Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:21 AM ET
From the Editors of Men's Health
How serious can you be when you're talking to a clown? Millions of us face that problem as we approach the drive-thru squawk box-ornamented with wacky fast-food characters-and go all Goofy with our orders. No wonder so many of us weigh more than we want.
Dustin Robinson had exactly that problem. He was a busy guy, so he hit the drive-thru five times a week. The drive-thru hit back, to the tune of fifty extra pounds that Dustin didn't need to be carrying. But when he reached 250 pounds, he reached for Eat This, Not That!
Armed with better information, he was still talking to the clown, but not speaking nonsense. Concentrating on Eat This! Entrees like the ones you'll learn about below, he shed 10+ pounds a month. Now he's down to 215, and well on his way to his goal of 200 pounds. And he's still eating at the restaurants he loves-just eating smarter. To help you do the same, Eat This, Not That! has compiled this list of 10 fast food meals under 500 calories.
(Tell the clown we sent you.)
Less Than 500 Calories at Wendy's
Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich
with a Mandarin Orange Cup and a Medium Iced Tea
7 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
980 mg sodium
This is the healthiest sandwich on the menu. just don't order your chicken spicy: That's their cue to fry rather than grill your bird, tacking on extra 9.5 fat grams.
Less Than 500 Calories at Taco Bell
Two Fresco Soft Beef Tacos
with Mexican Rice and a bottle of water
17 g fat (6 g saturated fat)
1,760 mg sodium
Order almost any menu item "fresco" style and the Bell boys will replace cheese and sauces with a chunky tomato salsa, cutting calories and fat by at least 25 percent.
Less than 500 Calories at Subway
6-inch Double Roast Beef Sub
with Veggie Delite Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing and Medium Iced Tea
8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat)
2,100 mg sodium
Even with twice the meat-and double the protein-this sandwich still has only a fraction of the fat found in Subway alternatives like gloppy, mayo-based tuna salad.
Less than 500 Calories at Quiznos
Small Honey Bourbon Chicken
with a Cup of Chili (no crackers), and bottle of water
11.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat)
1,540 mg sodium
Opt for the honey bourbon mustard sauce over mayo or creamy dressings to add flavor without guilt.
Less Than 500 Calories at Pizza Hut
Two Slices Thin 'N Crispy Pizza (12")
with Quartered Ham & Pineapple, and Medium Diet Coke
12 g fat (5 g saturated fat)
1,110 mg sodium
No matter which pizza joint you pick, head for Hawaii. The ham and pineapple pizza is one of the healthiest combos you can order. Ham is one of the leanest meats you can put on a pie, while pineapple adds low-cal sweetness and a dose of antioxidants.
Less Than 500 Calories at McDonald's
Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich
with a Side Salad with Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, and a Medium Iced Tea
13 g fat (2 g saturated fat)
1,945 mg sodium
Just because the calorie count is relatively low doesn't mean the food is good for you. Mac's Grilled Chicken Classic matches the Quarter Pounder calorie count -- but the chick has no trans fats, while the burger does. Choose the sandwich and a side salad for a good combination of protein and veggies.
Less Than 500 Calories at KFC
3 Crispy Strips
with Green Beans and 3" Corn on the Cob, and a Medium Diet Pepsi
22.5 g fat (6 g saturated fat)
1,165 mg sodium
Order a side of green beans for a good source of vitamins K, A, and C-key players in maintaining strong bones and reducing cancer-causing free radicals.
Less Than 500 Calories at Jack in the Box
Chicken Fajita Pita
with Side Salad with Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing and a 20-oz Fresh Brewed Iced Tea
13.5 g fat (5 g saturated fat)
1,650 mg sodium
Loaded with fresh veggies in a fairly harmless pita vessel, this is Jack's healthiest entree, hands down. The biggest pitfall here is in the salad dressing--the low-fat balsamic costs you only 35 calories, but other decent-sounding options, like Asian Sesame Dressing and Lite Ranch--add over 100 extra to your meal.
Less Than 500 Calories at Hardee's
Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich
with a Side Salad with Low Fat Balsamic Dressing
7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat)
1,690 mg sodium
Barbecue sauce and a mound of fresh produce keep this meal in the safe zone. Resist the shakes and malts, though. They're meal-breakers of hte first and worst order.
Less Than 500 Calories at Dunkin' Donuts
Ham, Egg & Cheese English Muffin Sandwich
with English Breakfast Tea
15 g fat (6 g saturated fat)
1,040 mg sodium
English muffins have a fraction of the carbohydrates of a bagel, and none of the trans fats of the donuts and croissants. Drinking antioxidant-rich tea is also a great way to jumpstart your day.
Less Than 500 Calories at Cosi
Bombay Chicken Salad
with a tall cafe blend coffee
17 g fat
1,094 mg sodium
Skip the free flatbread that comes with your salad, even if it's whole grain. Both the whole grain and the original kind pack a whopping 43 grams of carbs and 215 calories.
Less Than 500 Calories at Carl's Jr.
Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich
with Side Salad with Low Fat Balsamic Dressing, and Medium Iced Tea
8.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat)
1,690 mg sodium
Barbecue sauce and a mound of fresh produce keep this meal in the safe zone.
Less Than 500 Calories at Burger King
Whopper Jr. without Mayo
with Garden Salad and 10-oz Minute Maid Orange Juice
12 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat)
520 mg sodium
Save 9 grams of fat by opting for barbecue sauce instead of mayo. At 80 calories a packet BK's mayo is one of the worst in the fast food world. Still feeling hungry after the last bite? Order a second Garden Salad. You'll still take in fewer calories than if you had consumed a small order of fries.
Less Than 500 Calories at Arby's
Chicken Fillet Sandwich - Roast
with Applesauce, and a 20-oz Diet Peach FruiTea
16 g fat (3 g saturated fat)
934 mg sodium
Replacing some of your daily carbohydrates with protein can lower blood pressure. Always choose a roasted or grilled chicken over "crispy" (read: fried) to save on calories.
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