Top Fast-Food Picks for People with Diabetes

By: Diabetic Living Editors  |  Diabetic Living Magazine

Fast food is not off-limits for people with diabetes, but knowing what to order makes all the difference. Check out our top picks for healthier eating at fast-food restaurants.

Healthy Choices Made Easy!

Healthy Choices Made Easy!

Sometimes you can't beat the convenience and price of a drive-through meal. Here are some fast-food options that won't derail your goals.

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Best Bites at Burger Joints

Best Bites at Burger Joints

At burger joints, the calories, fat, and sodium add up quickly. Search nutrition information online to find options with fewer than 400 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 800 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Wendy's

Wendy's

Go for a healthful yet filling salad. This half-size order of Apple Pecan Chicken Salad at Wendy's is served with pomegranate dressing and pecans. To drink, choose unsweetened iced tea.

Nutrition Facts: 340 cal., 18 g total fat (4.5 g sat. fat), 60 mg chol., 700 mg sodium, 29 g carb. (4 g fiber, 22 g sugars), 19 g pro.

McDonald's

McDonald's

For 15 grams of fast protein, choose the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald's. Apple slices and unsweetened iced tea are refreshing and healthful side and drink choices.

Nutrition Facts: 400 cal., 18 g total fat (3.5 g sat. fat), 40 mg chol., 644 mg sodium, 42 g carb. (2 g fiber, 8 g sugars), 15 g pro.

Burger King

Burger King

The Whopper Jr. sandwich makes our list of fast-food picks, and you can even get it with cheese -- but hold the mayonnaise. Resist the fries and balance out the meal with apple slices and diet soda.

Nutrition Facts: 330 cal., 13 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 45 mg chol., 640 mg sodium, 39 g carb. (2 g fiber, 13 g sugars), 16 g pro.

Best Choices at Sandwich Shops

Best Choices at Sandwich Shops

To keep carbs within healthful amounts, pick half-size sandwiches or breadless options loaded with vegetables.

Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's

At Jimmy John's, order the #1 -- the Pepe -- as an Unwich, meaning the fillings are wrapped in lettuce instead of bread. Trade the mayonnaise for mustard, and have Thinny Chips and a diet soda on the side.

Nutrition Facts: 317 cal., 15 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 46 mg chol., 924 mg sodium, 24 g carb. (4 g fiber), 20 g pro.

Panera Bread

Panera Bread

At Panera Bread, opt for a balanced meal from the You Pick Two menu. We chose the low-cholesterol, high-fiber combination of a half Smoked Turkey Breast sandwich on Honey Wheat Loaf bread with a cup of Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable with Pesto soup. To drink, have Acai Berry Iced Green Tea.

Nutrition Facts: 310 cal., 7 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 20 mg chol., 1,300 mg sodium, 47 g carb. (11 g fiber, 9 g sugars), 18 g pro

Subway

A fresh and healthful option at Subway is the 6-inch Veggie Delite sub on Monterey Cheddar bread with lettuce, tomato, green sweet pepper, cucumber, and provolone cheese. To drink, choose a diet soda.

Nutrition Facts: 310 cal., 10 g total fat (4.5 g sat. fat), 20 mg chol., 485 mg sodium, 42 g carb. (3 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 14 g pro.

Healthful Chicken Choices at Fast-Food Restaurants

Healthful Chicken Choices at Fast-Food Restaurants

Limit saturated fat by ordering skinless grilled chicken or a small serving of breaded chicken, such as nuggets or a half-breast piece. Round out your meal with a side dish that provides a serving of fruit or vegetables.

Popeyes

Popeyes

Popeyes six-piece chicken tenders and regular green beans is a good, high-protein choice when you're on the go. Order applesauce on the side and a diet soda to drink.

Nutrition Facts: 320 cal, 15.5 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 45 mg chol., 780 mg sodium, 32 g carb. (5 g fiber, 9 g sugars), 13 g pro.

KFC

KFC

Whenever you can, choose grilled or baked chicken over fried, such as this protein-loaded grilled chicken breast and wing at KFC. Order sweet kernel corn and a diet soda.

Nutrition Facts: 400 cal., 12 g total fat (3.5 g sat. fat), 185 mg chol., 980 mg sodium, 22 g carb. (2 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 53 g pro.

Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A

Weighing in with only 4 grams of fat is this fast-food meal from Chick-Fil-A, which consists of a char-grilled chicken sandwich, small fruit cup, and unsweetened iced tea.

Nutrition Facts: 340 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 60 mg chol., 790 mg sodium, 49 g carb. (4 g fiber, 20 g sugars), 28 g pro.

Nutritious Fast-Food Mexican Meals

Nutritious Fast-Food Mexican Meals

Skip large burritos and fried foods to steer clear of excess calories and fat. Top servings with fresh salsa, vegetables, and beans to get some fiber.

Qdoba

Qdoba

Near a Qdoba restaurant? Get a naked burrito with pulled pork, pinto beans, lettuce, fajita vegetables, and mango salsa for an easy, fiber-packed meal. Have a diet soda to drink.

Nutrition Facts: 385 cal., 6 g total fat (1.5 g sat. fat), 80 mg chol., 875 mg sodium, 52 g carb. (14 g fiber, 12 g sugars), 27 g pro.

Chipotle

Chipotle

For a fast, filling meal that's loaded with protein, grab three of Chipotle's crispy tacos with chicken, lettuce, and fresh tomato salsa, complete with a diet soda.

Nutrition Facts: 390 cal., 12.5 g total fat (3.5 g sat. fat), 115 mg chol., 870 mg sodium, 32 g carb. (3 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 33 g pro.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell

At Taco Bell, we like to order the Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Tacos with Mild Border Sauce and a diet soda for 18 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat.

Nutrition Facts: 300 cal., 8 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 30 mg chol., 1,035 mg sodium, 38 g carb. (4 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 18 g pro.

Lighter Food-Court Meals

Lighter Food-Court Meals

It can be hard to find food-court choices with reasonable amounts of fat and sodium, so limit the number of times you eat there -- and follow the meal with some brisk mall walking.

Starbucks

Starbucks

With 10 grams of fat, Starbucks' Spinach and Feta Breakfast Wrap is a relatively lean lunch option when you're in a pinch. Opt for black coffee instead of a sugary specialty drink.

Nutrition Facts: 290 cal., 10 g total fat (3.5 g sat. fat), 20 mg chol., 830 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (6 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 19 g pro.

Auntie Anne's

Auntie Anne's

You don't always have to resist the doughy smells wafting from Auntie Anne's at the mall. Order the original pretzel dog -- skip the butter -- and wash it down with a diet lemonade.

Nutrition Facts: 320 cal., 16 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 35 mg chol., 740 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (1 g fiber, 5 g sugars), 11 g pro.

Panda Express

Panda Express

At Panda Express, get Broccoli Beef (no rice), Veggie Spring Rolls, a fortune cookie, and a diet soda.

Nutrition Facts: 312 cal., 11 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 10 mg chol., 1,208 mg sodium, 42 g carb. (7 g fiber, 8 g sugars), 14 g pro.

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