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The Fast Food Diet
Healthy Lunches on the Go

You have several options at each restaurant, so if one of the restaurants isn't nearby, you can use one of the others twice and have something different. We've also thrown in occasional facts and figures about the other menu choices, just so you know what kind of damage eating fast food can do to your figure if you aren't careful. We've kept nearly all the fast food lunches at less than 500 calories (all calorie counts come right from the restaurant's web sites).

(Article continued below.)

Day 1 — Wendy's

Choose one:
Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (360 calories, 7 grams fat)
Large Chili with Saltines and no cheese (325 calories, 9 1/2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber)
Sour Cream & Chives Baked Potato (340 calories, 6 grams of fat — even we wouldn't force you to gag down a plain baked potato! And you also get 7 grams of fiber with this menu choice)

Celebrate your first day with a 6 oz. Junior Frosty™ (160 calories, 4 grams fat). If you're not in the mood for a Frosty™, of if you're feeling especially virtuous, you can have a side salad with Low-Fat Honey Mustard Dressing (145 calories, 3 grams of fat).

Perhaps you're wondering why none of Wendy's meal salads are a selection. The reason is they're all served with very high calorie dressings — take the lightest example here, the Spring Mix Salad. It sounds harmless, and without the dressing it is. The salad itself is a mere 180 calories. Even adding the pecans at another 130 calories is okay — even though the 13 extra added fat grams are a bit much for a diet, nuts are rich in healthy, non-saturated fats. But then there's the 190 calorie House Vinaigrette Dressing — that makes it 500 calories total, and a not-terribly filling 500 calories at that. For the same calorie count you can indulge in the Sour Cream & Chives Baked Potato and dessert! Yes, you could replace the dressing with the Fat Free French, but even that has 80 calories, which is a lot for a fat-free dressing. Wendy's needs a lower-calorie, reduced-fat or fat-free dressing to bring its salads down to a reasonable lunch choice.

Day 2 — Subway

Since Jared Fogel very publicly lost 245 pounds on Subway fare, making this place a fast food diet choice is a no brainer. And you have more choices here than anywhere else.

Choose one. Remember to skip the mayo, oil and cheese and stick to one of the standard breads — White, Wheat, Sourdough or Hearty Italian:
6" Savory Turkey Breast (280 calories, 4.5 grams fat)
6" Savory Turkey Breast & Ham (290 calories, 5 grams fat)
6" Ham Sandwich (290 calories, 5 grams fat)
6" Turkey Breast, Ham & Roast Beef (320 Calories, 6 grams fat)
6" Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (330 Calories, 5 grams fat)
6" Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (370 Calories, 5 grams fat)
6" Honey Mustard Ham (310 Calories, 5 grams fat)

Surprisingly, four 6-inch Double Meat subs qualify:
DM Turkey Breast (330 calories, 5 grams fat)
DM Turkey Breast & Ham (360 calories, 7 grams fat)
DM Ham (350 calories, 7 grams fat)
DM Roast Beef(360 calories, 7 grams fat)

And don't forget the deli sandwiches:
Savory Turkey Breast (210 calories, 3.5 grams fat)
Ham (210 calories, 4 grams fat)
Roast Beef (220 calories, 4.5 grams fat)
Classic Tuna (300 calories, 13 grams fat)

Since this is a low calorie, not a low carb diet, there's only one Atkins®-friendly wrap that qualifies (the rest are over the calorie limit):
Mediterranean Chicken (350 calories, 18 grams fat)

Add a Veggie Delite® Salad with Fat Free Italian Dressing (95 calories, 1 gram fat)


A cup of one of the following soups:
Roasted Chicken Noodle (60 calories, 1.5 grams fat)
Vegetable Beef (90 calories, 1 gram fat)
Minestrone (90 calories, 4 grams fat)
Spanish Style Chicken with Rice (90 calories, 2 grams fat)

If your sandwich is 310 calories or less, you can have both soup and salad. That's a lot of food for under 500 calories!

Day 3 — Taco Bell

Taco Bell has made efforts to create healthier menu options, so you can now have something closer to an actual meal than just one skimpy soft taco and an order of Pintos 'n Cheese (180 calories, 7 grams fat, 6 grams fiber). There are over a dozen meal items you can order "Fresco Style," which means they replace the cheese and/ or higher-fat sauce with a tasty tomato, onion and cilantro salsa. This can save you up to a hundred calories and 10 grams of fat. Here are the options that will give you a decent lunch for under 500 calories:

Get the Pintos 'n Cheese your choice of the following:

2 Crunchy Tacos "Fresco Style" (300 calories, 14 grams fat for both)
1 Beef Enchirito "Fresco Style" (270 Calories, 9 grams fat)
1 Chicken Enchirito "Fresco Style" (250 Calories, 5 grams fat)
1 Steak Enchirito "Fresco Style" (250 Calories, 7 grams fat)

If you choose one of the following items, you can get it regular instead of "fresco Style":
1 Tostada (250 Calories, 10 grams fat)
Chicken Gordita Supreme (290 Calories, 12 grams fat)
Steak Gordita Supreme (290 Calories, 13 grams fat)
Gordita Nacho Cheese — Beef (300 Calories, 13 grams fat)
Gordita Nacho Cheese — Chicken (270 Calories, 10 grams fat)
Gordita Nacho Cheese — Steak (270 Calories, 11 grams fat)

If any of your meal choices is 290 calories or less, you can opt for the Mexican Rice (210 calories, 10 grams fat) instead of the Pintos 'n Cheese, but we recommend you go with the beans — they are more filling and you get a nice amount of fiber.

Day 4 — McDonald's

In 2002 McDonald's was hit by several lawsuits from plaintiffs who claimed the fast food's fare made them fat (as if these people had no choice in their menu options). You have probably also heard of the documentary Super Size Me, in which the filmmaker gained weight, along with a load of health problems, when he ate nothing but food from McDonald's. Since the company has received so much unfavorable press in the past couple of years, it has made efforts to offer a selection of healthier choices. Unfortunately, unless you want to spend a lot of time creating a special order, your low-calorie options are still pretty slim. The McDonald's website offers a whole section of nutrition tips if you want to figure out how to make their menu diet-friendly. You can check out their information at your leisure (there are a number of pages or .pdf files to browse through); right now we're going to cut to chase and list the ready-made items that will give you a 500-calorie-or-less lunch:

Choose one of the following:
1 regular hamburger (260 calores, 9 grams fat)
1 regular cheeseburger (310 calories, 12 grams fat)
(every other sandwich on the menu is 400 calories or over, unless you ask to have it served without any sauce, mayo or cheese)
Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken (240 calories, 9 grams fat), dressed with Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette (40 calories, 3 grams fat)

Surprise — you do get dessert! If your local McDonald's offers it, we recommend the Apple Dippers with Low Fat Caramel Dip (100 calories, 1 gram fat). Otherwise you can have the Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait (160 calories, 2 grams fat) or the Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone (150 calories, 3.5 grams fat). And you really should reward yourself with one of these desserts after your Spartan lunch.

Day 5 — Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A, as its name implies, specializes in chicken. While they certainly have their higher calorie choices, like the Chicken Deluxe Sandwich, which has 420 calories and 16 grams of fat, you've got some diet options:

Choose one:
Chick-Fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich (270 calories, 3.5 grams fat)
Chargrilled Chicken Salad Sandwich (350 calories, 15 grams fat — a little much on the fat side, if you ask us)
Chick-Fil-A Nuggets, 8-pack (260 calories and also a bit of a splurge at 12 grams fat) or the Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Strips, 4-count (290 calories and 13 grams fat) with the Barbeque sauce or the Honey Mustard Sauce for 45 more calories and no extra fat.

Your side dish choices — pick one:
Fresh Fruit Cup (60 calories, 0 grams fat)
Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup, regular size (140 calories, 3.5 grams fat)
Side Salad (60 calories, 3 grams fat) with Reduced Fat Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (80 calories, 2 grams fat) or Light Italian Dressing (30 calories, 1 gram fat). The Fat Free Honey Mustard Dressing is a trick — the container they give you has 120 calories, so skip it.

Day 6 — Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr. low-calorie choices are as sparse as McDonald's. But you do have a couple options — no one's forcing you to consume a 919 calorie, 51-fat-gram Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger (add onion rings — 436 calories, 22 grams of fat — and a small Coca-Cola Classic at 263 calories, that's a day's worth of calories and more fat than you would consume on one full day of this diet!).

Choose one:
Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich (370 calories, 4 grams fat)
Plain Hamburger (280 calories and 9 grams fat)
Charbroiled Chicken Salad-To-Go™ (330 calories, 7 grams fat) with the fat free French dressing (60 calories, 0 grams fat)

Add the following as directed:
If you're getting the chicken sandwich, your only option is the Garden Salad-To-Go™ with the Fat Free Italian Dressing (135 calories and 3 grams fat) — and even then you're actually over the 500 calorie limit by 5 calories. If you're getting the hamburger, you can have the croutons (70 calories, 3 gram fat) if you opt for the fat free Italian dressing. If you're getting the chicken salad, there are no sides available for you (unless you want more salad), so you can have the croutons.

Day 7 — KFC

Okay, so KFC got bashed for trying to claim its fried chicken constituted a healthy meal choice, but the fast food franchise does have a few decent lower-calorie choices. And since it's the last day of the diet, we're gonna let you indulge — note that corn on the cob and mashed potatoes are both side order choices!

Choose one:
Tender Roast Sandwich w/o sauce — use ketchup instead (260 calories, 5 grams fat)
Honey Flavored BBQ Sandwich with sauce (310 calories, 6 grams fat)
(You also could order a piece of chicken and pull the skin off, but let's get real — the whole raison d'etre of these chicken pieces is their spiced-up skin, crispy or regular. So just skip 'em — there's really no way to reduce the fat on fried chicken without ruining the whole KFC "experience.")

With the Tender Roast Sandwich, you get:
5.5" corn on the cob, no butter (150 calories, 3 grams fat)

With the BBQ Sandwich, you get:
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy (120 calories, 4.5 grams fat)

Everyone gets:
Green Beans (45 calories, 1.5 grams fat)

Next page >> More Fast Food Tips >> Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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