Traveling has many perks, but weight loss is usually not one of them. Whether you just can’t find a healthy choice when it’s mealtime, or you’re faced with the high-fat options at the nearest airport Starbucks or Burger King – you probably eat more food and pick less healthy choices while on the road.
So we present you with the Roundstay guide for healthy picks at the airport counters of your favorite restaurant. Of course it is important to recognize that when it comes to some restaurants, it isn’t so much about “healthy options”, but rather about “what is the least worst?” This is an important distinction to make. And we could make a strong case about animal health as well (at least no animals were killed writing this article). But hey, we understand that fast food choices are sometimes a traveler’s best friend… Help us out with your ideas on picking the right food options at the bottom of this story.
Starbucks is now the third-largest quick-service restaurant chain in the United States and maybe even in the world. An airport is not complete without the placidly smiling mermaid serving coffee and more. Starbucks has several menu items that are low in saturated fat, high in fiber and protein, and packed with whole grains. But you’ll want to walk past the bakery section. The bakery items are fine as a once-in-a-while treats but you should not be calorie counting when eating that next muffin.
The Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Creme sounds amazing, and it tastes amazing too. But whatever your chocolate DNA tells you, those 360 calories for a tall Frappuccino means you’ll be doing an extra 30-minute cardio session just to burn it off. Is that really worth it?
Hooray for the Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal
! The plain oatmeal has 160 calories in it but it comes with packets of add-ins: brown sugar (50 calories), dried fruit (100 calories), and a nut medley (100 calories). If you use all three, your oatmeal will clock in at 410 calories so pick and choose. Or pick the Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box (1 box: 270 calories)
Coming in neck and neck with McDonald’s for being the biggest global hamburger fast food restaurant is Burger King. While this fast food chain may be known for it’s calorie-laden burgers and fries – hello Whopper with cheese and hello 730 calories – but even at Burger King there are some healthier items on the menu.
Do not be fooled by the chicken. The combination with the word Crisp makes all the health claims disappear. “Crisp” is a sure red flag for high-fat, fried food. And the Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich is a classic example of fried chicken on a bun slathered with creamy, high-fat dressing. It tops out at 700 calories,
Better change the word Crisp into Tender (you knew this!). The TenderGrill Chicken Sandwich on a Ciabatta bun is a juicy, grilled chicken filet topped with lettuce and tomato. Dressed with mayo, it has only 410 calories and when you skip the mayo you can even go down to a mere 320 calorie sandwich. Pickles, onions, and mustard add kick without too many extra calories.
Just saying the word Chipotle
is enough to make many people salivate. Chipotle has over 1,000 locations across the US, and claims that 100% of their pork and chicken and 50% of their beef is raised humanely, without the use of antibiotics or hormones. That is an impressive statement. But how about serving us some low calorie food? The biggest problem with Chipotle is the portion sizes. A chicken burrito with beans, rice, cheese, corn salsa, and sour cream can hit 1,030 calories! Add a side of chips (560 calories) and you’ve eaten nearly a day’s calories. If possible, get tons of fajita veggies, lettuce, and flavorful salsas, and skip double scoops of meat or all the filler rice and beans.
Skip the bread! The Carnitas Burrito with cilantro-lime rice, sour cream, roasted chili corn salsa, and cheese offers you over 900 calories on an attractive looking plate. On the surface it’s not that bad, but the popular little Mexcican pieces of meats clocks in at 910 calories, and almost a full day’s worth of sodium.
Pick a bowl. The Vegetarian Burrito Bowl
with fajita veggies, double black beans, guacamole, romaine lettuce, tomatillo green-chili salsa and without the rice
gets you plenty of protein (ask for double beans for protein.) and plenty of fiber for only 415 calories. The guacamole is a healthy fat that keeps your taste buds happy because it’s creamy.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Whether you call it KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken, the restaurant that made founder Colonel Sanders a household name, is one of the world’s biggest and most successful fast food chains. And on top of that, the Colonel actually has more healthy options than many fast food restaurants.
Remember the word Crisp as a sure red flag for high-fat, fried food? A chicken breast may seem like a healthy fast food choice but not if you’re digging into a KFC Extra Crispy Chicken breast, says HealthGuide.org. At 440 calories this single piece of fried chicken supplies a major portion of your calories for the day.
The Kentucky Grilled Chicken has more proteins than calories. So try choosing that over the fried chicken. KFC’s grilled chicken (220 calories) is actually some of the most reasonable fast food out there. The Kentucky Grilled Chicken is marinated and seasoned with a blend of six secret herbs and spices and is slow-grilled. Compared to Original Recipe or the Extra Crispy, the grilled chicken options have all the protein without the added carbs and sodium. Say no to the extra crispy and fried chicken strips whenever possible.
Subway has done a very good job pitching itself as a much healthier alternative to burger-based fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King. Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh’ motto helped it grow to an international restaurant success! But not all of Subway’s options are that healthy. At the end of the day, it’s still a fast-food chain. Subway is not without its pitfalls. Although they have plenty of healthful options, they also have quite a few calorie-bombs that’ll set you back half a day’s calories (and an entire day’s worth of fat & sodium). So as with all other restaurants, you have to be careful what choices to make.
Whatever you do, stay away from the Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt with Southwest Sauce. This newly launched sandwich features a base of shredded chicken with enchilada sauce, Monterey cheddar cheese, chipotle southwest sauce, and Fritos corn chips, plus the standard choice of veggies, condiments, and bread. It’s not surprising that with around 680 calories in one sandwich, this Frito-topped sub is one of the highest calorie items on the menu. It’s also high in fat and sodium and other stuff. For a full list of all 170 ingredients, check this list
Be smart and pick the 6” Sandwiche Veggie Delite®. It’s delicious, with lots of great texture, crunch, and a bit of heat. It’s a great sandwich and only 290 calories. The sandwich is full of delicious ingredients like Swiss cheese, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onion, bell peppers, black olives, jalapeño slices, avocado, vinegar, and fresh cilantro (if you like that!). If you’re a meat lover, the oven-roasted chicken still lets you pack on all the fiber-rich veggies you want. In addition, Subway offers an array of baked chips, but healthier sides include apple slices, raisins and yogurt. Their soups make low-cal sides, too.