Magazine cover image Get the Fall Issue

The #1 Healthiest Menu Option at 76 Popular Restaurants

Heed these tips for when you're trying to make smarter choices as you're dining out.
The #1 Healthiest Menu Option at 76 Popular RestaurantsCourtesy of On The Border

It should be no surprise that the average American is now spending more money dining out than on groceries. The problem is that this means we're putting over 43 percent of our nutritional decisions in the hands of restaurants—who, unlike you, don't care quite as much about your health. Consider this: A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that a staggering 92 percent of restaurant meals from large-chain and local restaurants average over 1,200 calories—some even exceeded the 2,000 calorie limit recommended for an entire day. Does healthy fast food even exist?

While many restaurants and fast-food joints don't always have your back, we here at Eat This, Not That! do! We want you to stay toned and trim, so we sifted through the nutrition information at all of your favorite fast-food, fast-casual, and chain restaurants to find the absolute healthiest option to choose for those "there's-no-way-I'm-cooking-right-now" nights.

To ensure our suggestions were truly the best-of-the-best for your waistline and total health, we used calories as a guide, but occasionally looked beyond the numbers and examined each menu item holistically in an attempt to choose a well-balanced option. Luckily, many of the following restaurants allow you to customize their meals to your liking, which puts the calorie-cutting power in your hands.

Arm yourself with this ultimate guide, and you'll be able to make it through the restaurant-dish battlefield unscathed! But before you think you're in the clear, remember that these chains still have diet-derailing options. So be sure to watch out for the worst menu options at chain restaurants.

Now, here are the 76 healthiest menu options you can order.

The healthiest menu items at sit-down restaurant chains

Healthiest fast food dish

The first 38 places on our list are the table-service-style Olive Garden and Fridays of the bunch. You're sitting down, surrounded by friends or family, and it feels like a nice night out. They probably have some very healthy-sounding meals—but restaurant dishes aren't always what they seem. Keep reading to find out the healthy restaurant meals you can order guilt-free to keep your diet on track.

1

Applebee's

6 oz Sirloin with Steamed Broccoli and Garlic Mashed Potato sides

550 calories, 26 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,830 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (6 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 40 g protein

It's your day off from cooking, so why not indulge in a nice, juicy steak? The way to go at Applebee's to keep your calories in check is to pick an item that allows you to choose your sides. Your main should be this low-fat, iron-rich cut of meat, which is perfect for a toned body. Go light with a 100-calorie side of steamed broccoli, and you can still indulge in some garlic mashed potatoes for all under 600 calories and 1,900 milligrams of sodium (which is extremely hard to do at Applebee's).

2

Bahama Breeze

bahama breeze tilapia Courtesy of Bahama Breeze

Classic Tilapia with Green Beans and Yellow Rice sides

515 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1,150 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 51 g protein

Grilled fresh fish is always a much smarter meal choice than anything that is fried, and paired with green beans and yellow rice, you have a meal that is truly satisfying.

3

Benihana

Tuna Hand Roll

Per 1 roll: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 10 g protein

At only 110 calories per roll, this is your best option off the menu when you're in the mood for some fresh sushi. Besides all the omega-3s you'll be adding to your daily intake, this roll is one of the lowest sodium options you'll find on the menu, too. Just make sure you don't eat too many of them in one sitting!

4

Bertucci's

bertuccis burrata bruschetta pizza Courtesy of Bertucci

Burrata Bruschetta Pizza

Per 1 slice: 180 calories, 6 g saturated fat, 213 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 13 g protein

This is a vegetarian pizza that features a blend of Pecorino Romano, mozzarella and basil pesto that is topped with diced tomatoes, burrata cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It's the pizza that is lowest in sodium per slice you can get at this Italian restaurant.

5

Blaze Pizza

Red Vine Pizza

Per 1 slice: 110 calories, 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein

What's great about sitting down at Blaze Pizza is that everything is "build your own," so you can customize your order exactly how you would like. Your best option for keeping things healthy though is going for the red vine pie on the classic dough. At only 110 calories per slice, it's safe to have more than one if you're sharing a pie with a few people.

6

Bob Evans

Bob evans rise and shine - healthiest restaurant order Courtesy of Bob Evans

Rise & Shine Breakfast with Freshly Cracked Eggs, Bob Evans Sausage Links, and Homefries

640 calories, 49 g fat (12.5 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,140 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 25 g protein

Although we'd prefer getting in a serving of veggies in an omelet, these three-egg monsters aren't necessarily waistline-friendly. The Goat Cheese Veggie Omelet, for example, adds up to a whopping 1,050 calories and over 3 grams of trans fat. Instead, keep it simple with the classic Rise & Shine breakfast. It's one of the few ways you can grab breakfast for under 1,000 calories at Bob Evans.

7

Bonefish Grill

healthiest restaurant dish bonefish grill salmon mango salsa Courtesy of Bonefish Grill

Small Salmon with Mango Salsa, Sides of Steamed Asparagus, and Jasmine Rice

590 calories, 24 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,165 mg sodium, 59 g carbs (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 36 g protein(

We've chosen salmon as our fish of choice, a fish that's full of omega-3s: a fatty acid whose anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to protect your brain and heart. We've topped it off with the low-calorie mango salsa instead of the higher-calorie, seemingly innocuous lemon butter.

8

Buca di Beppo

Bianca Pizza

Per 1 slice: 180 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 10 g protein

This is a typical white pizza that features garlic-infused olive oil and no tomato sauce in sight, which knocks out the chance of having any extra sugars.

9

Buffalo Wild Wings

4 Naked Tenders with Chipotle BBQ Seasoning, Sub Fries for Veggie Boat with Fat-Free Ranch Dressing

305 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 2,330 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (6 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 45 g protein

One of the worst things about Buffalo Wild Wings? Almost everything on their menu is saltier than the sea. That's particularly bad, as consumption of too much sodium is connected to hypertension, high blood pressure, and even addiction to sodium-laden fare. Because we know you can't go to B-dubs without having some amount of chicken or sauce, your next best option besides a plain garden salad is this winning combo of the small order of naked (unbreaded) chicken tenders. Save yourself another 2,000 milligrams of sodium by spicing them up with a seasoned rub instead of sauce, and pair with a fiber-filled side of celery and carrots.

10

California Pizza Kitchen

Healthiest restaurant dish California pizza kitchen zucchini shrimp scampi Courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

Shrimp Scampi Zucchini

480 calories, 26 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 27 g protein

Just because "pizza" is in the restaurant's name doesn't mean you have to order one. (But if you do, split the Hawaiian pie and pair it with the Asparagus and Arugula Salad from the small plates section for a balanced meal.) If you're not sharing dishes, you can save a significant amount of calories at CPK by going with the Shrimp Scampi Zucchini with multigrain penne.

11

Carrabba's

Tuscan Strawberry Salad with Chicken

520 calories, 33 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 770 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (7 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 34 g protein

Sorry, but the pasta portions are too big to even think about ordering. Just plain spaghetti with pomodoro sauce is 503 calories, but almost everything else climbs up to 1,000. Your best bet is going with this delicious, fresh, and well-balanced menu item, Tuscan Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken, which is a good balance on the protein, fiber, carb, and fat front.

12

Cheesecake Factory

healthiest restaurant dish cheesecake factory turkey burger Courtesy of Cheesecake Factory

Skinnylicious Grilled Turkey Burger

510 calories, 20 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,150 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (5 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 32 g protein

Home of monstrous portions and plates of food with over a day's worth of calories, this turkey burger is a nice reprieve from some Cheesecake Factory classics. It's also one of Jim White, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Spokesperson, Owner, Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, favorite menu items. While traditional beef burgers are also an Eat This!-approved choice, if you're looking to reduce your saturated fat intake, which is good for your gut, turkey is a leaner option.

13

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Filet Mignon with Broccoli and Asparagus sides

620 calories, 30 g fat (20 g saturated fat), 1,645 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 40 g protein

Filet mignon paired with vegetables is a filling, good-for-you menu option at Cooper's Hawk. Although this meal is a bit high in sodium, it's rather low in calories and yet still gives you a good dose of protein.

14

Cracker Barrel

cracker barrel country morning breakfast Courtesy of Cracker Barrel

Country Morning Breakfast

240 calories, 12 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 15 g protein

This breakfast is simple—just two eggs and grits—so it's easy to see why it's the best option on the menu! It does come with all the fixings though—two biscuits, gravy, butter, and jam, which will elevate this dish…and not in the best way. Skip all the extras and have just one biscuit, as it will only add on another 160 calories.

15

Chili's

Chilis 6 oz sirloin steak grilled avocado Courtesy of Chili's

6 oz. Classic Sirloin with Grilled Avocado

330 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (6 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 38 g protein

With the dawn of healthy dining, dieters can head to many chain restaurants without counting them as a cheat meal. That's thanks to the Mexican-inspired restaurant's new "Guiltless Grill," which includes this classic sirloin with avocado. This green fruit is full of healthy monounsaturated fats, which help your body absorb essential vitamins and minerals, extend your satiety to keep you from overeating, and help protect your heart, to name a few health benefits of avocado. Chili's recently updated this dish to swap out salad and blistered tomatoes for asparagus and pico de gallo to cut nearly 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, half a gram of trans fat, and 3 grams of sugar from the previous iteration.

16

Denny's

healthiest restaurant meal dennys fit slam Courtesy of Denny's

Fit Slam Egg White Scramble with Spinach and Grape Tomatoes, Turkey Bacon, English Muffin, and Fruit

430 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 860 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (4 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 27 g protein

The easiest way to make it out of Denny's alive is with this "Fit Slam" breakfast. It's one of the only dishes that doesn't have mounds of sodium and calories. While we'd prefer whole eggs, if you can't make the substitution, no biggie. You can get your choline from other foods like broccoli, spinach, and even peanuts!

17

First Watch

first watch sunrise granola bowl Courtesy of First Watch

Sunrise Granola Bowl

440 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 165 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (52 g sugar), 21 g protein

This meal option features non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, and housemade granola for a filling way to start your day. It is high in sugar though, so it's best to make sure you're not pairing this with any sweet extras.

18

Friendly's

Healthiest restaurant dish Friendly's all american burger and fries Courtesy of Friendly's

All-American Burger & Fries, No Mayo

786 calories, 32 g fat (8.5 g saturated fat), 1,036 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (5.6 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 41 g protein

It may be over 500 calories, but this burger is one of your best options if you're still looking to indulge at Friendly's (just make sure to hold the mayo to save over 100 calories). Until recently, most items on Friendly's menu had almost double the calories—and that included the salads. However, now the menu is looking a tad healthier. If you're really looking to go light, the chain famous for their monster sundaes also serves up a 475-calorie Lemon Pepper Fish entree.

19

Hooters

Wise Choice Snow Crab Legs

160 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 1,300 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 23 g protein

Hooters offers an entire section of their menu called "Wise Choice" that is made up of better-for-you versions of their staples. The Snow Crab Legs, for example, are served with a cocktail sauce instead of butter. Pair this with a salad, and you're in for a fresh, low-cal dinner.

20

IHop

Healthiest restaurant dish ihop simple and fit slam breakfast Courtesy of iHop

Simple & Fit Two-Egg Breakfast

390 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 820 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (6 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 29 g protein

We get that you're at the pancake house, but save yourself the sodium and order this "Simple & Fit" Two-Egg Breakfast. It's served with a cup of fresh fruit and a slice of whole-grain toast. Research has connected a higher consumption of whole grains with a longer life! Experts believe that whole grains digest more slowly in your system and can help ward off premature hunger pangs, which protects you against weight gain and the subsequent health problems.

RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you'll actually look forward to eating.

21

Johnny Rockets

johnny rockets the original burger Courtesy of Johnny Rockets

The Original Burger on a Wheat Bun

430 calories, 30 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 850 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 10 g protein

Keeping it simple is key here! The Original Burger at Johnny Rockets features shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, relish, pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise, so if you go light on the condiments, you'll be making this healthier. Pair it with a side salad for an additional 70 calories.

22

Longhorn Steakhouse

longhorn steakhouse shrimp lobster chowder Courtesy of Longhorn Steakhouse

Shrimp and Lobster Chowder, Cup Size

190 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein

Soups generally aren't supposed to be bad for you, but many restaurant versions serve up more sodium than you should have in an entire day. This shrimp and lobster chowder at Longhorn Steakhouse comes in low in calories and sodium compared to other options. Make sure you stick to the cup size and pair it with a side salad for a balanced meal.

23

Maggiano's Little Italy

Lighter Take Chicken Piccata with Spinach & Lemon Butter Fettuccine

650 calories, 24 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 1,320 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 62 g protein

Sure, there are lower-calorie pasta dishes, but they're lacking in muscle-building protein that will keep you satiated—and your calorie-burning muscles big. Here, you get the best of both worlds. Maggiano's has reimagined its most popular dishes with simple tweaks to make them healthier—and you can use these healthy eating tricks at home, too! Sear your chicken breast instead of deep-frying it, use a conservative amount of oil—enough to coat the pasta, but not too much that it covers the bowl—and add more flavor with vegetables, and herbs, like lemon zest, parsley, and capers, rather than adding extra slabs of butter.

24

Mimi's Cafe

Egg White and Veggie Omelet with Tomato Slices

227 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 822 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 24 g protein

We love the simple, yet flavorful, egg white and veggie omelet from Mimi's Cafe for under 300 calories. With 24 grams of protein and 9 grams of healthy fats, you'll be able to stay full until lunchtime. Pair with a cup of fruit to maximize the nutrition of this breakfast meal.

25

O'Charley's

Low Country Shrimp With Rice

520 calories, 31 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,000 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 20 g protein

Although it comes in a little more than 500 calories, shrimp and rice is usually a solid combination, and here, you get a filling dish that is packing in protein.

26

Olive Garden

Healthiest restaurant dish Olive garden herb grilled salmon Courtesy of Olive Garden

Herb-Grilled Salmon with Garlic-Herb Butter and Parmesan-Garlic Broccoli

460 calories, 29 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 960 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 26 g protein

A dish from Olive Garden that's under 1,000 mg of sodium and has no trans fat? Sign us up! Instead of losing more than a day's worth of carbs and sodium to their pasta dishes or filling yourself up with artery-clogging trans fat, order this Herb-Grilled Salmon. Just ask for the fatty butter on the side—or eschew it all together—because the heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acid-packed salmon already has enough of it!

27

On the Border

Healthiest restaurant dish On the border border smart chicken fajitas Courtesy of On The Border

Border Smart Chicken Fajitas

650 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,500 calories, 80 g carbs (20 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 53 g protein

Similar to other chain restaurants, On The Border also started their "Border Smart" options, which are all under 650 calories. This is the most balanced of the bunch—and also the most filling. A grilled chicken breast is served alongside a medley of sauteed veggies. It's all topped off with some fresh pico de gallo and a smoky tomatillo sauce.

28

Outback

healthiest restaurant dish outback steakhouse filet mignon Courtesy of Outback Steakhouse

Victoria's 6-ounce Filet Mignon with sides of Asparagus and House Salad with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

490 calories, 24 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,270 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (5 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 47 g protein

We know it's hard to believe, but the home of the 2,000-calorie Bloomin' Onion does have one or two healthy meal options. For our pick, we've chosen one of the best cuts of meat you can get from the popular steakhouse—the 6-ounce Victoria Filet. This prime cut is great for weight loss because it's low in fat. The side of asparagus is rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps the body debloat and flush out water and sodium.

29

Perkins

perkins turkey blt salad Courtesy of Perkins

Turkey BLT Salad, no dressing

380 calories, 19 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,280 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 38 g protein

A salad with roasted turkey and bacon on it? Yes, please! Perkins offers more than just breakfast, and this salad is proof you can enjoy a yummy, still-not-that-bad-for-your-overall-health meal at the restaurant.

30

P.F. Chang's

Healthiest restaurant dish pf changs singapore black pepper chicken Courtesy of P.F. Chang's

Singapore Black Pepper Chicken, Steamed

530 calories, 27 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,410 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 52 g protein

Believe it or not, but some dishes at P.F. Chang's can climb as high as 3,800 milligrams of sodium! (Hot & Sour Soup, we're looking at you.) That's over a day's worth of sodium in one sitting! Save your heart the burden by ordering the Singapore Black Pepper Chicken. It may still have more sodium than we'd typically recommend—so be sure to guzzle down a couple of glasses of water—but it's one of the lowest items on the menu. Plus, it's balanced with protein-rich fish and fiber-filled veggies. Ordering it steamed over fried also saves you 110 calories and 10 grams of fat.

31

Red Lobster

Wood grilled shrimp Courtesy of Red Lobster

Wood-Grilled Shrimp with Broccoli and Wild Rice Pilaf (no salad)

320 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1,850 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 27 g protein

You may go to Red Lobster for, well, the red lobster, but we think you'd be better off with the seafood chain's line of Lighthouse options, like this garlic-grilled shrimp. While you may notice another Lighthouse item, the maple-glazed chicken, is lower in sodium, it also boasts over half your day's recommended intake of added sugars—which can't necessarily be undone by sweating it out like sodium could. Eating too much sugar has been implicated as the major player in causing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.

32

Red Robin

red robins reds chili chili Courtesy of Red Robin

Red's Chili Chili

Per bowl: 400 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,400 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (6 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 30 g protein

Although high in sodium like many bowls of soup, Red's Chili Chili will keep you full, thanks to its 6 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein, all for only 400 calories.

33

Romano's

Healthiest restaurant dish Romanos pollo caprese Courtesy of Romano's Macaroni Grill

Pollo Caprese

560 calories, 22 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,080 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 50 g protein

You get a protein-packed scaloppine of chicken paired with indulgent four-cheese ravioli for under 600 calories. We'd say it doesn't get much better than that, but we haven't mentioned the metabolism-boosting spicy sauce that tops it all off!

34

Ruby Tuesday

Healthiest restaurant dish Ruby Tuesday Fit & Trim Top Sirloin Courtesy of Ruby Tuesday

Fit & Trim Top Sirloin with Grilled Asparagus and Spaghetti Squash

423 calories, 23 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,162 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 45 g protein

Spaghetti squash is certainly trending—and with good reason! It makes you feel like you're eating pasta, but with half the carbs. The vitamin C in the squash and asparagus is the perfect pair to help your body absorb the iron in the top sirloin. This mineral is important for proper blood flow and brain function.

35

Shake Shack

Garden Dog

220 calories, 7 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0.5 trans fat), 1,020 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 8 g protein

You might not think to go to Shake Shack and sit down for something that isn't a burger, but their Garden Dog is the healthiest menu option that is tasty, too. It's great for those who are vegetarian. It's a secret menu option, but you can ask for it and they'll make it.

36

Texas Roadhouse

texas roadhouse grilled bbq chicken Courtesy of Texas Roadhouse

Grilled BBQ Chicken

260 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 320 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 46 g protein

It's hard to beat a restaurant entree that comes in under 300 calories and less than 400 milligrams of sodium. It also packs a lot of protein, so this chicken is filling all on its own.

37

TGI Friday's

Healthiest restaurant dish Fridays parmesan crusted chicken broccoli Courtesy of Friday's

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Mashed Potatoes and Lemon-Butter Broccoli

700 calories, 38 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 2,630 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (10 g fiber, 5 sugar), 47 g protein

This is one of the few entrees at the chain that sneaks under the 1,000-calorie mark. This all-natural chicken is spiced up with a creamy white cheddar and Parmesan bread crumb crust and then served with lemon-butter broccoli and mashed potatoes.

38

Uno Pizzeria & Grill

uno herb rubbed chicken Courtesy of Uno

Herb Rubbed Chicken

310 calories, 20 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 990 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 32 g protein

A breast rubbed with rosemary, basil, and garlic sounds rather delicious, and considering the menu options at Uno, this entree isn't all that bad for you. It does come with two sides, and that's where things can get tricky if you're not strategic. To keep this meal on track, it's best to order the roasted vegetables and steamed broccoli sides, which bump this dish up to only 450 calories for a green-filled, healthy dinner choice.

The healthiest menu items at fast food chains

Healthiest fast food dish

The second half of our list is made up of popular fast food joints. You're probably swinging through the drive-thru or desperate for a meal while traveling, and you know going into it that you're not about to have a very healthy meal. But surprisingly, there are some options that won't completely undo your diet. Find out what's the top item to order at each of these 38 popular fast food places.

39

Arby's

Arbys roast turkey salad - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Arby's

Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad with ½ Packet Dijon Honey Mustard Dressing

330 calories, 21 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,055 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 23 g protein

Get your hit of poultry plus 23 grams of muscle-building protein—minus the trans fats and starchy bread that comes along with most of the other menu items. This is the healthiest fast food order at Arby's, and one of the most delicious. And bonus, it has bacon! It doesn't get much better than that!

40

Boston Market

Boston Market half chicken meal - low calorie restaurant orders under 500 calories Courtesy of Boston Market

Quarter White, Skinless Rotisserie Chicken with Green Beans and Steamed Vegetables

350 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 650 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (6 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 43 g protein

See, comfort food doesn't have to be detrimental to your waistline! This chicken, green bean, and steamed veggies plate is not bad at all when it comes to a fast-food cheat meal! If you're craving that one piece of cornbread that comes with the meal, you're looking at an additional 160 calories, which brings this meal up calorie-wise to a little over 500.

41

Burger King

Burger king hamburger Courtesy of Burger King

Hamburger

240 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 380 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 13 g protein

It may be hard to believe, but one of the best orders from BK comes served between two fluffy buns. Thanks to its low calorie, fat, and sodium counts, the King's classic hamburger is a safe and satisfying bet for anyone trying to maintain their flat belly. In fact, the sandwich is so healthy compared to the competition, that it's one of these diet expert-approved orders from Burger King.

42

Carl's Jr.

Carls jr trim it famous star - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Carl's Jr.

Trim It. Famous Star

430 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 610 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 24 g protein

Carl's Jr. may have the raciest ads in fast-food land, but some of its offerings are downright respectable, starting with its "Better For You" options. To create a classic Carl's Jr. meal with a low-calorie nutritional profile, you can stick with the classic Famous Star as long as you say "Trim It," which means they hold the calorie-heavy mayo. (It also comes slathered in their Special Sauce, so you won't even miss it!) Whatever you wind up ordering, be sure to steer clear of the chain's menu item that makes our list of the worst "healthy" fast food in America.

43

Checkers

checkers checkerburger Courtesy of Checkers

Checkerburger, no cheese

320 calories, 12 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 940 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 15 g protein

Sometimes you're just craving a burger, and there's nothing wrong with that! The basic Checkerburger—hold the cheese, though—is a seasoned all-beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion on a sesame seed bun with mayo, ketchup, and mustard. That's a lot going on, but it comes in a pretty decent calorie range for a fast-food burger. If you lose the condiments (even just one!), you're already setting yourself up for an even better option.

44

Chick-Fil-A

Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

310 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 820 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 29 g protein

Choosing this protein-packed, low-cal sandwich over the chain's Chicken Salad variety saves you over 100 calories and 10 grams of fat—leaving plenty of room for a healthy dessert if you're still hungry. We recommend grabbing a 50-calorie fruit cup to fill your belly and add immunity-boosting vitamin C to your meal. For more healthy menu options from the fast-food chain, check out these best Chick-Fil-A menu items.

45

Chipotle

Chicken, Pinto Bean, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and Veggie Salad

375 calories, 8.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,370 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (11 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 42 g protein

"When I eat salad, I use it as an opportunity to get some of my carbohydrates from beans. [At Chipotle] I ask for double the veggies so I'm fully satisfied and getting the most nutrients I can," says registered dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, RD, ACSM. To recreate White's go-to order, ask for a romaine lettuce base with one scoop of chicken, two scoops of fajita vegetables, one scoop of pinto beans, and tomato salsa.

46

Dairy Queen

DQ Chicken BBQ Snack Melt

Chicken Bacon BBQ Snack Melt

280 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 880 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 17 g protein

This a great way to indulge in one of DQ's more savory sandwich options in a smaller, yet similar way. Try this sandwich with a side salad for a satisfying bite.

47

Domino's

2 Slices Grilled Chicken and Jalapeno Pepper Pizza on Large 14" Brooklyn-Style Crust

540 calories, 20 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,640 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 30 g protein

Indulging in a slice or two of pizza doesn't have to come with a side of guilt. In fact, we give you permission to dig into not one, but two slices of this create-your-own pie. The grilled chicken is the leanest meat on the menu, and toppings like jalapenos add a kick of metabolism-boosting fiery flavor without adding major calories. And to discover the health factor of all of your favorite dishes, check out our exclusive ranking of every menu item at Domino's!

48

Five Guys

Veggie Sandwich

280 calories, 15 g fat, 1,040 mg sodium, 60 g carbs

Freshly grilled onions, mushrooms, and green peppers, layered with lettuce and tomatoes, on a soft toasted bun. You can't go wrong with that!

49

Hardee's

Hardees low carb thickburger Courtesy of Hardee's

Trim It 1/4 lb. Low Carb Little Thickburger

220 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 15 g protein

When it comes to fast-food burgers, it doesn't get much healthier—or lighter in carbs—than this. To whip up this mouthwatering creation, Hardee's takes a Black Angus beef patty and wraps it inside iceberg lettuce leaves, along with pickles, onion, tomato, ketchup, and mustard. If you don't see this offering on the menu board at your local restaurant, fear not. Just ask your server for the "1/4 lb. Low-Carb Little Thickburger" from the "Trim It menu," and he'll be able to make it. To discover more low-cal on-the-go meals, check out our guide to fast food burgers under 300 calories.

50

In-n-Out Burger

Regular Hamburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ Sauce—Protein Style

240 calories, 17 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 13 g protein

At In-N-Out, you can get your burger fix in a way that's still satisfying and yet slashes empty calories because of their lettuce wraps that replace the traditional burger burns, which they call "protein style." On average, you'll save about 100 calories by switching from a bread bun to lettuce.

51

Jack In The Box

healthiest restaurant dish jack in the box chicken fajita pita Courtesy of Jack in the Box

Chicken Fajita Pita

346 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,117 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 24 g protein

This Fajita Pita is one of the best entrees in the entire fast-food universe. Low in calories, packed with protein and fiber—save for the high sodium count—this is one meal that would be hard to top.

52

Jimmy John's

jimmy johns slim turkey sandwich Courtesy of Jimmy John's

Slim #4, Turkey Unwich

70 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 14 g protein

Yes, you read that right: this sandwich is just 70 calories. But that's because it's just turkey in a lettuce wrap. SO while it is very basic, it's the cleanest Jimmy John's menu option, and that's what we're here to show you, right?

53

KFC

healthiest restaurant dish kfc grilled chicken breast green beans Courtesy of KFC

Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast with Sweet Kernel Corn and Green Beans

320 calories, 8 g fat (970 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 44 g protein

A Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast is a solid option to turn to any time you find yourself at KFC. Enjoy a side of green beans and corn alongside the poultry for a light, low-calorie meal that'll keep you full and satiated for hours without derailing your weight loss efforts.

54

Long John Silver's

Long john silvers baked shrimp - low calorie restaurant orders under 500 calories Courtesy of Long John Silver's

3 Pieces of Shrimp with Rice and Green Beans (no hushpuppies or sauce)

271 calories, 2 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1,319 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 11 g protein

A grilled seafood entree is always a smart and healthy choice, especially because anything that is deep-fried will bring on a big dose of fat. The shrimp isn't breaded and fried as it's baked, so you don't have to worry about those extra calories and fat.

55

McDonald's

McDonalds egg mcmuffin Courtesy of McDonald

Egg McMuffin

300 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 18 g protein

Thanks to the chain's all-day breakfast initiative, you can now get your hands on this low-calorie, protein-filled dish around the clock off the McDonald's breakfast menu. Though you might assume the egg-white version is the better bet, the whole egg sandwich contains carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, making it the smarter pick, explains dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND. The yellow center also contains choline, a nutrient that helps boost metabolism. For more ways to boost your calorie burn, check out these best ways to boost your metabolism.

56

Moe's Southwest Grill

Moes homewrecker burrito - low calorie restaurant orders under 500 calories Courtesy of Moe's Southwest Grill

Homewrecker Jr. with Chicken, Beans, Cheese, Pico de Gallo, Lettuce, Guacamole, on a Flour Tortilla

476 calories, 22 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 991 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (12 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 30 g protein

Finally, a burrito under 500 calories, and plenty of fixings, too! Moe's Southwest Grill uses a smaller tortilla here, but still manages to fit all your favorite burrito fillings such as beans, guac, and cheese.

57

Panda Express

healthiest restaurant dish panda express beef and broccoli Courtesy of Panda Express

Broccoli Beef with Mixed Veggies

230 calories, 7.5 g fat (1.5 saturated fat), 1,060 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (7 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 13 g protein

Panda Express actually has several options with reasonable calorie counts. As with any Chinese food meal, the key is to skip the greasy mound of fried rice and an oily tangle of noodles. Pair a low-calorie entrée such as the Broccoli Beef with a side of veggies, and you wind up with a fairly nutritious meal that has plenty of protein to keep you full.

58

Panera Bread

Panera asian sesame chicken salad - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Panera

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

410 calories, 21 g fat (3 saturated fat, 0 trans fat), 540 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 32 g protein

This simple-yet-delicious salad has a near-perfect ratio of calorie, fat, carbs, and protein, making it the healthiest fast food pick at Panera.

"This powerhouse salad is hands-down the best without needing any modification recommendation," says New York City-based Telehealth Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDN. "You can even use all of the dressing because it amounts to only 410 calories in all." If you want a little more substance besides a salad, heed the advice of Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD: "Sometimes, if I'm on the hungrier side, I pair it with an apple or a whole-grain roll, which you can ask for instead of chips."

59

Papa John's

Garden Fresh Slice on Thin Crust

230 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fat, 460 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 8 g protein

We're typically apprehensive about using "garden" and "pizza" in the same sentence, but this slice—packed with onions, green peppers, portobello, and olives—turns a nutrient desert into the top choice at Papa John's. If you're prone to overindulging, invite a friend to go halfsies with you to keep the meal under 500 calories even if you go for that second (or third) slice.

60

Pizza Hut

Veggie Lover's Pizza with Thin and Crispy Crust

230 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 10 g protein

The Hut's Veggie Lover's pizza is by far the best pizza option on the menu since it's stocked with assorted vegetables, so you're in for some truly nutritious toppings that keep the fat and sodium content lower than any other pizza choice.

61

Popeyes

Loaded Chicken Wrap

310 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 14 g protein

This wrap is the best of both worlds: fried chicken and the chain's signature Red Beans & Rice all rolled into one. In fact, it's hard to believe that it contains a mere 310 calories while packing in 14 grams of protein and 3 grams of satiating fiber.

62

Potbelly Sandwich Shop

healthiest restaurant dish potbelly skinny tky sandwich Courtesy of Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Skinny TKY Sandwich on Multigrain Bread

300 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 870 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 24 g protein

It comes with a side of soup (garden vegetable) for an additional 70 calories for a cup, making for a nutritious, healthy meal.

63

Qdoba

qdoba impossible taco Courtesy of Qdoba

Impossible Taco

150 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

Impossible meat in a corn tortilla with red onions, cilantro, and salsa verde? Yes, please. You won't even miss the "real" beef here for only 150 calories per taco.

64

Quiznos

quiznos spicy monterey sandwich Courtesy of Quiznos

Spicy Monterey Sammie

300 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,120 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (4 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 18 g protein

The "sammie" version means this turkey, ham, and provolone based sandwich is served in a lighter pita.

65

Sbarro

sbarro ny cheese pizza slice Courtesy of Sbarro

NY Cheese Pizza Slice

430 calories, 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 970 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 21 g protein

While ordering a simple garden salad is truly the best way to go, if you're coming to Sbarro, you're most likely in the mood for some pizza. The classic cheese slice is your best bet as it is the slice lowest in calories and sodium.

66

Smashburger

smashburger cobb salad Courtesy of Smashburger

Cobb Salad, no bacon or ranch dressing

320 calories, 25 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 19 g protein

You're going to want to hold the bacon here, but this salad is still plenty tasty with fresh greens, blue cheese, sharp cheddar, fried egg, tomatoes, and onions.

67

Sonic

healthy restaurants low calorie meal options sonic classic grilled chicken sandwich Courtesy of Sonic

Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich

490 calories, 22 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 1,370 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 31 g protein

A soft ciabatta bun and breaded chicken join together with a host of veggies and light mayo to create this flavorful diet-friendly order. If you're looking for a little less when it comes to the salt department, don't miss these low-sodium fast food orders.

68

Starbucks

Starbucks Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Starbucks

Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

210 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 18 g protein

Lean protein from the bacon and egg whites meets its perfect accompaniment in the relatively low-carb English muffin. That's a powerful nutritional punch for a mere 210 calories. This is another all-day breakfast item we're proud to get behind.

69

Steak 'N Shake

Steak n shake single steakburger and fries Courtesy of Steak 'n Shake

Single Steakburger, no fries

310 calories, 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 15 g protein

In the restaurant world, "specialty" means excess calories and fat, and that rule certainly holds true at Steak 'n Shake. Steer clear of the chain's Specialty Steakburgers—the souped-up options with extra fixings—and order the Single Steakburger instead. It's the only burger on the menu that isn't laced with trans fat. Word of warning: Make sure your server holds the cheese. That's where the trans fat appears to be hiding out.

70

Subway

Subway turkey sub - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Subway

6" Turkey Breast on 9-Grain Bread With Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions, Green Peppers

250 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 650 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (5 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 18 g protein

The health halo surrounding Subway is a boon for the sandwich chain, but for everyone else, it's quite problematic. The numbers Subway advertises are only for a 6-inch sub and don't account for cheese, mayo, olive oil, or any extras most people get on their sub. Order a 12-inch sandwich with a couple of extras, and your "healthy" sub suddenly becomes an 800-calorie, diet-sinking torpedo. To be fair, though, there are many nutritious sandwich combinations at Subway, and this is one of them. Just make sure to go with 6 inches (not 12), mustard (not mayo), and take advantage of Subway's best option: unlimited veggies.

71

Taco Bell

Taco bell chipotle chicken griller - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Taco Bell

Chipotle Chicken Loaded Griller

340 calories, 16 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 770 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 14 g protein

Meet the Best Burrito at Taco Bell, containing the lowest calorie, carbohydrate, and salt count, plus 14 grams of protein.

72

Wendy's

Wendys grilled chicken sandwich - healthy restaurants low calorie meal options Courtesy of Wendy's

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

380 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 840 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 35 g protein

Going to the Wendy's drive-thru doesn't mean tossing your nutrition plan out the car window—just stick with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich and steer clear of the ever-tempting Frosties and fries. The healthiest fast food sandwich at Wendy's comes with a grilled chicken breast, tomato, lettuce, and a drizzle of honey mustard, a combination that's heavy on flavor and protein but light in the fat department. And better news? Wendy's has cut back on the amount of sugar in its honey mustard dressing, taking it down from 11 grams to just 8 grams.

73

Whataburger

whataburger garden salad Courtesy of Whataburger

Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken

295 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 810 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (10 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 33 g protein

This is one time where you don't really need to get a burger! The garden salad with grilled chicken is a low-cal option that is packed with protein.

74

White Castle

white castle original slider Courtesy of White Castle

The Original Slider

140 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 6 g protein

You can never go wrong with a classic menu choice and here, that is White Castle's Original Slider. The mini burger features a 100 percent beef patty inside a signature bun and overall makes for the best option if you're trying to watch your fat and sodium intake.

75

Wingstop

2 Plain Wings and Veggie Sticks with Ranch side

475 calories, 41 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 629 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 16 g protein

When in doubt, you can never go wrong with plain wings, as they are the lowest in sodium and saturated fat at this restaurant. Opting for the veggie side is always a wise choice, too, as it's a much lower in calorie addition to your meal that will leave you full.

76

Zaxby's

Zaxby's garden caesar salad Courtesy of Zaxby's

Garden Caesar Salad

280 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 730 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 18 g protein

This "zalad" as they're called here is a mix of greens, with a bit of bacon and parmesan cheese, reigns as the top choice as it's not loaded with unnecessary toppings like fried onions, Texas Toast, and chicken fingers.

Get the Fall Issue

Featuring delicious weight loss recipes, quick and easy sheet pan suppers, slow cooker tips and much more!

Olivia Tarantino
Olivia is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That! Read more