What to order at fast food restaurants if you're trying to be healthy

You can still have a cheeky Nando's and reach your fitness goals 

Rachel Hosie
Thursday 14 September 2017 11:51 BST

Are you ever suspicious when you see personal trainers strolling into a fast food restaurant or fitness influencers posting selfies from unhealthy eateries?

How can they eat there and still be so healthy?

It turns out, there are ways.

So if you’re trying to get in shape and eat to fuel your fitness, you don’t actually have to miss out when the lads suggest a cheeky Nando’s or the squad all want to go and get their nugget on at McDonald’s.

Personal trainer Dan Rayner has worked with MuscleFood.com to explain what he chooses at some of the most popular fast food restaurants on the British high street.

By making smart choices, you can enjoy a meal out with your friends without messing up your macros.

“First glance at a fast food menu and you expect them to be packed with calories, full of fat and a big no if you’re watching what you eat,” Rayner says.

“Look a little closer and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. My recommendations include meals with high protein contents, which are perfect for those who count their macros.

“Of course, there are healthier options out there, but sometimes you do need to grab and eat on the go and if you’re in a rush, a fast food outlet is the obvious choice.

“I wouldn’t recommend it every day, but once in a while and making some wise food choices will do you no harm.”

So now all you have to decide is Gregg’s, McDonald’s, Nando’s or Subway?

Here are Rayner's recommendations:


Egg roll


There is around 17 grams of protein in an egg roll so it makes a good start to the day. If you opt for this over porridge which is another great choice, try and lower your calorie intake slightly for your next meal.

Tuna crunch baguette


Tuna is high in protein so a good option and if you want to save a few carbs and calories, take half of the bread away.

If you’re going after a workout, I’d recommend having the whole baguette, as your body will use the extra carbs for the recovery process. A pot of fruit for some natural sugars post workout would be good too.


Butterfly chicken with sweet potato mash and chargrilled veg

The butterfly chicken is packed with a whopping 57 grams of protein, virtually no carbs and a small amount of fat. The sweet potato mash is a good source of carbs, potassium and minerals. This is also the lowest in calories out of all the carb sides on the menu.

To add micronutrients and fill up your plate, order the chargrilled veg. It’s only 98 calories and provides additional fibre.

Classic chicken pitta with a side salad

If you want to save on calories but also want to enjoy your meal, this is a great option. It’s just under 400 calories and gives you around 40 grams of protein.


Oats, egg and cheese McMuffin and a bag of fruit

McDonald’s oats are a decent choice from the breakfast menu, with 194 calories and packed with 10 grams of protein.

For a higher protein breakfast, order an egg and cheese McMuffin. To make it healthier, ask for no cheese, and take away one slice of the muffin.

By making these small changes, you have reduced your entire meal by around 100 calories, as well as getting in around 14 grams of protein. For some natural sugars, add a melon fruit bag.

Chicken and bacon salad

A very healthy option with just 184 calories and 24 grams of protein.

McChicken sandwich or a Filet-o-fish burger

A McChicken sandwich has 388 calories and 17 grams of protein, it’s a leaner meat choice and one of the lowest calorie options out of all the burgers with a good amount of protein.

If you like fish, a Filet-o-Fish burger comes in at 329 calories and 15 grams of protein.


Sandwich – 9 grain wheat bread with a chicken filling


The 9-grain wheat 6-inch is the bread to opt for. It’s low in calories and the nutritional value is good. Chicken is the lowest and leanest filling, although steak and turkey would also be sensible choices.

Make sure you ask for just one slice of cheese and stick to lettuce, cucumber, onions and peppers for salad. Instead of four lines of sauce, go for two and save some calories.

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