Macro Friendly Fast Food

The idea of eating out while trying to count macros or stick to any type of meal plan can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining healthy eating habits long term. I think everyone has one of two thoughts: I can’t eat out because it won’t fit my macros/diet, or, I’m eating out, so I might as well go hog wild. Don’t get me wrong, I can relate to both ways of thinking. However there are so many places with healthy options that will still allow you to eat out while hitting your macros and without going crazy.

Part of the beauty of macro counting is having the flexibility to eat out when you need to, without completely forgoing your diet! Whether you’re stuck in the airport, you forgot your lunch at home, or you’re just flat out craving Chick-Fila (me about 3x a week), there are circumstances when fast food is a necessity. Today I’m sharing my tips on how to choose macro friendly options when eating out, as well as my three favorite places to eat when I’m needing something decently healthy, and what I order!

My Tips For Ordering Macro Friendly Fast Food

  • When given the option, choose a restaurant that has its menu items registered in MyFitnessPal.
    • This is my number one tip when it comes to eating fast food. Going somewhere that has all of its nutritional information in MFP makes eating out SO much easier because you can specifically pick macro items to fit your macros. For example, if you’re at chick fila, just search “Chick Fila chicken nuggets”, select the 8 ct/12 ct option, and you’re good to go.
      • An additional tip when it comes to entering fast food in MFP – any item with the green check mark next to it means the macros have been verified for accuracy by MFP, choose those whenever possible!
  • If the restaurant you choose doesn’t have its menu items in MFP, search a restaurant with similar menu items in MFP, and enter those instead. 
    • You are bound to run into this every once in awhile, especially if you’re eating at a restaurant that isn’t a chain. Not every restaurant you ever go to will have its food in MFP (I wish they did!). Do not let this scare you away from eating there! Entering a similar item is better than not entering anything at all. For example, if I’m eating at a fast food restaurant with no nutrition facts available in MFP, and I choose to get chicken nuggets that are fairly similar in size/taste to McDonalds, I would just enter the chicken nuggets from McDonalds. Is it going to be exactly the same? No, but it’s better than not entering in anything at all, or just completely guessing at the carbs/protein/fat.
  • Stick to something with lots of protein!
    • Just because you have room in your macros for a milkshake and medium fries from McDonalds doesn’t mean you should get them every time you eat out. See my previous post/thoughts on this here. Are those things okay every once in a while/in moderation? Of course. But when you’re in a pinch and need to grab something quick for lunch mid-week, it’s not the first thing I would choose. My advice is to stick to having something with a good amount of protein. Ie: salad with chicken, chicken sandwich, chicken wrap, etc. Ordering something with lots of protein is going to keep you full a lot longer than something carb heavy, like a milkshake or french fries.
  • Nix the carbs if possible!
    • My advice is to order the entrée only (ie: chicken sandwich, no fries), but if you’re really hungry and want a side to go with your entree, order a fruit or vegetable instead! By skipping out on the carbs, you’re allowing yourself more room for flexibility later on in the day when you have more nutritious carb options! As an added bonus, when you swap the carbs, you’re also skipping out on a lot of unnecessary fat from the fries/tots/etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to order the kids meal!
    • This may sound funny, but I do this ALL the time when I’m eating fast food. More often than not, if I’m eating fast food, it’s just to hold me over until I can find healthier options, so I don’t usually need a huge, adult sized meal to keep me full for hours and hours anyway. By ordering a kids meal, you get smaller portions, which automatically means more macro friendly, and sometimes you even have more options as far as sides go. For example, at McDonalds, you can’t order apples as a side unless you order a happy meal. So there’s definitely more than one advantage to ordering from the kids menu!

My Favorite Macro Friendly Restaurants and What I Order

  • Chipotle: Chipotle is one of the BEST restaurants as far as tracking goes. Each of their ingredients are separately listed in MFP, which makes it mindless to plug in your exact order! You also have complete control over what goes into your meal, so that’s a plus when it comes to tracking macros too!
    • What I get – Burrito bowl: half a scoop of brown rice + half a scoop of black beans + chicken + double fajita vegetables + corn salsa + medium salsa + half a scoop of sour cream + lettuce on top! Macros: 498 cals, 42P/51C/16F.

IMG_7405 (1)

  • Chick-Fila:
    • Chick-Fila has some of the best macro friendly food because there are so many grilled/high protein options, whether it’s a sandwich, wrap, nuggets, etc. Another benefit to Chick-Fila is that their items have some of the lowest fat content of any fast food restaurant, so you don’t have to worry about using up all of your fat macros on one menu item.
    • What I get – 12 count grilled chicken nuggets + 1 packet of honey roasted barbecue sauce (macro hack: this tastes exactly like Chick-Fila sauce with 1/3 of the fat and calories) + a fruit cup! Macros: 330 cals, 35P/26C/9F.

Nuggets

  • Panera
    • Panera has a ton of macro friendly options but you have to be careful about some of their items. You could easily eat your entire day’s worth of fat macros by ordering one of their salads. I’ve studied their menu enough to know what options are going to fit within my macros, but Panera is a restaurant that seems healthier than it is, more often than not. Look at their items in MFP before you order to make sure you know what you’re ordering!
    • What I get: “You Pick Two” with 1/2 Chinese Citrus Cashew Chicken Salad + Cup of Broccoli Cheddar Soup! (Macros: 21P/42C/27F)

So there you have it, my tips on making fast food more macro friendly! I hope you’ve found this post helpful and you’re able to carry these tips with you for the next time you’re eating fast food! If you’ve found other fast food macro friendly items, comment them below and let me know!

XOXO, A

(Photos via http://www.chickfila.com & http://www.panera.com)
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