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The 5 Best Fast-Food Orders for Abdominal Fat Loss, Says Nutritionist

These inexpensive fast-food picks won’t undo your health goals.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Any time you lose weight, you're likely to lose belly fat. But if you'd like to really zero in on the stubborn fat around your middle, you're in luck! Certain dietary choices may help slim down a so-called beer belly or apple-shaped figure. Some foods can help reduce visceral fat—the kind that wraps around the organs in your abdominal cavity. This type of fat, often responsible for a protruding tummy, is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat (the pinchable kind just underneath your skin). More visceral fat is associated with a higher risk of metabolic problems, heart disease, and type two diabetes.

If you're working toward losing weight around your belly, you'll want to steer clear of most meals that come through a drive-thru window. But for those times when you'd like a quick, inexpensive meal that won't undo your health goals, all's not lost! Some fast-food orders can actually support abdominal fat loss. As a nutritionist, I recommend these five picks.

Starbucks Fresh Blueberries and Honey Greek Yogurt Parfait

Starbucks Fresh Blueberries and Honey Greek Yogurt Parfait
Courtesy of Starbucks
Per serving: 240 calories, 2.5 g total fat (0 g saturated), 100 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 14 g protein

At breakfast time, a yogurt parfait is always an easy grab-and-go meal. This high-protein Greek yogurt option from Starbucks is an especially good choice, both for convenience and for banishing belly fat.

A well-designed study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium and vitamin D promoted the loss of visceral fat in overweight and obese adults. You'll find both these important nutrients in Greek yogurt. Meanwhile, the blueberries that top this tasty parfait sweeten the deal for your waistline. According to one animal study from 2011, these antioxidant-rich fruits could reduce abdominal fat, triglycerides, and total body weight.

Long John Silver's Seasoned Grilled Salmon Taco

Long John Silver's Seasoned Grilled Salmon Taco
Courtesy of Long John Silver's
Per 1 taco: 180 calories, 4 g total fat (1 g saturated), 580 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein

You might think everything on Long John Silver's menu is fried and loaded with empty carbs (hush puppies, anyone?). But the seafood chain's menu features some surprisingly healthy choices that could help whittle down unwanted abdominal fat.

Look no further than Long John Silver's seasoned grilled salmon taco, for example. Fatty fish like salmon are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Research shows that inflammation and overweight go hand in hand, so choosing salmon could boost weight loss in general. Plus, salmon is a great source of vitamin D—one of the key nutrients for trimming visceral fat. And since it's not fried or slathered in sauce, this svelte salmon taco clocks in at just 180 calories.

Jimmy John's Totally Tuna on Thick-Sliced Wheat

Jimmy John's Totally Tuna on Thick-Sliced Wheat
Courtesy of Jimmy John's
Per 1 sandwich: 630 calories, 29 g total fat (3.5 g saturated), 1100 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (6 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 28 g protein

For another fishy fan favorite, check out Jimmy John's Totally Tuna sandwich. Like salmon, tuna is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and packs a punch of vitamin D. It's also got plenty of protein, which curbs between-meal cravings.

When customizing your tuna sub, be sure to say yes to fresh veggies like cucumbers, tomato, and lettuce. They'll add weight-loss-friendly fiber and anti-inflammatory nutrients to your meal. And go ahead and order the Totally Tuna on thick-sliced wheat bread. Sure, it adds calories, but it also provides an impressive 6 grams of extra fiber. Then again, if your weight loss plan involves carb counting, try the Totally Tuna as an "Unwich" lettuce wrap.

Panera's Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken

Panera's Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken
Courtesy of Panera Bread
Per 1 salad: 510 calories, 30 g total fat (7 g saturated), 1020 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (8 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 37 g protein

Of the three macronutrients, protein is the perennial darling of weight loss. That's because this macro fills you up, builds muscle, and (hooray!) might even target belly fat. A small 2021 study on older men found that those who bulked up on protein had significant reductions in visceral fat. Other recent research gave some subjects a protein supplement, while others received a placebo. Can you guess the result? Those who added protein lost more visceral fat mass.

Still, lots of high-protein fast food orders are a double-edged sword. Along with their ample protein, they're loaded with sodium and fat. Fortunately, that's not the case with Panera's Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken. The tasty green salad serves up 37 grams of protein from mostly lean sources. (But pass on the bacon crumbles to cut back on saturated fat.) Fresh tomatoes, ripe avocado, and a bed of leafy greens complete the pro-weight loss picture.

Chipotle Veggie Salad with Brown Rice, Black Beans, and Fresh Tomato Salsa

chipotle salad
Courtesy of Chipotle
Per 1 salad: 370 calories, 8 g total fat (1 g saturated), 950 mg sodium, 63 g carbs (11 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein

Black beans top tons of lists of foods for melting stubborn belly fat (including ours)! Brimming with nutrients like iron and magnesium and packed with fiber, they're a can't-go-wrong plant-based protein. Several studies have associated a higher-fiber diet with weight loss and better diet adherence.

Black beans' fiber also serves as a prebiotic—aka "food" for healthy gut bacteria. That's good news for giving belly fat the heave-ho. A flourishing gut microbiome could be one key to scaling back visceral fat, according to new research from 2022.

Next time a Mexican food craving hits, make a pit stop at Chipotle. There, you can load up on black beans (plus whole grains and veggies) by building your own salad bowl. Skip the high-calorie cheese and sour cream in favor of fresh tomato salsa. You'll still get a satisfying, nutritious meal that nets you 12 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber—for just 370 calories.

READ MOREThis Is the #1 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Item In America, Dietitian Says

Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah