12 Healthy Chick-fil-A Orders, According to Dietitians
Chick-fil-A is perhaps best known for its tasty fried chicken sandwiches and dippable chicken fingers. And while fried chicken is in no way synonymous with "healthy," if you are trying to eat healthier while dining out, this fast-food chain actually has several different options to choose from. What's more? Chick-fil-A's healthy choices span different menu categories, including breakfast, sandwiches, and yes, even dessert.
If the concept of eating healthily at a fast-food restaurant like Chick-fil-A is daunting to you, you're not alone. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when dining at this popular chicken chain. For example, Dina Totosegis, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of Sprouting Foodies suggests sticking with the grilled options over fried: "When you're being mindful of eating healthfully, choosing entrees that include grilled chicken is always best. Grilled chicken sandwiches or wraps provide a great source of protein which in turn help stabilize sugar levels and keep you feeling good post-meal. Fried chicken, although it tastes amazing because we are naturally inclined to high-fat, high-calorie foods, can leave you feeling sluggish and tired right after your meal."
For further clarification as to exactly which Chick-fil-A items nabbed the RD seal of approval, read on. And for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
"This is a good choice if you need a quick and fast breakfast. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than traditional yogurt, providing 13 grams in this dish. It's topped with fresh berries which are good sources of fiber, helping you feel full longer than if you had the yogurt alone," says Talia Hauser, RD, LDN. "Be sure to get the harvest nut granola instead of the cookie crumb topping to keep the simple sugars in check. This parfait comes in at 270 calories, 9 grams of fat, 36 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein, which is a pretty good balance for a fast food option!"
Egg White Grill
"When it comes to fast-food breakfast sandwiches, Chick-fil-A's Egg White Grill is among one of the healthiest fast food options, which is especially true when it comes to Chick-fil-A's breakfast menu," explains Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. "This filling breakfast sandwich is only 290 calories and is the lowest in fat at 8 grams. At 26 grams of protein, this breakfast option will keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning."
Hash Brown Scramble Bowl
"This option can be customized to better meet your needs! With scrambled eggs as a base, add on the grilled fillet as an additional protein source. The grilled fillet is a lean source of protein, which will be a better option as the eggs provide a fat source in this meal," notes Leah Forristall, RD, LDN. "While this meal is slightly higher in saturated fat than you may be looking for, you can decrease the fat (and carbohydrates) in this meal by opting to remove the hashbrowns."
"It's possible to boost your plant-based intake even if you find yourself at a Chick-fil-A. You can order their medium-sized fruit cup, which includes apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries, and blueberries," says Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, plant-forward chef, nutritionist, and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook. "It's not organic, but it still counts as a fruit serving and will punch up your antioxidant intake."
Market Salad With a Grilled Chicken Filet
"If you would like to get a salad, definitely order it with grilled chicken and try avoiding the creamy dressings and stick with the vinaigrettes for less saturated fat intake. A great option is the market salad—grilled chicken breast, greens, apples, berries, and blue cheese," explains Hauser. "You get lean protein, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of fat from the cheese. This balance of food groups should help you feel full all afternoon without feeling sluggish like if you had a burger and fries."
Still, even though a salad may seem like a healthy choice, Hauser's recommendation comes with an important warning. "Be mindful of the sauces and dressings, most of them are high in sugar and fat," she shares. "They do offer light balsamic vinaigrette and light Italian dressings, as well as fat-free honey mustard." To eat healthy, opt for Chick-fil-A's Market Salad and none of the 25 Unhealthiest Restaurant Salads in America.
Lemon Kale Caesar Salad With Grilled Nuggets
"This is not the lowest calorie item on the menu at 470 calories, but it provides a good amount of protein for an entree salad with 43 grams of protein and provides a good source of leafy greens," notes Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, and writer at My Crohn's and Colitis Team. "To cut back on the calories even further you could use half the dressing."
Chick-Fil-A Cool Wrap
"With a whopping 42 grams of protein, this wrap is also high in fiber, providing more than a third of the daily requirements," says Silvia Carli, RD, a registered dietitian at 1AND1 LIFE. It's a great snack option or lunch option when paired with a salad (or some fries because those are also OK every now and then."
"These chicken nuggets don't come with any breading, making them lower in carbohydrates (only 1 gram of total carbs for an 8 piece serving), calories and fat. They're a great choice for people watching their carbohydrate intake, such as people with diabetes or those following a ketogenic diet," explains Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, a registered dietitian on staff at NextLuxury. "They're also lower in sodium than many of the other entrees on the Chick-fil-A menu, which is good for people with high blood pressure or otherwise watching their sodium intake."
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
"This is a lemon-herb marinated boneless grilled chicken breast served with lettuce and tomato on a multigrain bun," notes Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, registered dietitian and the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "It is high in protein, comes with some salad, and is under 400 calories. You can make it a bit healthier by adding more lettuce and tomato and going topless (skipping half the bun.)"
Waffle Potato Fries
"A small order of the Waffle Potato Fries is a great way to get your fry fix at just 420 calories," says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian and Head of Nutrition and Wellness at WW. "Since waffle fries = more potato, you're more likely to fill up on these (vs. your standard takeout skinny-fry."
Kale Crunch Side Salad
"Another healthy side option is the Kale Crunch Side Salad with only 120 calories." Klamer shares. "Opt for this salad instead of the side salad which has a surprising 470 calories with the standard avocado lime ranch dressing."
"Treat yourself to dessert!" declares London. "Always a delicious, satisfying classic: An Icedream cone is a go-to recommendation since it hits the spot when you want something sweet (and cold during the summer!). Plus, you'll add an extra 4 grams of protein to your order! The soft-serve is also made with more milk versus heavy cream so it's lower in saturated fat." For more ways to indulge in sweets at your favorite fast-food joints, just make sure to steer clear of these Worst Fast-Food Desserts—Ever.