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Healthy Choices at the Top Fast Food Restaurants

I can’t tell you how many times I have left a tournament starving. As a coach, my options are a bit limited, and a lot of times I just want to get home. When hunger strikes, I am always trying to be healthy but it is so hard when you are on the road. We created this list for us but wanted to share it with all of the coaches out there who are rushing around. 

You drive by one fast-food restaurant after another and can’t figure out where to stop. Your brain tells you that you should have something healthy but let’s face it, you don’t want to get out of the car, you and your player are tired, you need something quick but want something healthy. What a dilemma….

Subway/Jersey Mikes

Why do we love them? 

They both offer a variety of customizable sandwiches and salads, allowing customers to choose their preferred ingredients, including fresh vegetables and lean proteins. Opting for whole-grain bread and minimizing high-calorie condiments can make for a healthier meal. There is also gluten-free bread that covers folks with sensitive stomachs. Jersey Mike Sandwiches are freshly made and so good! And you can order ahead of both.

What we don’t like? 

Lack of drive-through window. 

Chick-fil-A

Why do we love them?

Chick-fil-A provides healthier options such as grilled chicken sandwiches and salads. Their grilled nuggets and fruit cups are also popular choices for those looking to make healthier fast-food decisions. They also have choices for sensitive stomachs.

What we don’t like? 

I am not a huge fan of their food but let the debate begin since I am outnumbered. They are not open on Sundays. 

Chipotle

Why do we love them?

Chipotle is known for its customizable bowls, burritos, and salads. With a focus on fresh ingredients, customers can choose lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Opting for brown rice and skipping high-calorie toppings can make for a nutritious meal.

What we don’t like?

Nothing, they are the best. But if we have to pick, you have to order ahead vs just doing through the drive-through.

Panera Bread

Why do we love them?

Panera Bread offers a variety of salads, soups, and sandwiches made with fresh and, in many cases, organic ingredients. They provide nutritional information for their menu items, allowing customers to make informed choices. 

What we don’t like? 

Lack of convenience. 

Starbucks

Why do we love them?

Starbucks has expanded its menu to include healthier options such as protein boxes, salads, and yogurt parfaits. Choosing beverages wisely, such as opting for unsweetened options or lower-calorie drinks, can also contribute to a healthier fast food experience.

What we don’t like? 

Not much, they have great choices.

Saladworks and Chopt

Why do we love them?

They specialize in salads with a wide range of fresh vegetables, proteins, and dressings. Customers can create their salads or choose from a menu of signature options. Their options are awesome if you love salads. 

What we don’t like?

There is a limited menu so if you don’t like salads, move on. 

Taco Bell

Why do we love them?

Taco Bell has made efforts to include healthier choices on its menu, such as the “Fresco” menu, which replaces high-calorie toppings with pico de gallo. Opting for grilled chicken over fried options can also contribute to a healthier meal.

What we don’t like?

The food. 

McDonald’s

Why do we love them?

While traditionally associated with less healthy options, McDonald’s has introduced salads, grilled chicken options, and fruit bags to provide healthier choices. Paying attention to portion sizes and choosing items from the healthier menu can make for a more nutritious meal. They are extremely convenient and in just about every corner of America.

What we don’t like? 

Most of the healthy options are ok in taste and the fruit bag is mediocre. 

Wendy’s

Why do we love them?

Wendy’s offers a variety of salads with different protein options, including grilled chicken. Opting for smaller portion sizes, choosing water or unsweetened beverages, and avoiding high-calorie dressings can contribute to a healthier dining experience.

What we don’t like? 

Healthy options are limited and the taste is ok. 

In-N-Out Burger

Why do we love them?

In-N-Out Burger, though known for its burgers, offers a “Protein-Style” option where the burger is wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. Choosing this option and pairing it with a side of cut vegetables instead of fries can create a more balanced meal.

What we don’t like? 

Not much!

It’s important to note that while these fast-food restaurants offer healthier options, it’s still essential for individuals to be mindful of portion sizes, ingredients, and overall nutritional content when making their food choices. 

Customization plays a key role in creating a healthier fast food meal, allowing customers to tailor their orders to meet their specific dietary preferences and requirements. We love customization but also know that it isn’t as quick as the drive-through. 

iSport360 is the only app that does it all for youth sports. For more information on what we do, click here

About the author: 

Amy Masters is a sports mom, coach, and club administrator. She has been coaching youth sports for more than 10 years. She started Jr Lions Field Hockey, the youth recreation program for the Hunterdon County community growing it from 40 players in year 1 to 150 players by year 3. A few years later, she saw the love and competitiveness grow then started Omega Field Hockey Club serving NJ and PA players. Before coaching, she was a collegiate field hockey player for Lock Haven University. In her spare time (lol), she is head of marketing for iSport360, where she brings her love of sports to a bigger audience. 

Learn more or request a demo of our youth sports software that is helping teams improve communication, organization and player development.

January 11, 2024

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