In a perfect world, we’d all have the time and energy to cook and prepare all of our meals at home. But as we all know, this just isn’t a reality for most of us.
We’re busy and constantly on the go, and sometimes we need to breeze through a drive-through every once in a while. No shame!
If you’re following a macro-balanced nutrition plan, you might be wondering which fast food places and menu items are the most macro-friendly. We’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’re going to run through the most common fast food places and give you the best macro-friendly menu options so that you can confidently order, enjoy, and know that you’re making a healthy choice for your body.
Can Fast Food be macro-friendly?
Of course, it can, you just need to know what you’re looking for to ensure that your choices fall into the category of “macro-friendly.”
Let’s start by defining what it even means for a meal to be macro-friendly. Essentially, a macro-friendly meal is one that has a balanced distribution of macronutrients, with an emphasis on high protein and lower carbs and fats.
Fast food tends to be highly processed, fried, and full of trans fats, however, you can still pull off choosing a meal that’ll fit your macros at nearly every popular fast food restaurant. Our macro grocery list outlines a general roundup of foods that are considered macro-friendly.
Next, let’s discover what menu items will be your best options when it comes to fitting them into your macros.
Fast Food Menu Options That’ll Fit Your Macros
We chose some of the most popular fast-food restaurants and examined their menus to find the options that will give you the most bang for your macro buck. I’ll give the menu item as well as the kcal (calorie) total and macro count (F=fat, P=protein, and C=carbs). Take a look!
McDonald’s has a reputation for being one of the least healthy fast food spots, however, you can definitely find some macro-friendly choices.
- Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken –320kcal: 14F/9C/42P
- Egg White Delight McMuffin – 260kcal: 8F/29C/16P
- Southwest Salad w/ Grilled Chicken – 350kcal: 11F/27C/37P
- Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich- 380kcal: 7F/44C/37P
Chick-Fil-A is actually one of the better options when it comes to drive-thru meals. There are lots of options that will easily fit into your macro budget.
- 12-count Grilled Nuggets – 210kcal: 5F/3C/38P
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 310kcal: 6F/36C/29P
- Grilled Market Salad w/ Grilled Nuggets – 350kcal: 14F/27C/31P
- Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich – 430kcal: 16F/36C/37P
- Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap – 360kcal: 13F/30C/40P
- Egg White Chicken Grill – 300kcal: 7F/31C/25P
Subway has long been known for being one of the best healthy fast food places around. Of course, there are plenty of ways to make it not so macro-friendly as well, so it’s important to be intentional about your choices.
- 6″ Roast Beef – 320kcal: 5F/45C/25P
- 6″ Oven Roasted Chicken – 320kcal: 5F/45C/23P
- 6″ Turkey Breast – 280kcal: 3.5F/46C/18P
- 6″ Rotisserie Chicken – 350kcal: 6F/45C/29P
- 6″ Steak, Egg White & Cheese – 450kcal: 18F/45C/28P
Who doesn’t love Mexican food?! But when we’re watching what we’re eating it can be hard to fit it in. However, Taco Bell actually has quite a few macro-friendly options.
- Fiery Doritos Locos Taco Supreme – 190kcal: 11F/15C/9P
- Grilled Steak Soft Taco – 200kcal: 10F/17C/12P
- Fresco Soft Steak Taco – 140kcal: 4F/17C/10P
- Fresco Soft Chicken Taco – 150kcal: 6F/16C/9P
- Chicken Power Bowl w/o avocado ranch, rice, guacamole – 260kcal: 10F/17C/24P
Chinese, anyone? Panda Express has several macro-balanced options that allow you to enjoy Chinese food without the guilt.
- Kung Pao Chicken – 290kcal: 19F/14C/16P
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken – 300kcal: 13F/8C/36P
- Grilled Asian Chicken – 300kcal: 13F/8C/36P
- Teriyaki Chicken – 380kcal: 13F/14C/41P
- Broccoli Beef – 150kcal: 7F/13C/9P
Similar to Subway, Firehouse Subs has a nice reputation for being a healthier option as far as fast food is concerned. You can choose from several different options and enjoy a filling meal without a ton of extra calories and fat (the biggest key here is to skip the mayo!).
- Small Club on a Sub w/ no mayo – 290kcal: 9F/31C/20P
- Small Hook & Ladder w/ no mayo – 260kcal: 7F/31C/18P
- Small Turkey Bacon Ranch w/ no mayo – 310kcal: 13F/29C/20P
- Chopped Salad w/ Grilled Chicken w/ no dressing – 260kcal: 8F/15C/34P
- Chopped Salad w/ Turkey and Grilled Chicken w/ no dressing – 350kcal: 9F/20C/ 52P
Buffalo Wild Wings
I’m a sucker for all things buffalo flavored, so finding some macro-friendly options that I can grab on the go is crucial. Buffalo Wild Wings has some great grilled chicken options that fit nicely into your macros.
- Grilled Chicken Salad – 420kcal: 18F/27C/41P
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no toppings) – 360kcal: 9F/38C/34P
- Naked Tenders (4) – 170kcal: 1F/1C/37P
- Grilled Chicken Buffalo Wrap w/ Ave Sauce – 410kcal: 18F/25C/36P
Arby’s is a classic, but you either love it or you don’t. If you do, here are some of the best choices.
- Prime Cut Chicken Tenders (360 calories, 23 g protein, 17 g fat, 28 g carbs)
- Double Roast Beef Sandwich (510 calories, 38 g protein, 24 g fat, 38 g carbs)
- Chopped Farmhouse Salad w/ Roast Turkey (230 calories, 23 g protein, 13 g fat, 8 g carbs)
Burger King’s are everywhere, so knowing what to order from their menu will come in clutch when you’re out and about.
- BK Veggie Burger, no mayo (310 calories, 22 g protein, 7 g fat, 42 g carbs)
- Whopper Jr. Sandwich no Mayo (250 calories, 13 g protein, 10 g fat, 27 g carbs)
- Hamburger (220 calories, 11 g protein, 8 g fat, 26 g carbs)
- Garden Grilled Chicken Salad (320 calories, 36 g protein, 14 g fat, 16 g carbs
- Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich, no mayo (320 calories, 32 g protein, 6 g fat, 35 g carbs)
Another fan favorite. While you might not be able to enjoy a Frosty and still fit your macros, you can order the following items and make it work.
- Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (380 calories, 36 g protein, 14 g fat, 32 g carbs)
- Grilled Chicken Wrap (270 calories, 20 g protein, 11 g fat, 24 g carbs)
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich (360 calories, 35 g protein, 8 g fat, 38 g carbs)
- Small Rich & Meaty Chili (170 calories, 15 g protein, 5 g fat, 16 g carbs)
When I think of Starbucks, I usually think of coffee, however, they have some yummy food choices too that won’t break your macro bank.
- Spinach and Feta Wrap (290 calories, 19 g protein, 10 g fat, 33 g carbs)
- Zesty Chicken & Black Bean Salad Bowl (360 calories, 14 g protein, 15 g fat, 38 g carbs)
- Protein Bistro Box (370 calories, 13 g protein, 19 g fat, 37 g carbs)
Tips and Tricks For Finding a Macro-Friendly Meal at a Fast-Food Restaurant
When you find yourself heading to a drive-thru to grab something to eat, keep in mind that there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find something that will fit into your day, but you might need to be a little strategic.
A few good rules of thumb include:
- Looking for grilled vs. fried chicken
- Skipping the side of french fries and soda
- Choosing the smaller portion vs the larger one
- Looking for anything that has greens or vegetables in it
- Skipping out on the condiments
Can You Eat Fast Food and Still Lose Weight?
Yes, you can eat the occasional meal out from a fast food restaurant and still lose weight, absolutely. When it comes to weight loss, all that is required is to be in a calorie deficit, which can be achieved through eating anything so long as your intake is lower than you your expenditure.
Counting macros for weight loss is an optimal approach because you begin to understand that each food has a different nutritional value and you start to understand how the quality of your food affects your results.
So while you could eat McDonald’s every day and lose weight, you aren’t likely to look and feel as good as you would if you prioritized eating mostly whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and ample protein.
While eating out at fast-food restaurants isn’t the most ideal nutrition situation, it needs to happen sometimes. The best thing we can do is to arm ourselves with the knowledge about which restaurants are best and what to choose on the menu when we get there.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t make the best choices, one meal isn’t going to completely unravel your progress. Macro tracking is a lifestyle and it’s not one that’s meant to be restrictive in any way. If you end up going over your macros one day because you hit up the drive-thru after work, so be it. Start back with your healthy habits the very next day.