If you’re reading this guide, congratulations, you’ve accepted that you’re a human being like the rest of us. The truth is, dining out may not be ideal for cost, calories, macros, or health, but it’s part of our culture. Whether it’s social situations, travel for work, time crunches, or a long list of other things, eating fast food or restaurants just happens for most of us. But that doesn’t mean we have to go completely off the tracks and derail our fitness goals because of it. It’s perfectly possible to make macro friendly decisions when dining out.
So, coming to terms with fast food and restaurants being a part of our diets is a step in the right direction. The next step is to pin down go-to options that are lower in calories, higher in protein and volume, and still tasty. It may take a bit of experimentation, but this guide should help you get started.
Low-Calorie Options at Fast Food Restaurants
In the two graphics below, you will find popular restaurants sorted with a handful of menu options under 500 calories. While I haven’t listed the macros for each meal, you can rest assured that each selection is geared towards a higher protein, macro friendly diet. I’ve included more detailed graphics with macros for several restaurants in the second half of this guide.
I’ve included more detailed graphics with macros for several restaurants in the second half of this guide.
Low-Calorie Options at Restaurants
Know that these aren’t your only options at restaurants, just suggestions. Many restaurants include calorie information on the menu now. My best tip for restaurants is to decide before you get to the restaurant. That way you can’t be influenced by others ordering or the desire to order what the next table is having.
A Deeper Dive on Macros and Fast Food Restaurants
Below you’ll find more specific guides for a handful of fast food restaurants. While the guides above have calories, the infographics below dive in deeper on both calories and macronutrients.
Low Calorie, High Protein Options at Starbucks
To be honest, non-breakfast options at Starbucks are lacking in the macros department. Don’t assume a healthy looking option actually delivers healthy amounts of protein while keeping calories under control. You’re paying a premium at Starbucks, don’t overpay for carbs and fats, which are dirt cheap.
Healthiest Options at Arby’s
Arby’s sliders are great ways to get a bit of protein in a pinch. The turkey is the lowest in fat and calories, but the ham and roast beef aren’t far behind. As always, be mindful of sauces as condiments and their impact on total calories.
Macro Friendly Options at Chick Fil A
You’ll pick up on a theme with the following graphics. Choosing grilled over fried, less bread or buns, more meat, and paying attention to condiments and dressings will all be major keys in better fast food menu navigation.
Just in case you’re into cooking, too. Here are some copycat Chick-Fil-A recipes you might like:
- Copycat Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets
- Chick-Fil-A Egg White Grill
- Spicy Popcorn Chicken (like their fried spicy nuggets)
- Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
- Pan Fried Naked Chicken Tenders (like their strips)
Low Calorie Options at Chipotle
I know the tortillas and guacamole are ridiculously good, but they don’t fit in the average person’s calorie and macro budget unless planned for.
Again, just a couple recipes for the cooks out there!
How to Order at Dominos for a Lower Calorie Pizza
All the pizzas below are medium pizzas. You can see that opting for thin crust and light cheese goes a long way. What you may not be thinking about is leaving off a protein. Since nearly all the protein options (even their grilled chicken adds up fast) are higher fat and higher calorie, going strictly veggies reducing calories a ton. Get your protein elsewhere!
In case you wanted to make something off their menu at home, check out my copycat Dominos cinnamon bread twists recipe. I also have a recipe for their garlic bread twists. And if you wanted to make your own homemade pizza, check out my air fryer pepperoni pizza or air fried cheesy garlic bread recipes.
High Protein Options at McDonald’s
Doubling up on meat by ordering two sandwiches and removing the buns from one is a great way to get more protein while keeping carbs and calories under control.
If you’re a fan of McDonald’s breakfast, you’ll dig my healthy McGriddle recipe. And if you’re a fast food burger aficionado, you’ll want to check out my healthy Animal Style In-N-Out Double-Double and Shake Shack Double SmokeShack copycat recipes.
Macro Friendly Options at Sonic
This was a tough one, and the items below are stretching things a bit. In my opinion, avoiding Sonic’s food and sticking to a low calorie Happy Hour drink is probably a good idea unless you’re in an absolute pinch.
Macro Friendly Options at Taco Bell
Taco Bell has a surprisingly healthy menu, or at least low calorie menu. Sure, they have nacho fries with cheese dipping sauce now, but they also have plenty of cheese-free, fatty toppings-free items. As long as you check out the nutrition facts before ordering, you can get really tasty, healthy items at Taco Bell.
I love all things Tex-Mex and have a ton of recipes similar to Taco Bell you might like:
- Healthier Cheesy Gordita Crunch
- Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza
- Baked Chicken Tacos
- Cheesy Beef Oven Baked Tacos
Macro Friendly Options at Wendy’s
Wendy’s is a top 5 fast food staple for me personally. Unlike some places on this list, Wendy’s has healthy items in different genres. As you’ll see below, options range from chili and burgers to grilled chicken. This allows you to keep things interesting and make better choices no matter what you’re craving.
Every Menu and Item Is Customizable
You can find more of these infographics on Instagram. I plan on updating this guide as I create more restaurant breakdowns. If you have something you’d like to see, let me know in the comments.
And before you go, you should definitely check out my recipes while you’re here. Just like this guide, I aim to keep it simple and for real people. My recipes have shorter ingredient lists, microwaveable options, and readily available ingredients. Adding a few easy-to-make recipes will make your life (and fitness) even easier!
Two great starting points are my macro friendly ground beef recipes and easy ground chicken recipes guides. Ground beef and chicken are super easy to make and with a bit of creativity can be used to make really elevated dishes.
More Healthy Copycat Recipes
- KFC Famous Bowls
- Wingstop Fries
- Five Guys Cajun Fries
- Monkey Bread Pizookie
- Torchy’s Tacos Brushfire Tacos
- Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken
- Firecracker Ground Chicken