Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Eating Out on a Diet


Restaurant Advice: Fast Food
If fast food burgers are calling your name, go for the junior sizes and hold the fries.
If fast food burgers are calling your name, go for the junior sizes and hold the fries.
Chris Stein/Getty Images

Fast food is often high in calories, fat, and sodium and lacking in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you're not careful, you can end up consuming an entire day's worth of calories -- or more -- in one fast-food meal. Since eating on the run is sometimes necessary in our fast-paced days, there are ways you can keep fast-food calories from landing on your hips.

The next time you visit your favorite fast-food haunts, ask for a nutritional analysis brochure -- all the fast-food places have them. Check the brochure to determine which choices are lowest in calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar. Jot down a list of items you like that are modest in calories. Order from this list each time you frequent the restaurant.

Alternatively, you can plan ahead and visit the fast-food restaurant's Web site. Look for their menu planner or nutritional analysis section. Here you'll find all the same information as in their brochure.

Plan ahead and know what to order before you get there. You can always balance high-fat items with low-fat choices. Perhaps you're having a burger, which is typically high in fat. Instead of fries or chips, choose a salad. Just beware the dressing. Make sure it's a low-calorie dressing choice, or just use half the packet or none at all.

Choose a sandwich or sub shop if it's an option. It's easy to order lean meats such as turkey on your sandwich, plenty of veggies, and no cheese or mayo. You can even buy half a sandwich and team it up with baked chips and iced tea for a filling, low-calorie lunch. The next time you find your car steering itself to the drive-thru, keep these pointers in mind.

Best bets:

  • Small or junior sizes of burgers, fries, and sugary beverages.
  • Foods that are "grilled," "broiled," or "flame-broiled."
  • Chicken fajita pita.
  • Baked potato with vegetable or yogurt topping.
  • Pretzels, baked chips.
  • Nonfat frozen yogurt, fruit cups, or fruit and yogurt parfaits.
  • Water, 1% or fat-free milk, or juice.

Waistline expanders:

  • "Deluxe" and "supersize" menu items. Even if those options cost less now or are a good dollar value, consider the health-care costs down the road.
  • Foods that are fried.
  • Fried chicken pieces or nuggets.
  • French fries.
  • Potato chips.
  • Apple pie, cookies.
  • Milk shake, soft drinks.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

More to Explore