What healthy fast foods can I eat for lunch if I want to lose weight?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
When you think fast food, you often picture a greasy burger and fries. But on-the-go meals don't have to be loaded with trans fats. Dr. Mehmet Oz, vice-chair and professor of Surgery at Columbia University who also directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital, did the research and discovered the best fast-food options that won't derail your diet. Read on to find out how to eat healthy when you're on the move.
  • Subway:
6-inch ham, turkey, chicken, or roast beef sandwich on wheat or 9 grain bread (Add lots of veggie toppings to up your vegetable intake.)
  • Manchu Wok:
Kung pao chicken and order of mixed veggies (Avoid white rice; ask for brown rice instead.)
  • McDonald's:
Premium Grilled Chicken Classic sandwich with extra lettuce and tomato (Remove the bread and eat with knife and fork.)
Two grilled honey mustard or chipotle chicken snack wraps (Again, ditch the wrap and eat with knife and fork.)
Add side salad to any meal
  • Wendy's:
Ultimate Chicken Grill with extra lettuce and tomato (eat without the bun.)
Side order of small chili
  • Taco Bell:
Two bean burritos, fresco style
Two fresco chicken or steak hard tacos with a side of fresco pinto beans
  • Burger King:
Double Whopper Junior with extra lettuce and tomato (Take off bun and eat with knife and fork.)
Side of apple fries
  • Papa John's Pizza:
Two slices of Garden Fresh pizza on whole wheat thin crust
One slice of garden fresh pizza on whole wheat crust with 1 whole wheat breadstick dipped in pizza sauce
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC):
Grilled chicken breast with two of the below sides
Side salad with no croutons and fat free ranch dressing
Green beans
Corn on the cob
  • Chipotle:
Taco salad with chicken or steak, fresh tomato salsa, hot sauce (optional), guacamole, add black or pinto beans if desired (NOTE: Avoid the salad dressing because it has 260 calories and 700 mg sodium. The guacamole, juices from the meats, and salsa should give the salad enough "sauce." Ask for extra salsa if you want more flavor.)
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

The good news is that today you can find healthy fast food everywhere. Whether you run into a quick mart or stop at a fast food restaurant, there are loads of healthy choices. Soft shell corn tortilla bean tacos with a side of guacamole. Salmon Caesar. Bean and chicken bowl with grilled onions and peppers, hold the sour cream. Fish soft shell tacos. Grass fed burger on whole grain bun. Skip the fries and ask for tomatoes and extra pickles. Sleeve of nuts and a low sodium vegetable juice. Sushi and edamame. 6" whole grain turkey sub loaded with veggies. Skip the mayo, add mustard or a squirt of vinegar. If still hungry, add an apple and forgo the chips. Or try a veggie burger sub. The options are endless.

Christie Parsons, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Many fast food restaurants are starting to offer healtheir options.  Losing weight boils down to an appropriate amount of calories for your body.  It is a balance of calories you consume throughout the day and calories you burn during the day.  For weight loss, you want to burn more than you use. 

Just as important as calorie counting, you want your sources of calories to be healthy.  For a person that needs 2,000 calories a day, they should not all be coming from candy bars!

For fast food restaurants, just like choosing healthy foods at home, choose foods that are not prepared with added fat such as frying or breading and frying. For example if you are ordering a chicken sandwich, choose the chicken that is grilled versus the breaded chicken.  This eliminates calories from the breading and frying.

Also, choose foods that do not have added sugars in them.  Some foods may be misleading, so be aware and look for the calorie count on the menu.  Some fast food establishments have begun to display the calories per serving on packaging and on the menu.  Use this as a tool to help you choose wisely.  As a general rule of thumb, aim for your lunch to be between 400 and 600 calories (based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet).


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.