Although fast food for sure not something you should eat every day (even if it says fast food seems to be healthyor trick you into thinking plant matter is nutritious), fixing nuggets is sometimes not the end of the world, unless the sodium content of these nuggets is staggering.
Always at the cutting edge of innovation and invention, fast food restaurants are constantly releasing new and exciting menu items and limited-time specials. As enticing as fried pickles or mac & cheese may sound, it’s important to pull back the curtain (or in this case, pull back the patty and the bun) to see what ingredients really lie beneath and the nutritional deficiencies. are worth wasting.
The past few months have seen a flurry of dazzling new fast food menu items and hotly anticipated seasonal specials Strawberry Frosty to new burgers without meat. But behind the buzzwords lies the fact that many of these newcomers are… less than healthy.
We consulted a registered dietitian to learn more about this combination of fast food innovations Amy Goodson about which new items to order or avoid, and some healthier alternatives if the cravings still persist.
Per nugget: 45 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium
This summer, for the first time in decades, 8-, 12-, and 36-count crispy snacks with sauce are available. The only big caveat right now is that they are currently only available in one test market: Charlotte, NC. But considering how not-so-great these little sodium bombs are, that might be good news for you. I’m sorry, Charlotte.
“While 45 calories and 3 grams of fat may not seem like a lot, once you start multiplying that by 8 and 12, it can add up pretty quickly,” says Goodson. “An 8-nugget order has 360 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 1,080 mg of sodium. A 12-gram nugget really kicks in with 540 calories, 36 grams of fat, and a whopping 1,620 milligrams of sodium, which is half the daily allowance. And remember, that’s without the side effects things!
To keep things healthy, Goodson stresses the importance of portion control. “Stick to the 8-piece nugget and pair it with some more nutritious meals like corn on the cob, green beans, or mashed potatoes. Pairing baked nuggets with fresh veggies will help you keep down sodium and fat.
Per bowl: 660-790 calories, 36 g fat, 57 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2,270 mg sodium
Apparently, KFC is feeling nostalgic this summer because the brand has also brought it back Another menu item that doesn’t work since 2019. The signature side dish, Mac & Cheese, quickly became a popular snack with crunchy popcorn. And again, it’s not the best choice for a healthy diet.
Unlike KFC’s mac & cheese side dish, these bowls are a calorie bomb. “While a side of mac and cheese may go well with a 140-calorie, 6-gram fat meal, the Mac & Cheese Bowl can increase your calorie, fat, and sodium intake,” Goodson explains. “At up to 790 calories, 36 grams of fat and 2,270 milligrams of sodium, that’s far more than most people need in a sitting position.”
If you still want to scratch that salty itch, Goodson recommends keeping a smaller portion no top with popcorn. “Instead of enjoying a whole bowl, order a side of macaroni and cheese. Pair it with grilled chicken breast, green beans, and corn on the cob for added protein and fiber. This meal is significantly lower in fat, sodium, and calories than a full Mac and Cheese Bowl.
Per McFlurry: 640 calories, 21 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium
America loves a McFlurry moment. Every time McDonald’s releases a a new ice cream treat, it turns into a McFrenzy. That’s why there’s been a buzz about a new, candy filled McFlurry flavor was tested in Southern California. Made with soft vanilla and sprinkled with Hershey candy pieces, it’s basically like a beefed-up version of an M&M McFlurry. But more candy means less health.
“Everyone should enjoy dessert once in a while, but at 640 calories and 21 grams of fat, a Hershey’s Mix McFlurry might be a bit much,” says Goodson. “Especially if you’ve also had a McDonald’s meal on this trip.”
Instead, she suggests keeping things simple and less candy if you want something sweet. “McDonald’s Vanilla Cone has only 200 calories and 5 grams of fat. The Vanilla Cone has only 22 grams of added sugar compared to the 83 grams of added sugar in the McFlurry. And it still gives you something sweet to cool off!”
PER sandwich: 410-450 calories
After a a whirlwind of drama, lawsuits and declining sales, the Metro was in dire need of renewal. And that’s literally exactly what he’s done with a complete revamp of the menu as part of the Eat Fresh Refresh campaign. This summer the circuit got rid of customization in its famously customizable menu (a bold move) and instead began selling 12 sandwiches that must be ordered as-is. But just because things are “refreshing” doesn’t automatically mean they’re a beacon of health, especially since some of said sandwiches are cheesesteaks and meat bombs.
With a wide variety of new sandwiches, from The Boss (burger marinara) to The Monster (meat monster with steak, bacon and Monterey cheddar), each one has wildly different nutrition facts, fat, calories and sodium. counts. “When it comes to offal, what you put between the bread can make or break the nutritional value,” says Goodson. While Subway offers many subs, here are some key steps to help you cut down on calories and fat.
For starters, she suggests using a 6-inch submersible instead of a foot. “Choose whole grain bread or a wrap for more nutrients. Remember more breads and those with cheese have more calories. If you really want to cut calories, try a wrap.”
For meat, Goodson suggests choosing lean meats like turkey, chicken, ham, and even roast beef. “Other meats like meatballs, pastrami, salami, peppers, etc. tend to be higher in fat, calories and sodium.”
And when it comes to condiments, moderation is the name of the game. “Sauces and spreads like ranch, mayo, and other creamy toppings pack calories. To get the most out of your pump, try Subway’s new mashed avocado spread or mustard. If you like the creamy version, put it on the side and use less.”
Via Impossible King Sandwich: 552.2 calories, 21.7 g fat (11.2 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 34.6 mg cholesterol, 1,998.9 mg sodium, 56.6 g carbohydrates (5.1 g fiber , 10.3 g of sugar), 29 proteins
Via the Impossible Southwest Bacon Burger: 795.7 calories, 42.3 g fat (14.7 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 36.9 mg cholesterol, 1,604.3 mg sodium, 73.3 g carbohydrates (7.2 g fiber , 12.2 g of sugar), 37.4 g of protein
Burger King rolled out two new plant-based sandwiches this summer: The Impossible King and The Impossible Southwestern Bacon. But don’t be fooled by the meatless pie: just because something doesn’t have meat doesn’t automatically make it healthy.
“While it may seem like a meat alternative might be better for you, the truth is that the Whopper Jr. and a good old-fashioned cheeseburger is under 350 calories,” notes Goodson. “If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to meat, the Impossible King and Impossible Whopper have less fat and calories than the Impossible Southwest Bacon Burger. Plus, the Impossible Whopper has added tomatoes, lettuce, and onions, which adds a little extra nutritional benefit and lower sodium than impossible king
Goodson also suggests ditching the mayo to reduce overall fat and calories. “Another way to reduce calories is to skip the buns and wrap the cake in a salad.”
in portion: 800 calories, 62 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 3,200 mg sodium, 54 g carbohydrates (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 7 g protein
Chicken fingers aren’t the only thing available at Zaxby’s. The lunch chain, best known for its crispy chicken, cut fries and signature sauce, decided it just didn’t have enough fried food on its menu, and went beyond bring back the limited time fried picklesbut to make them a permanent item on the menu.
Made with dill pickle slices covered in cornmeal batter, fried and served with buttermilk and herb ranch dressing, they’re the pinnacle of Southern comfort, and they’re pretty terrible for you, too.
“If you want to try this favorite menu item, consider sharing a plate with a larger group and pay attention to the portion size,” says Goodson. “A few bites can satisfy your craving without breaking the bank of calories.”
Another sharing option she recommends is Zaxby’s Crinkle Fries. “At 530 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 930 mg of sodium, a tall order has far fewer calories, fat, and sodium than pickles and is still a great snack. Split that among three people, and you’ve got half the delicious but higher-calorie meal. And if you’re prepping fries, try pairing it with a chicken salad. It’s another way to balance your plate and enjoy your favorites!”