The Ultimate Guide to Fast Food and Restaurant Macro Friendly Eating
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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.
Note: This guide will focus solely on the low-calorie and macro friendly options at popular fast food and sit-down restaurants. If you’d like to learn more about modifying menu items and making sense of menus, check out this article and the three videos linked in the article.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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, shoot me an email and I’ll make it happen.
And before you go, you should definitely check out my recipes page. 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!