The Core Diet Blog

Eating out at a restaurant, and worse yet, a FAST-FOOD restaurant means a detour from healthy food choices for many.  But it doesn’t have to!  Read below for some good options from several popular fast-food chains.  

But first, some general tips:

1)    When evaluating the options,look for nutrient-dense (think vitamins, mineral, fiber, phytochemicals: FRUITS AND VEGGIES!) choices that are not loaded with saturated fats (think dressings) or refined sugars or both.

2)    Watch portion sizes. Fast food is famous for super sizing, going “grande,” adding an extra 12 inches to your sandwich, and every other option under the sun.  Stick to the smaller options and even go for the kid’s meal/size to keep calories under control.

3)    Choose healthier sides. Fast food has come a long way, and French fries are now not the only option for your side!  Fruit, a green salad, or soup might be offered and a better choice than the chips, cookies, or fries.  

4)    Ask for what you want. Even though it’s fast food, you can ask for some customization at many establishments!  Holding the sauce or going “light” on an add-in is a reasonable request and can go a long way in making your meal healthier.  Most people assume the entrée salad is the best option on the menu, but that isn’t always so.  Salad dressings and salad toppers can increase calorie and fat content far beyond your imagination.  Ask for those items on the side, and you’ve instantly improved your meal!

5)    Do your homework! Most national chains have nutritional information at your fingertips (i.e., that phone that you are carrying around) and either have nutrition calculators or simple nutrition fact sheets available on their websites.

6)    Sometimes, just get the burger and fries. If eating out is a rare treat for you and eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins is the usual routine, the burger and fries have their place too!

Now, onto some useful tips about some of the most popular restaurants, we see our athletes dining at!

1)    Chick Fil A: facts found by clicking on each menu item)

  • Market Salad w/grilled filet or grilled nuggets, light on the added Harvest Nut Granola, Roasted Nut Blend, and dressing
  • Grilled nuggets or grilled chicken sandwich (hold the bun or ½ bun if not in a workout window)
  • Egg white grill (hold the English muffin or ½ muffin if not in a workout window)
  • Healthy side options: kale crunch salad, side salad, fruit cup, chicken noodle soup

2)    Chipotle:

  • Use the fantastic Chipotle calculator to design your customized meal!
  • The best options are to start with a “bowl” or “salad” base
  • Chicken, steak, or barbacoa are the leanest meat options
  • Cauliflower rice is now available!  This is the best “rice” option.
  • Add black or pinto beans
  • Fajita vegetables and as many of the salsas that you desire are a must
  • Skip the cheese, sour cream, queso, and other dressings in favor of “light” guacamole

3)    Noodles & Company:

  • Noodles & Company also has a calculator to help you pick your best options
  • “Zoodles” and cauliflower noodles are available when you are outside of a workout window and/or would like to boost your vegetable intake!
  • You can customize your meal (switch out proteins, ask for added veggies, etc.)
  • All meals come in a “small” and “regular” – depending on your calorie needs and training level, you can make the best choice 
  • Cauliflower rigatoni fresca with grilled chicken or zucchini pesto with grilled chicken are two great entree options

4)    Panera Bread:

  • Full nutrition information can be foundHERE
  • Good options are the “you pick two” with ½ salad and a cup of soup
  • The best soup options are the homestyle chicken noodle, turkey chili, and ten vegetable soup
  • Stick to the apple or fruit cup for your side vs. the chips or extra bread

5)    Pei Wei:

  • Full nutrition information can be foundHERE
  • The spicy Polynesian poke bowl is a good option but substitute the sushi rice with cauliflower rice and have the dressing on the side
  • Another option is the Mongolian steak, which has grass-fed steak.  Ask for extra vegetables and exchange the white rice for cauliflower rice

6)    Subway:

  • Full nutrition information can be foundHERE
  • Subway now was protein bowls, which are a great option outside of a workout window.  The best options are oven-roasted chicken, black forest ham, or a turkey bowl.  Hold the sauce, and you can double the meat if your protein needs are high!
  • If in a workout window, a sandwich could be a good option – choose plain turkey, oven-roasted chicken, or black forest ham and have it on 9-grain wheat bread.  Skip the sauces and if cheese is a must for you, choose provolone!  Most importantly of all, LOAD UP on the veggies!
  • Subway also has salads that can be good options as either an entrée or a side.  Remember, the three best options for protein are oven-roasted chicken, black forest ham, and turkey.  Red wine vinegar is the best option for salad dressing.
  • Skip the cookies and chips for your side and add the apple slices or applesauce

Let us know if you have a favorite restaurant we haven’t listed, and we can take a look for you!  Bon appetit!  

Your Company Name


Not ready to purchase?  Grab a discount or trial offer with us!  Just fill out the form below and we'll send you the details to take advantage NOW.