Don’t want to order a McSalad? We don’t blame you. Consider this supposedly healthy item: McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal contains more sugar than a Snickers bar. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that a recent survey by the food research firm Technomic found though 47 percent of Americans say they want healthier restaurant options, only 23 percent actually order healthy. Why? The study indicated that most people don’t believe healthy menu options are healthy. You’re (often) right!
So how can you eat healthier at the fast food joint? Follow this advice.
THE BEST MEATS
You’re in the clear with turkey, roast beef, and ham, but avoid sausage or bacon. Replacing that sausage with ham? It can save you up to 500 calories a week. If you stick with the sausage, pair it with something nutritious and flavorful, like jalapenos or sweet red onions.
It’s a rule of thumb: the less ingredients, the better. Take a BLT: bacon, lettuce, and tomato—simple. And usually never more than 400 calories. Beware: Many restaurants butter buns. Ask for it dry and save yourself 100 calories.
More from MensHealth.com: The 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America
THE PERFECT PIE
How about pizza? It all depends on the crust (choose thin over thick) and the toppings. Add toppers like spinach, pineapple, or ham instead of pepperoni—4 pieces can add almost 100 calories—to cut calories and add nutrients.
CHOOSE COLORFUL CONDIMENTS
Go with a colorful sauce. Red ketchup, yellow mustard, brown BBQ sauce: good. Creamy mayo, and “secret sauces”: bad. Burger King’s mayonnaise can add up to 160 calories to a burger. Swapping it with BBQ sauce saves you around 100 calories. Want an even better replacement? Salsa, America’s most popular condiment, is full of vitamins A and C from its tomato base. It also contains the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene.
GET IT GRILLED
Seems simple, but this rule is many-a-time abused in crispy chicken salads or KFC’s grease-lathered two-piece combo. Try asking the restaurant to swap fried chicken for grilled—it may not be on the menu, but it’s worth a shot.
PAY ATTENTION TO PORTIONS
The steak isn’t the problem so much as the size of steak. A serving size of beef is 3 ounces, the same size as a deck of cards. Consider this digit next time you’re eyeing that 12-ouncer. Save half of big-portioned meals for leftovers—this includes burritos, which can be a big-time offender of portion control. Chipotle’s Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito packs 1,179 calories. Halving portion sizes halves calories.
THE COFFEE CULPRIT
Your latte could be to blame for those love handles. Whipped up with loads of sugar, the jolt you get from these babies is from syrup, not caffeine. Switching to a macchiato or cappuccino will save you about 60 calories a cup. For the real caffeine addicts, consider an Americano—a few shots of espresso and hot water. Other coffee commandments: sugar-free syrup will save you up to 50 calories a pump, and always skip the whipped cream (it adds 70 calories and 7 grams of fat).
By:Cassie Shortsleeve/Men’s Health