8 Fast Food Chains Where Dietitians Actually Eat and What They Order

There are many pros and cons to fast food, which is why many of us tend to have a love-hate relationship with it. For one thing, as the name suggests, eating at a fast food chain can help you save time when you’re on the go. And, let’s be honest, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be delicious. This type of food can also help save your wallet, as the most popular fast food restaurants provide whole meals for less than $10. Of course, fast food is generally considered to be unhealthy, and regular consumption of fast food has been linked to a number of of health complications including increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol and increased risk of diabetes.

Because of these potential health risks, it can be assumed that dietitians and other nutrition experts routinely avoid all fast food. But you would be wrong. There are many fast food chains that dieters still choose to eat at, and these places often offer healthier menu choices for customers to choose when they need a quick, inexpensive meal but don’t want to fill up on too much fat. saturated fat and sodium.

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Read on to learn about eight fast food chains where dieters actually eat, as well as their orders from each restaurant. Then, for healthier eating tips, check out the 6 Healthiest Fast-Food Tacos You Must Try Right Now.

Wendy's meal hamburger fries soda
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A classic choice for anyone who loves fast food (or just appreciates a good drive-thru), Wendy’s is one of the best fast food chains around. AND Lauren Manager, MS, RDNregistered dietitian and author of The first-time mom’s pregnancy cookbook AND Nurture male fertilityshe says she has no problem eating at Wendy’s from time to time, mostly because she has her own «healthier» choices.

«Wendy’s baked potato is perfectly done with nothing on top, but you can make it with sour cream and butter on the side. I usually take it home and toss it with some leftover chicken and broccoli, some black beans and cheese, or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and fresh chives,” says Manaker. «While eating french fries frequently can be linked to some nasty health effects,» she adds, «a baked potato is a fantastic way to consume a spud without added fat, salt or sugar.»

Another option Manaker likes is Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Wrap. «I’m usually not a fan of fast food chicken because I don’t think the quality is that great, and sometimes I get a weird rubbery bite that turns me off,» she says. «But the chicken used in these wraps is surprisingly good quality and the whole wrap is quite tasty. I appreciate that the chicken isn’t fried and the portion isn’t too big.»

RELATED: Wendy’s Breakfast Menu Ranked By Nutrition!

Taco Bell meal
Taco Bell / Facebook

Sure, Taco Bell might be known for items like Crunchwrap Supreme or Doritos Locos Tacos, which are some of the most perfectly greasy late night menu options. But that’s not all this fast food chain has to offer. In fact, some dieters love Taco Bell for its wide range of options and how easy it is to find healthier choices.

Manaker, for example, loves to grab a simple bean and cheese burrito. «It’s a meatless option that contains fiber, calcium and protein and consists of beans, cheese and a hot sauce wrapped in a warm tortilla,» says Manaker. «Nothing fancy, but it helps tame my hunger pangs when they come out of nowhere.»

Chick-fil-A cup to drink
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You won’t find burgers here, but for lovers of a classic fried chicken sandwich on the go, Chick-fil-A is a satisfying choice. AND Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of Sports Nutrition Handbook he says that’s not the only reason to love this fast food chain. Goodson’s favorite picks at Chick-fil-A are the grilled croquettes and crunchy coleslaw with a fruit side dish (which features berries and apples).

«Chick-fil-A is one of the few fast food places with grilled chicken sandwiches and nuggets, and they have salad, fruit, and yogurt parfait options as nutrient-rich sides,» says Goodson. «And if you ask, they’ll even put your sandwich on a whole-wheat bun!»

If you’re going to have some fried chicken, Goodson says, «Chick-fil-A is the place to do it.» Why? Because «they fry the chicken in peanut oil, an unsaturated oil with a high smoke point, so there’s very little saturated or trans fat, making it a ‘better for you’ fried chicken option.»

Jimmy John's
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Speaking of menus with tons of options, Jimmy John’s is a fast-food sandwich shop that offers the customer many customizable choices, many of which are healthier. So perhaps it’s no surprise that dieters visit this restaurant when they need something quick and delicious.

«I love Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom Sandwich, and I keep the mayonnaise and add extra mustard to offset my seasoning needs,» says Manaker. «I take even the smallest portion available and pair it with a side fruit or salad.»

While making smart choices can benefit your health, Manaker also stresses the importance of making sure you enjoy your meal exactly the way you like it. «I admit it,» she says, «I like to add some fries to my sandwich for that satisfying crunch, and even though Jimmy John’s offers lettuce-wrapped sandwich choices, I find enjoying the bread much more satisfying for me.»

Starbucks frozen drinks
Farknot Architect / Shutterstock

While there are plenty of fast food breakfast options like Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and Burger King, Starbucks is one of the healthiest options you can find.

«The Starbucks Spinach Feta Egg White Wrap is a go-to when I don’t have time for breakfast at home,» says Manaker. «It’s made with real greens, quality egg whites, and a hearty whole-grain wrap.»

But even though many restaurant «healthy» options will include just the egg white and not the yolk, Manaker adds that she wishes «this wrap was also made with egg yolk, as this part of the egg contains important nutrients that support brain health, such as lutein and choline. According to the American Heart Association, healthy individuals can include up to one whole egg or its equivalent per day as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern,» says Manaker.

RELATED: 11 Healthier Starbucks Food Options, According to a Dietitian

bowl of chipotle steak
Cipotle / Facebook

You’re probably not surprised to see Chipotle on our list of fast food chains where dieters actually eat, as this Tex-Mex chain is known for high-quality, fresh ingredients. And second Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDNauthor ofFinally full, finally thinChipotle is one of her go-to spots when she needs a quick bite to eat.

As for what he orders, he loves the Veggie Burrito Bowl. «This bowl features black beans, guacamole, salsa, and fajita greens,» says Young. «Black beans are a good source of plant protein and contain fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, and black bean consumption plays a role in good heart health and promotes healthy digestion.»

Goodson is also a fan of Chipotle, especially their new Lifestyle Bowls. «Some are made with just salad as a base, some with salad and rice, and some with rice and beans,» says Goodson. «I’m a fan of the Wholesome Bowl made with super greens, chicken, fajita greens, fresh tomato salsa, and guac. I’m also a pork and beef lover, so I sometimes swap the protein for what’s in the state.» heart for.»

three personalized bowls of sweetgreens with iced tea
Dolceverde/Facebook

When it comes to a nutrient-packed fast food meal, you really can’t go wrong with Sweetgreen. When Young visits, he usually orders their Hummus Crunch Salad or Shroomami Bowl.

When it comes to the Hummus Crunch salad, which is made with hummus, olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers and more, Young says, «The chopped kale and chopped romaine in the salad offer numerous health benefits, and both they are good sources of vitamins A and K. They also contain antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

If you’re opting for the Shroomami, you’ll get roasted sesame tofu, portobello mushrooms, raw beets, wild rice, shredded kale, and more. «Tofu is a good source of plant-based protein, as it contains all the essential amino acids,» says Young. «Tofu is rich in minerals such as iron, manganese and calcium and plays a role in heart health, as it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.»

RELATED: 8 Fast Food Chains That Use the Highest Quality Ingredients

Salad and go
Salad and Go via Facebook

A lesser known but still delicious fast food chain restaurant, Salad and Go is growing in popularity in states like Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Nevada. And because this place specializes in quick salads, Goodson says it’s one of the healthiest fast food places you can find.

«This is a registered dietitian’s dream, but the best part is that they’re producing fresh, nutrient-dense foods that are affordable and affordable,» says Goodson. «Salad and Go has all kinds of salads and wraps, and they make their dressing from scratch. My favorite is the Cobb Salad, which has chicken, greens, avocado, bacon, cheese, and homemade dressing, and is cheaper of $7.»

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