Fast-Food Calorie Bargains

by Charles Platkin, PhD


McDonald’s (

  • Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich (without mayonnaise): 370 , 4.5g fat, 50g carbs, 32g protein.
  • Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken (before dressing): 260 calories, 9g fat, 12g carbs, 33g protein.
  • Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken (before dressing): 220 calories, 6g fat, 12g carbs, 30g protein.

Fit Tip: Always choose grilled rather than crispy chicken, and hold the mayo. Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette is the best dressing at 40 calories for 2 ounces while Newman’s Own Ranch dressing has a whopping 170 calories and Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar dressing has 190.

Burger King ( )

  • Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich (without sauce): 400 calories, 7g fat, 49g carbs, 36g protein. With the sauce it’s 450 calories, 10g fat, 53g carbs, 37g protein. If you get the Tendergrill without any bread or sauce, just plain chicken, it’s only 150 calories — not bad.
  • BK Veggie Burger (without mayonnaise): 340 calories, 8g fat, 46g carbs, 23g protein. (Add another 80 calories if you want the mayo.)
  • Angus Steak Burger — low-carb — without the bun, mayo or sauce: 270 calories, 18g fat, 3g carbs, 24g protein.
  • Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad (without dressing): 240 calories, 9g fat, 8g carbs, 33g protein. If you want the dressing it’s 300 calories, 9g fat, 24g carbs, 33g protein.
  • Side Garden Salad (15 calories) with Ken’s Light Italian Dressing (120 calories) and Garlic Croutons (60 calories): 195 calories, 13g fat, 15g carbs, 2g protein. (Or go with Ken’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing, which is only 60 calories for 2 ounces.)

Fit Tip: Anything low-carb that comes without mayo, ketchup or a bun will save you a bundle of calories. For a list of carb counts go to ( Even a Whopper with just the patty, pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and ketchup is only 255 calories.

Wendy’s (

  • Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich: 370 calories, 8g fat, 44g carbs, 33g protein.
  • Plain 10-ounce Baked Potato with Buttery Best Spread and a Side Salad with Fat-free French Dressing: 435 calories, 6g fat, 88g carbs, 8g protein.
  • Two quarter-pound Classic Singles without buns and nothing on them except ketchup: 430 calories, 28g fat, 4g carbs, 38g protein.
  • Mandarin Chicken Salad with Almonds (no noodles) and Fat-free French Dressing instead of the Sesame Dressing: 380 calories, 13g fat, 41g carbs, 28g protein. You can also ask for the salad without the almonds and save another 130 calories.

Fit Tip: Get two Ultimate Chicken Grill Fillets without bread for a total of only 260 calories. If you add ketchup it’s another 15. Eight slices (about 6 ounces) of Roasted Turkey Breast are only 160 calories.

Subway (

  • 6-inch Veggie Delite Sandwich: 230 calories, 3g fat, 44g carbs, 9g protein.
  • 6-inch Turkey Breast Sandwich: 280 calories, 4.5g fat, 46g carbs, 18g protein.
  • 6-inch Double Ham: 350 calories, 7g fat, 49g carbs, 28g protein.
  • Minestrone Soup (10-ounce bowl): 80 calories, 1g fat, 15g carbs, 4g protein.
  • Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup (1 bowl): 80 calories, 2g fat, 11g carbs, 6g protein.

Fit Tip: Order your sandwich without mayo or other special sauces. Opt for vinegar or mustard instead. If you want a bag of chips, choose Baked Lays. And if you’re really hungry, ask for a double meat 6-inch sub: roast beef (360 calories), turkey (330 calories) or ham (350 calories). The soups are also very low in calories. For instance, a 10-ounce bowl of Tomato Garden Vegetable with Rotini is only 90 calories. Subway has a great program called FreshFit: Pick one of their sandwiches with less than 6 grams of fat and get a choice of baked chips, apple slices or raisins and, for a beverage, 1 percent milk, water or soda.

Chick-fil-A (

  • Chick-fil-A Southwest Chargrilled Salad with one packet Fat Free Honey Mustard Dressing: 300 calories, 8g fat, 31g carbs, 22g protein.
  • Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad: 180 calories, 6g fat, 9g carbs, 22g protein.
  • Reduced Fat Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing: 80 calories, 2g fat, 15g carbs, 0g protein.
  • Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap: 410 calories, 12g fat, 44g carbs, 35g protein.

Fit Tip: You can get a Chargrilled Chicken “sandwich” without the bun and pickles for only 100 calories. And try the Diet Lemonade — a medium has only 30 calories.

Taco Bell (

  • Two Fresco Style Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco: 340 calories, 8g fat, 44g carbs, 24g protein.
  • Fresco Burrito Supreme (Chicken): 350 calories, 8g fat, 50g carbs, 19g protein.
  • Fresco Style Grilled Steak Soft Taco with Fresco Style Mexican Rice: 320 calories, 9g fat, 47g carbs, 13g protein.

Fit Tip: Order everything “Fresco Style” — meaning with salsa and without cheese or sauce. All the “Fresco Style” Burrito Supremes and the Enchiritos are pretty good, and they’re decent portions. The regular Gordita and Chalupa are not too high in calories either, but they’re smaller.

Jack in the Box (

  • Asian Chicken Salad (no wonton strips) with Almonds and Low Fat Balsamic Dressing: 290 calories, 12g fat, 25g carbs, 19g protein.
  • Chicken Fajita Pita with Salsa: 305 calories, 10g fat, 32g carbs, 23g protein.
  • Chicken Sandwich (without the mayo-onion sauce), a Side Salad (hold the croutons) and Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing: 410 calories, 16g fat, 48g carbs, 18g protein.

Fit Tip: The plain hamburger is 300 calories, which is not bad, but the specialty burgers can be more than 1,000.

Arby’s (

  • Regular Roast Beef Sandwich: 320 calories, 14g fat, 34g carbs, 21g protein.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Salad with Light Buttermilk Ranch Dressing: 277 calories, 8g fat, 24g carbs, 26g protein.
  • Medium Roast Beef Sandwich: 415 calories, 21g fat, 34g carbs, 31g protein. (This has a generous amount of meat; drop the bun and it’s only 239 calories.)

Fit Tip: The bun is what costs you the most calories in any sandwich, so you might want to use only half and save about 100 calories.


  • Tender Roast Sandwich (without sauce): 300 calories, 4.5g fat, 28g carbs, 37g protein.
  • Roasted Caesar Salad (without dressing or croutons): 220 calories, 8g fat, 6g carbs, 30g protein.
  • Roasted BLT Salad (without dressing): 200 calories, 6g fat, 8g carbs, 29g protein.

Fit Tip: If you take the skin and breading off the Original Recipe chicken breast, you’ll save 190 calories and 13.5g fat! And if you want a side, choose green beans (50 calories) or a large corn on the cob (150 calories). For salad dressing use the Hidden Valley Original Ranch Fat Free Dressing — it’s only 35 calories — or the Hidden Valley Golden Italian Light Dressing, which is 45 calories.

Long John Silver’s (

  • Baked Cod with two Corn Cobettes: 310 calories, 10g fat, 27g carbs, 27g protein.
  • Shrimp and Seafood Salad with Lite Italian Dressing: 280 calories, 13g fat, 25g carbs, 18g protein.

Fit Tip: Fish and seafood can be … as long as they’re not battered and fried. Go for cocktail sauce (25 calories per ounce) over tartar (100 calories).

Blimpie (

  • Grilled Chicken Salad: 350 calories, 27g fat, 9g carbs, 18g protein.
  • Garden Vegetable Soup: 80 calories, 0.5g fat, 14g carbs, 5g protein.
  • Hot Grilled Chicken Sub: 370 calories, 9g fat, 50g carbs, 25g protein.

Fit Tip: If you want potato salad, go with the mustard version rather than the regular to save 110 calories.

Carl’s Jr. (

  • Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich: 360 calories, 4g fat, 48g carbs, 34g protein.
  • Charbroiled Chicken Salad: 260 calories, 7g fat, 16g carbs, 34g protein.
  • The Low Carb Six Dollar Burger: 490 calories, 37g fat, 6g carbs, 33g protein.

Fit Tip: Use Low Fat Balsamic Dressing on the salads; it’s only 35 calories per serving. Watch out for some of the fancier hamburgers such as the Double Western Bacon Cheese Burger at 970 calories, and especially the Six Dollar Burgers, ranging from 1,010 to 1,520 calories.

General Fit Tips:

  • Say no to mayo, tartar sauce, creamy dressings and extra cheese. Don’t be shy — ask questions about preparation.
  • Use mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper or vinegar as fat-free ways to season your food.
  • In salads, watch the nuts, croutons and other add-ons.
  • Chicken and fish can be good choices — but ONLY if they are grilled or broiled, NOT breaded or deep-fried.
  • Instead of cheese, opt for lettuce, tomato and onion. Removing just one slice of cheese can save you about 100 calories.
  • Order a salad or a broth-based soup to enjoy before your main meal. Either one will help to fill you up for very few calories so that you eat less of the fattening stuff.
  • Go to the Net. Almost every fast-food restaurant has nutrition information available online.
  • Watch the weight. Check the serving size and look at the grams to compare the weight with that of other foods you normally eat. If you get more for less, that’s a Calorie Bargain.
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