It’s nearly impossible to eat healthy at McDonald’s or Burger King.
But if you aren’t packing a meal in advance and find yourself at a rest station in the middle of a long road trip, fast food may be your only option.
Here’s how you may be able to minimize your guilt:
On average, the ordinary person needs 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current body weight.
And a double cheeseburger with a side of french fries at McDonald’s runs 670 calories with 63 grams of carbs, 28 grams of protein, and 34 grams of fat.
The total fat equates to 43 percent of your recommended daily value, which is not great.
Plus consuming almost 700 calories in one sitting accounts for more than 30 percent of your total calories for the day.
Consider capping calories per meal at fast-food restaurants to around 500.
Most chains also post the nutritional value of their offerings on a website; it’s how I found the info for the double cheeseburger and fries.
It’s also entirely possible to eat 500 calories at a place like McDonald’s.
Order a single, regular hamburger and fries with 30 calories to spare.
Look For Protein, Stay Away From Fat
For athletes, it’s recommended to eat carbs and protein in a 2:1 ratio.
Fats help the body with hormone production and absorbing certain nutrients, but too much of it leaves most people feeling sluggish.
Opt for menu items higher in fiber and less in fat, especially saturated and trans fats.
Burger’s King’s Impossible Whopper exemplifies my point to a tee. It’s one of the lower menu items in total fat (34 grams) with 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Related: Is the Impossible Whopper Actually Healthy?
Eating fast food’s never perfect; it’s meant to be good to you not necessarily for you.
Grilled Not Fried
Usually, chains that serve a ton of menu items with chicken as the main protein source offer the choice of having it grilled or fried.
Chick-Fil-A’s a great example.
Order the grilled nuggets for 130 calories and 25 grams of protein compared to the traditional fried for 90 more calories and 8 additional grams of fat.
By ordering the grilled items, maybe you feel less guilty about dessert?
Customize Your Order
Sometimes, condiments on a sandwich contain a lot of superfluous, unnecessary calories.
Be extremely careful when ordering a salad. You’d be surprised how many calories and grams of fat there are in dressing.
The avocado lime ranch dressing at Chick-Fil-a is 310 calories and 32 grams of fat while the salad itself is only 160 calories.
Don’t be afraid to place your order and ask the person at the register to hold the mayo or cheese on your Whopper at Burger King.
A lot of chains offer condiments on the side or by the utensil and drink dispensers.
But be mindful of dipping sauces too. Some are high in sugar.
Hold the Bun
It looks bizarre when you eat it, but consider an open-faced sandwich if you want to cut down on the calories and carbs.
Toss away the top half of the bun or ask the chain you’re dining at if they wrap their burgers in lettuce.
Five Guys will swap out your hamburger bun for two leaves of lettuce, creating an almost carb-less burger.
Don’t Be Miserable
Sometimes, putting all these practices into place makes for a less than pleasurable eating experience.
Dining out doesn’t nor shouldn’t be this way.
But if you’re conscious about how you look and feel, don’t consider fast foods in the first place.
That’s why I’m giving you these tips because you’ll find yourself in situations where you don’t have a choice.
Sometimes, fast food’s the only option. Starvation isn’t an option; it doesn’t have to be.
Try one or two of these tips the next time you’re out on the road.