25 Low-Calorie Restaurant Meals Under 500 Calories
While it might be easier to treat yourself to a night out, it might get a bit overwhelming when you're scanning the menu that's filled with endless possibilities—and zero guidance on what's good (or not totally horrible) for you. Even when you think you're making a better decision by eating at a sit-down restaurant, their menu options aren't always that much healthier than their fast-food counterparts. It gets confusing!
Luckily, the following restaurants allow you to customize most meals to your liking, which means the calorie-cutting power is in your hands. To help keep you stay fit and trim, we rifled through the nutrition information at all of your fast casual locations, so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and eat. To make sure we recommended the absolute best dishes and meal combos for your waistline, we kept all orders to a maximum of 500 calories and 1,500 milligrams of sodium. And why not try out any of these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time while you're making these smarter meal choices?
Chicken, Pinto Bean, Tomato Salsa, and Fajita Veggie Salad, no dressing
Chipotle is the frontrunner when it comes to fast casual dining. Besides removing the GMO ingredients from their menu, they also promised to improve the already high quality of their food by cutting down on the preservatives in their salt-laden tortillas. Because we know you'll be taking a trip to Chipotle before that happens, try this chicken salad instead. Registered dietitian and personal trainer Jim White says, "when I eat salad, I use it as an opportunity to get some of my carbohydrates from beans." Besides a protein-packed scoop of pinto beans, he also likes loading up on veggies, which is why we've thrown on some nutritionally-dense fajita veggies on top of that fiber-packed romaine lettuce.
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
This simple salad from Panera is tasty, and has a great balance of fat, carbs, and protein. No wonder it's one of the healthiest Panera picks!
Rainbow Trout (Half) with Broccoli and Mashed Potatoes
Opting for the broiled version versus the "golden-fried" will always save you hundreds of calories. This low-calorie meal is rounded out by sides of that will keep you full, too. If you like to pair your fish with a condiment, we recommend opting for cocktail sauce over tartar sauce. To discover more satisfying eats that will help you trim down, check out these best carbs for weight loss.
Victoria's 6-ounce Filet Mignon with House Side Salad with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
We know it's hard to believe, but Outback, home of the 2,000-calorie Bloomin' Onion appetizer, does have some healthy meal options. One of the best cuts of meat you can get from the popular steakhouse is the 6-ounce Victoria Filet because it is low in fat. Even better, the side of asparagus is rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps the body flush out water and sodium.
And when you're cooking at home, get your protein fix with these best proteins for weight loss.
Blackened Cajun Salmon with Steamed Broccoli
The only main you can find on Applebee's menu that come in under 500 calories is this salmon, served with a side order of broccoli. That's right, we said the only dish!
Looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!
A Chinese meal that won't break the calorie or sugar bank? It is possible, and this meal is proof! Along with the 9 grams of hunger-busting protein comes a solid hit of immunity-boosting vitamin A and folic acid (a vitamin that helps the body break down, use, and create new proteins) from the broccoli.
Loaded Chicken Wrap
When you go to Popeyes, we know you're looking for some fried chicken, and this wrap gives it to you—while keeping an eye out for your waistline. This wrap rolls up fried chicken and the chain's signature Red Beans & Rice in one delicious handheld meal. 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.
Buddha's Feast (Steamed)
Some dishes at P.F. Chang's can climb as high as 3,840 mg sodium (Pad Thai Shrimp, we're looking at you). That's almost two days worth of sodium in one sitting! Save your heart by ordering the lowest sodium content item on the menu: Buddha's Feast Steamed. This steamed dish is loaded with baked tofu, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots, and tossed in soy sauce.
Herb-Grilled Salmon with Garlic-Herb Butter and Parmesan-Garlic Broccoli
A dish from Olive Garden under 1,000 milligrams of sodium and with no trans fat? Sign us up! Home of the never-ending breadsticks, Olive Garden's oversize portions of carbs can put the dietary discipline of any mindful diner to the test. Instead of losing more than a day's worth of carbs and sodium to their pasta dishes, order this Herb-Grilled Salmon instead. Just make sure to ask for the fatty butter on the side because the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid-packed salmon already has enough of it!
Grilled Market Salad with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
"If I were to eat at Chick-fil-A, I'd go for the very colorful Chick-Fil-A Grilled Market Salad with the vinaigrette on the side," says registered dietitian nutritionist Michelle Loy. "This salad features dark leafy greens, which are excellent sources of heart-protective folate and immune system-supportive vitamin A. The berries in the salad also contain disease-fighting antioxidants that help ward off chronic conditions, like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease." Plus, each salad is topped off with a healthy serving of grilled chicken to give you a boost of protein to help keep you satisfied.
Eat fast food on the reg? Be sure to check out these things fast food chains don't want you to know before you put fry to mouth.
Quarter White, Skinless Rotisserie Chicken Steamed Vegetables and Broccoli
If you didn't think comfort food could be low in fat, take a look at this entree from Boston Market. This chicken and veggie plate should be your go-to on your busy weeknights out. It carries just nine percent of the day's recommended fat, which isn't too shabby for a fast-food cheat meal! If you're worried this combo won't pack big enough flavor, ask for a side of their tangy, fat-free Poultry Gravy. Even if you polish off the entire lot, it will only add 10 calories and 85 milligrams of sodium to your order. Throw in the cornbread that comes with the meal as well, and you're looking at an additional 160 calories—still under 500!
RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.
Caesar Salad with Breadstick with Caesar Dressing
The closest you're going to get to an under 500-calorie meal at TGI Fridays is this salad with no options for sides because most entrees at the chain are over 1,000 calories.
Roast Chicken Salad
Get your fill of 25 grams of muscle-building protein without the trans fats and starchy, chemical-additive-packed bread that comes along with most of the other menu items at Arby's. Besides being the healthiest and most nutritionally rounded dishes at Arby's, it's also one of the most delicious. And with the added bonus of bacon, it can't get much better than that! But it's important to note the sodium here—you're going to want to limit the amount of dressing you use, so as long as you don't use all that's given to you with your meal, you'll come in under the limit we set.
When it comes to fast-food burgers, there is never anything wrong with going the classic route. And at Hardee's, you can get your burger craving satisfied with this men option.
Jack in the Box
Chicken Fajita Pita with No Salsa
Low in calories and packed with protein and fiber, this is one meal that we'd happily scarf down. The best here? The whole grains in the pita bread. We love whole grains because they contain all three parts of the grain, including the ones that are nutrient-rich and full of fiber to keep your hunger at bay.
Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Steer clear of those Footlong dogs and over to this classically simple grilled chicken sandwich at Sonic. A ciabatta bun packed with 10 grams of whole grain and tender grilled chicken sync up with a host of veggies and light mayo to create this flavorful diet-friendly order.
Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
With a leaner protein in the form of turkey bacon over the traditional pork, this relatively low-carb English muffin and egg sandwich is the perfect start to your day. It packs a powerful nutritional punch of 13 grams of protein for a mere 230 calories. This promising info makes it another all-day breakfast item we're cool with getting behind.
Au Bon Pain
Classic Oatmeal (Medium)
Starting your day off with a hearty bowl of oatmeal is always a solid idea. You can go ahead and enjoy a medium-size bowl from Au Bon Pain, too!
Long John Silver's
3 Pieces of Shrimp with Rice and Green Beans (no hushpuppies or sauce)
This grilled seafood entree is among the healthiest grab-and-go meals in the country, and one of the smartest choices at Long John's. Even though the chain has eliminated trans fats from the deep fryer, the breading and oils still pile on a hefty dose of fat, and that's why we recommend this dish. The shrimp is baked, not breaded and fried, so you don't have to worry about those extra calories and fat.
Charbroiled Chicken Salad
At Carl's Jr., the salad isn't a bad idea. Here, you'll feast on charbroiled chicken breast, red onion, tomato, a four-cheese blend, and croutons on a bed of iceberg lettuce.
6 oz. Top Sirloin with Steamed Broccoli and Grilled Zucchini
In the fast food world, it's hard to find a meal under 500 calories that doesn't contain the leanest of proteins, chicken. That's why this Ruby Tuesday's steak option is even more special!
NY Cheese Pizza Slice
On any given day, one in eight Americans will reach for a slice. When you're at Sbarro, be sure to go for the plain cheese slice. The Sbarro slices are extra large slice gives you a little extra than normal but leaves room for a nice, fresh side salad for an added boost of satiating fiber.
Moe's Southwest Grill
Homewrecker Jr. with Chicken, Beans, Pico de Gallo, Lettuce, Guacamole, on a Flour Tortilla
Yes—that is a burrito under 500 calories, and with all the fixings! Moe's Southwest Grill manages to fit all your favorite burrito fillings into this Homewrecker Jr. by using a 3-inch smaller tortilla round than Chipotle.
Slim #4 Turkey Unwich
This turkey breast sandwich from Jimmy Johns is a sight for sore eyes. It's the only sub and giant club sandwich under 500 calories; keep in mind that's with only turkey, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast with Sweet Kernel Corn and Green Beans
A Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast is a solid option to turn to when you find yourself at KFC. Pair a side of green beans and corn with the lean poultry for a light, low-calorie meal that'll keep you full without derailing your weight loss efforts.