1. Taco Bell
Two Fresco Soft Tacos with shredded chicken: 280 calories, 7g of fat, 39% daily value of sodium
Black beans & rice: 180 calories, 4g of fat, 18% daily value of sodium
The very foundation of Taco Bell's Fresco menu is reduced calories -- it concentrates on replacing heavier sauces with its pico de gallo, a move that pays off well when combined with a soft taco and shredded chicken: two of its lower-calorie ingredients. Beans and rice are great together, but you can also just get the black beans if you're trying to avoid starch overload.
Corn dog: 230 calories, 15g of fat, 24% daily value of sodium
Small Natural-Cut Fries: 280 calories, 13g of fat, 12% daily value of sodium
Many of Sonic's menu items are region-specific, but not its corn dog, which is relatively low in sodium and arguably constitutes a full meal when paired with its... small natural-cut fries. Yeah. Sonic doesn't have any salads.
3. Burger King
Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich w/o mayo: 350 calories, 9g of fat, 25% daily value of sodium
Value-sized onion rings: 150 calories, 70 from fat, 8g of fat, 17% daily value of sodium
Go for the Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich without the mayo, and while other places would recommend you order the apple slices as a side, we know that's not going to satisfy anyone except people looking to avoid doctors. Go for the value-sized onion rings, which are comparable to its Satisfries but with fewer calories.
4. Carl's Jr./Hardee's
Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich: 390 calories, 7g of fat, 41% daily value of sodium
Garden side salad with low fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing: 145 calories, 6g of fat, 15% daily value of sodium
Going charbroiled is the key at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's -- stay away from the aptly named Thickburgers and even their turkey burgers, which have a tendency to go heavy on the condiments.
8-count Grilled Chicken Nuggets: 140 calories, 3g of fat, 22% daily value of sodium
Side salad: 80 calories, 4.5g of fat, 4% daily value of sodium
If the chicken isn't breaded at Chick-fil-A, is it still Chick-fil-A chicken? Well, yeah, technically! These grilled nuggets are the lowest-calorie entrée on its menu, and -- of course -- a side salad is its healthiest side. You won't even miss the pickles.
Kentucky Grilled Chicken Whole Wing & Drumstick: 170 calories, 8.5g of fat, 23% daily value of sodium
Green beans: 25 calories, 0g of fat, 10% daily value of sodium
It should come as no surprise by now (both in life and in this article) that grilled chicken is healthier than the fried stuff, and ordering only a couple pieces can definitely help on that front, too, since KFC lets you order that way. Green beans have the added benefit of actually being green, which is something most fast-food lettuce can't even boast.
Three-piece chicken tenders: 260 calories, 9g of fat, 46% daily value of sodium
Chili: 190 calories, 6g of fat, 27% daily value of sodium
Surprisingly, A&W's three-piece chicken tenders are the lowest-calorie entrée on its menu (better, even, than its salads, but still high in sodium), and its chili, while also high in sodium, still beats out a side salad in the calorie and fat content departments, which are not real departments, but rather figurative concepts.
Chopped Farmhouse Salad with roast turkey and light Italian dressing: 250 calories, 14g of fat, 33% daily value of sodium
Two Potato Cakes: 230 calories,14g of fat, 19% daily value of sodium
So, what can you expect from a chain that refers to sides as "friends of meat"? Well, it turns out the salad options at Arby's aren't half bad, with lean meats like roast turkey and a light dressing making it an actually filling option. As for accompaniments, it has two Potato Cakes! Which are kinda like the meats of the vegetable world, if you are weird and want to think about things that way
9. Jack in the Box
Four-piece grilled chicken strips: 250 calories, 7g of fat, 45% daily value of sodium
Side salad with low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing: 48 calories, 2g of fat, 18% daily value of sodium
The cat's out of the box: grilled chicken strips are a more diet-friendly alternative to Jack's normal fried ones, and a side salad with dressing will only set you back 48 calories, which you can probably burn by looking up where you can actually find a Jack in the Box.
Garden Fresco salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing: 245 calories, 11g of fat, 23% daily value of sodium
Dinner roll: 110 calories, 2g of fat, 7.1% daily value of sodium
Yeah, no ButterBurgers for you, unfortunately. Culver's actually does quite well with its greens, though, but you didn't really expect it not to top its Garden Fresco salad with Wisconsin cheddar, did you?
Three-piece blackened tenders: 170 calories, 2g of fat, 23% daily value of sodium
Regular green beans: 40 calories, 1.5g of fat, 17% daily value of sodium
Just like its close competitor KFC, Popeyes offers blackened (grilled) chicken tenders and green beans for the more health-conscious of its patrons. Its green beans may have a few more calories, but its chicken has less fat than the Colonel's on average. And thus the rivalry continues. (Make sure you get the green beans without gravy.)
Hamburger: 240 calories, 8g of fat, 20% daily value of sodium
Side salad with Newman’s Own Low Fat Family Recipe Italian Dressing: 70 calories, 2g of fat, 16% daily value of sodium
Who knew? The plain hamburger at McDonald's is probably its healthiest sandwich, all told, since it lacks the excessive carbs of a larger bun and is generally a simple and filling way to satisfy your fast-food craving. A side salad provides all the vegetables its plain burger lacks.
Protein Style hamburger: 240 calories, 17g of fat, 15% daily value of sodium
French fries: 395 calories, 18g of fat, 10% daily value of sodium
A Protein Style hamburger is the closest you're going to get to a salad at In-N-Out, and (BONUS) it still contains some beef! Its fries (not Animal Style, you... uh, animal!) are the least detrimental side on its menu, but that's not saying much.
14. Dairy Queen
Grilled Chicken Garden Greens salad with Marzetti Light Italian Dressing: 170 calories, 3g of fat, 30% daily value of sodium
Onion rings: 360 calories, 16g of fat, 35% daily value of sodium
You're better off going for a salad at Dairy Queen than for any of its sandwiches if you're looking to cut back on calories, and in terms of sides that aren't salads, you're going to be hard-pressed to find anything that qualifies as "healthy" in the traditional sense. So in that spirit, the onion rings are better than the fries.
15. Five Guys
Veggie Sandwich: 440 calories, 15g of fat, 43% daily value of sodium
Little fry: 526 calories, 23g of fat, 22% daily value of sodium
It's damn near impossible to find a healthy side at Five Guys, because it basically only has one option, and it's fries. Lots and lots of them. The veggie sandwich, however, is probably your best bet for a healthy entree short of just removing its burger from the bun, since it doesn't do Protein Style.
Ultimate Chicken Grill sandwich: 370 calories, 8g of fat, 42% daily value of sodium
Garden side salad with lemon garlic Caesar dressing: 130 calories, 11g of fat, 16% daily value of sodium
The Ultimate Chicken Grill sandwich is that rare fast-food sandwich that manages to be both healthy(-ish) and filling. If you want the garden side salad without the dressing, that's 11g of fat and 105 calories off the bottom line. But you'll be eating one dry salad.
Apple & Cranberry salad with low fat herb vinaigrette dressing: 305 calories, 10g of fat, 27% daily value of sodium
Small fries: 270 calories, 15g of fat, 14% daily value of sodium
Whataburger offers this entrée salad with chicken, too, but your best bet is to get it as-is with its herb vinaigrette dressing. And if you're still fiending for something fried, it has a small order of fries that should satiate your apparently Texas-sized appetite.
18. White Castle
Two Veggie Sliders: 300 calories, 10g of fat, 22% daily value of sodium
Smal onion rings: 229 calories, 12g of fat, 11% daily value of sodium
White Castle's Veggie Sliders very narrowly edged out its original sliders in that its Veggie Sliders have a comparable amount of calories, but less fat. And since the Harold-and-Kumar-craved chain doesn't have salads, you're better off going for its small onion rings, even if they're fried, as a side option.
Veggie Delite Salad: 60 calories, 1g of fat, 3% daily value of sodium
8oz Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup: 110 calories, 3g of fat, 30% daily value of sodium
A soup and salad?! Yeah, buddy. A lot of folks don't know that Subway can make most of its sandwiches into salads, and the Veggie Delite is a sure thing for those looking to cut back on carbs and calories.
20. Shake Shack
Shack-cago Dog: 315 calories, 15g of fat, 39% daily value of sodium
Regular fries: 470 calories, 23g of fat, 28% daily value of sodium
Shake Shack offers an amazing veggie-heavy, Chicago-style hot dog, and weirdly, its standard dog is healthier than its chicken variation due to a reduced sodium content. Its fries are the healthiest side, mainly because there literally isn't anything else. It's probably best to attack them with a friend, if you simply can't avoid partaking.
Vegetarian salad with black beans, fajita vegetables, and vinaigrette: 420 calories, 26.5g of fat, 53% daily value of sodium
Chipotle's customizability and array of ingredients can be dauntingly appealing, but don't let them shake your resolve: stick to a salad rather than a burrito bowl (and, if you can't do a salad, try and stay away from its 300-calorie tortillas), get it without meat, and skip the side of chips (they have significantly more fat than this salad). We know that sounds weird. Just do it. As for the high sodium, it's extraordinarily easy for this stuff to add up (the vinaigrette dressing is its largest source, so tell them to go easy on it or ask for it on the side.
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