When you’re crunched for time, on the go, travelling or can’t bring food; fast food can be a necessity. While fast food and healthy may not have been words that would have ever fit together a decade ago, they are slowly coming together now. While I didn’t attempt a Supersize like experiment or Jared’s Subway diet, I did try to eat at different healthy fast food restaurant for 5 days in a row during a busy December week.
Here’s what I ate over the 5 days.
While there’s definitely been an uptick of healthy fast food places, it’s a small blip in the sea of fast food that’s out there. Other than Subway which has debatable healthy fast food status, no other healthy fast food brand has anything close to the brand recognition, landmark status or number of locations that many fast food chains have. While Freshii has some audacious goals to get there, until then it means that finding a healthy fast food restaurant takes a little more Googling and usually a little more walking/driving, which kind of defeats the purpose of fast food in a lot of instances. While Fork and Salad offers delivery, we didn’t test this out.
On the plus side once we did find the restaurants, we never had to wait in line. The one exception to this was Blaze Pizza which we went to on their free day.
Here’s how my meals stacked up nutritionally, according to nutritional information found on company websites. I deliberately tried to pick restaurants which had nutrition information available because we weren’t going to take the food to a lab to be tested. And while it’d be great if you were able to figure out if food was relatively healthy for people The one restaurant that we couldn’t find nutritional information for was Made. While the cashier mentioned that the nutritional information might be on the Made website, we found that while everything had a detailed ingredient list, the majority of Made menu items had no calorie and nutritional information.
|Extreme Pita Chimichurri Beef||Cultures Beet, Couscous, Tabouleh salads||Fork and Salad All Kale To the Caesar||Blaze Pizza Build your own pizza (4/6 slices)||McDonald’s Big Mac||A and W Teen Burger|
|Total Fat, Saturated,
|26,5,0||25, 2.3, 0||25, 8, 0||14, 5, 0||28, 10, 0||26, 11, 0.5|
While there doesn’t seem to be that much nutritional difference between the healthy fast food restaurants and the standard, keep in mind that people typically aren’t full after just a burger and are usually adding fries or another side. In comparison I found the Cultures salad trio and Fork and Salad Kale Ceasar salad substantially more than enough for one meal and the Extreme Pita Chimichurri Beef was also definitely adequate for a full meal. My orders for the week also had considerably more vegetables and less saturated fats and sugar than typical fast food fare which is good.
On the negative side, many of the healthy fast food meals still had similar high levels of total fat and sodium, coming close to half of a the listed daily recommended intake.
If you told people they had an excuse to eat fast food for a week for lunch they’d be pretty happy. If you told them it would have to be healthy fast food they wouldn’t be as enthused. I found the Kale Ceasar as good as any restaurant or home made salad and Blaze pizza to be just a step below places like Famoso and Double Zero. I was also pretty happy with the salad trio. If you aren’t very fond of salads, wraps or veggies though none of this is going to win you over. The chimichurri beef and BBQ chicken wrap were not noteworthy enough to write about or even really eat again, however this is something that I’d say about most food at fast food restaurants.
So with a little less convenience, a little bit better nutrition content and a taste that only some would love, is getting healthy fast food worth it? While I wouldn’t recommend emulating the Supersize diet plan at any of these fast food restaurants, I would recommend giving them a try.
Note: I originally didn’t intend for Blaze Pizza to be one of the 5 healthy fast food restaurants nor does Blaze really bill itself as one. I went with others to check it out while it was free. The display of calorie counts, great selection of vegetables and taste won me over and I didn’t want to get another meal after.