Fortunately, there are other options if you take the trouble to find them. This is not to say that these foods should be your daily fare or that some of them aren’t high in calories, have a few grams of added sugar or contain trans fats.
A few general tips:
- Some fried chicken chains now offer grilled, broiled, roasted or “broasted” chicken that’s neither battered nor breaded. In a pinch, peel off the battered skin of a piece of fried chicken and eat only the meat.
- Watch out for sauces and salad dressings, which may be full of sugar or corn syrup.
- Some chains now let you order a burger wrapped in lettuce leaves, but you can always take matters into your own hands by ditching the bun and asking for a fork.
- Most chains now offer salads with ham or chicken and even salad dressings that aren’t swimming in sugar.
- The bigger chains provide complete nutritional data for their foods on their Web sites. Burger King and Dairy Queen even allow you to add or subtract the bun or/and condiments and immediately see the nutritional impact. For example, once you remove the bun and ketchup, a Whopper goes from 51 to 3 grams of Net Carbs.
Our suggestions on what to order and what to avoid at 12 national chains follow. The best approach is to make up your mind before you go and stick to your guns.
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Roast Chicken, Roast Turkey, Roast Ham, Roast Beef, Roast Beef melts, Reuben Corned Beef, and BLT sandwiches and the contents of all subs; Chopped Turkey Club Salad with Buttermilk Ranch dressing.
Thumbs Down: Popcorn Chicken; Chicken Fillets; most salad dressings and condiments.
A & W www.awrestaurants.com
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Hot Dog, Cheese Dog, Coney Dog, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Grilled Chicken sandwich; Ranch dipping sauce.
Thumbs Down: Chicken Strips, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Corn Dog Nuggets, BBQ and Honey-Mustard dipping sauce.
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Deli Subs, Super Stacked Subs, Hot Philly Cheese Steak and Hot Pastrami subs; also Antipasto, Chef, Grilled Chicken, and Tuna salads; blue cheese, Caesar, and oil and vinegar salad dressings.
Thumbs Down: All panini grilled subs, Hot Meatball Sub; Chile Ole and Roast Beef ’n Bleu salads; Blimpie Sauce and Dijon Honey Mustard.
Burger King www.bk.com
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: All burgers and Whoppers and Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich; Tendergrill Garden Salad (remove the carrots if you're in earlier phases); Ken’s Ranch dressing; Ham Omelet Sandwich with/without bacon/sausage (minus the bun and honey butter sauce); Veggie Burger okay for Phases 3 and 4 (minus the bun).
Thumbs Down: Tendercrisp Chicken, Tendercrisp Garden Salad, Chicken Tenders; Honey Mustard and Ken’s Fat-free Ranch dressings.
Carl’s Jr. www.carlsjr.com
Thumbs Up: Low-Carb Six-Dollar Burger (wrapped in lettuce leaves); minus the bun: Famous Star, Big Carl™, Guacamole Bacon Burger, most other burgers/cheeseburgers, and Charbroiled Chicken Club; Charbroiled Chicken Salad (lose the croutons); House and blue cheese salad dressings; house and buffalo wing sauces.
Thumbs Down: Teriyaki Burger, Parmesan Chicken Sandwich and all other fried chicken and fish dishes; thousand island and low-fat balsamic salad dressings; BBQ, honey, mustard, and sweet and sour sauces.
Thumbs Up: Minus the biscuit: breakfast egg, cheese, sausage, and bacon dishes; sausage breakfast burrito (unwrap and discard the tortilla); Chargrilled Chicken Club and Chicken Salad sandwiches minus the bread; blue cheese, Caesar, and buttermilk ranch salad dressings; Buffalo and buttermilk ranch sauces.
Thumbs Down: All breaded and fried chicken dishes; Chick-fil-A sauce and barbecue, honey mustard, and Polynesian sauces; fat-free honey mustard and other low- or no-fat salad dressings.
Dairy Queen www.dairyqueen.com
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Grillburgers, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cheese dogs, grilled chicken and turkey items; side salad (lose the carrots in earlier phases); BBQ, Wild Buffalo, and Ranch dipping sauces.
Thumbs Down: All crispy chicken items; blue cheese, sweet and sour, honey mustard, dipping sauces, all fat-free salad dressings.
Thumbs Up: Hardee’s Alternative Options menu: Low-carb Thickburger, low-carb Breakfast Bowl, and Charbroiled Chicken Club “Sandwich” salad.
Thumbs Down: All other burgers with buns.
Thumbs Up: Roasted Chicken Caesar or Caesar side salad, both without croutons; roasted chicken BLT salad; Heinz Buttermilk Ranch Dressing; most wing dishes; green beans, KFC Mean Greens.
Thumbs Down: All fried, breaded or crispy dishes and salads; biscuits, most sides.