Better Fast Food Choices

We can’t deny the convenience of fast food joints, but we also can’t ignore the artery-clogging, blood pressure–spiking, pound-packing effects of regular visits to the drive-thru. Mitigate the damage by choosing fast food items (including beverages) that have less fat, sugar and salt. Also, cut back on calorie-laden sauces, mayo, butter, syrup and other condiments. It goes without saying that super-size is never super-wise. The big fast food companies provide nutritional information in-store and online, and we crunched some numbers. Below, some of what we’ll loosely term “smarter” choices for those who like their food fast.

Taco Bell
Your best picks here are the Fresco items. The Fresco Beef Hard Taco rings in at 150 calories and 7 grams of fat (add 30 calories and 1 gram of fat for the soft version), compared to the regular Beef Hard Taco’s 170 calories and 10 grams of fat (or 210 calories and the same amount of fat for the soft version). The Fresco Steak Soft Taco and Fresco Chicken Soft Taco are also good choices — each has 5 grams of fat, and weigh in at 160 and 170 calories, respectively. The heavyweight is the Fresco Burrito Supreme: The chicken version has 320 calories, 10 grams of fat and 1,120 mg of salt — which is not far from your recommended daily limit of 1,500 mg. Still, this item is a better choice than non-Fresco items like the Crunchwrap Supreme, which has a stunning 550 calories, 24 grams of fat and 1,230 mg of sodium. Get the lowdown on other menu items here.

Heeding the call of the green siren almost daily? Espresso-based drinks can be loaded with calories, fat and sugar. With every Grande Vanilla Latte made with 2% milk, for example, you’re swallowing 250 calories, 6 grams of fat and 35 grams of sugar. Switching to non-fat milk on any beverage helps: the same Vanilla Latte has 50 less calories and 5.7 less grams of fat. If Frappuccino’s your vice, pick the Skinny versions, which are made with non-fat milk (the regular versions use whole milk) and skip the extra flavour shots and drizzles. Definitely ditch the whipped cream: on a hot Grande-size beverage, it adds 70 calories. Your better bet: brewed coffee. A Grande cup has just 5 calories, and negligible fat. (Still: Go easy on the milk, cream and sugar.) Foodwise, a Blueberry Scone will tip your scales at 460 calories and 22 grams of fat; instead, give your sweet tooth the Marshmallow Dream Bar: 210 calories, 4 grams of fat. Get the figures on SBucks’ drinks and foods here.

Micky D’s is about disclosure, it seems: Their handy online calculator lets you tally up your favourite meals. A McChicken combo with medium fries and a medium Coke, for instance, nets you 1,050 calories, 44 grams of fat (or, 68% of your Daily Value), 1,070 mg of sodium and a whopping 61 grams of sugar. Better choices: A Mighty Caesar Entrée with Warm Grilled Chicken has 350 calories, 17 grams of fat and 830 mg of sodium, and enough protein (26 grams) to keep you satisfied for a while. Drink Diet Coke or water, and if you must have fries, get a small order (220 calories, 11 grams fat, 170 mg sodium), which will weigh easier on your conscience (and your gut) than a large order (560 calories, 27 grams of fat and 430 mg of sodium). Check out McDonald’s’ full nutritional details here.

Don’t know how to compare nutritional info for different foods? Visit the Government of Canada’s Healthy Canadians site.

Image courtesy of BXGD.

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