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Bariatric Friendly Fast Food Options

By Alana Weisman | February 24, 2022

 

When you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight, knowing what to order from a fast food restaurant can be challenging. Patients often ask for advice on bariatric-friendly options at some of their favorite fast food chains so I reviewed a few menu options and broke it down so you can go to your favorite spot feeling prepared to make a healthy choice.

RELATED: Does having weight loss surgery mean giving up my favorite foods?

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken nuggets are a great choice for a few reasons. They provide 80 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein. This is a high protein option that is low in fat and carbohydrates and will leave you feeling full and satisfied. To give you a little perspective, the regular (fried) chicken nuggets provide 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate, and 17 grams of protein. The caloric value is double that of the grilled chicken. 

Chipotle:

Chipotle is a great option because it puts you in control of exactly what goes into your bowl. Here are some options that will fit into your bariatric-friendly eating plan.

  • Chicken: 180 calories, 7g fat, 32g protein, 0g carb
  • Steak: 150 calories, 6g fat, 21g protein, 1g carb
  • Barbacoa: 170 calories, 7g fat, 24g protein, 2g carb
  • Fajita veggies: 20 calories, 0g fat, 1g protein, 5g carb,
  • Fresh tomato salsa: 25 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 4g carb
  • Lettuce: 5 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 1g carb

My suggestion is to toss the chicken over a bed of lettuce and fajita veggies. The chicken provides the highest amount of protein, with only around 10 more calories. 

McDonald’s

McDonald’s breakfast menu has an Egg McMuffin lower calorie option. With about 310 calories and 17 grams of protein it’s worth considering. If you are really in the mood for the classic McDonald’s food, the 4 piece fried chicken McNugget provides 170 calories and 10 grams of protein. Keep in mind these options are higher in fat so having them as an occasional meal is fine but it’s best to stick to healthier options. Reviewing the nutrition facts beforehand will help you decide what to order.

Wendy’s:

Wendy’s has some great healthy meals on their menu. For example, their Southwest Avocado Salad provides 420 calories and 39 grams of protein without the dressing. It’s always better to request dressing on the side, this way you can control how much dressing is added. 

Another good option is the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. This sandwich is 350 calories and provides 33 grams of protein. It does have 35 grams of carbohydrate, so an easy way to reduce those sugars is to avoid eating the bun. When looking at the sides, the chili is worth considering especially when you’re on the go. The small chili has 240 calories, and 16 grams of protein.

Wawa

The Egg White Omelet Bowl is another good choice. If you add some roasted veggies in the bowl, the meal comes out to 110 calories, and contains 10 grams of protein. This is a great breakfast to start the day. 

If you like sandwiches, you can build your own at Wawa but be mindful of the caloric intake. Try to keep it under 400 calories. An easy way to do this is by eliminating the extra sauces on a sandwich. Creamy sauces are a quick way to increase fat and carbs along with adding calories. Also, to keep the portion at a reasonable size, go for the junior sub size.

One bariatric-friendly option is the junior chicken salad hoagie. Putting chicken salad on a whole wheat roll with a little bit of olive oil and a slice of lettuce and tomato keeps the meal at 300 calories and 14 grams of protein. The roll does contain 30 grams of carbohydrates, so I do not suggest indulging in a roll every time you go.

For a high protein snack, Greek yogurt, string cheese, beef jerky, and protein bars are great to have on the go.

Starbucks:

For Starbucks enthusiasts it is important to find a “go-to” drink that does not provide an excessive amount of calories. This can be done by choosing skim milk or almond milk along with natural flavoring options such as cinnamon. You can also add ½ or 1 pump of a sugar-free syrup for flavor. For example, an almond milk latte with a dash of cinnamon and half a pump of sugar free vanilla syrup is a great low calorie drink that can replace the other calorically dense lattes on the menu. 

In terms of food, Starbucks has Sous Vide Egg Bites in 3 tasty flavors – Kale & Mushroom, Bacon & Gruyere and Egg White & Roasted Red Pepper. These are a good lower carb option and have 12-19g of protein per serving depending on which flavor you pick.

RELATED: Starbucks Apple Crisp Macchiato

Dunkin’: 

Similar to Starbucks, sticking with skim milk or almond milk and sugar free flavorings at Dunkin’ is a healthier way to go. I would recommend ordering an iced or hot coffee with skim milk and ½ pump of sugar free hazelnut syrup.

In terms of food, the new Omelet Bites are also a perfect grab and go breakfast. The egg white and veggie flavor has 180 calories and 13 grams of protein. The bacon and cheddar flavor has 280 calories and 19 grams of protein but is higher in fat. These two options are great ways to avoid the higher calorie breakfast sandwiches and keep you on track for the day.

For more information on bariatric-friendly fast food options, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians at 908-481-1270.

Alana Weisman, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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