Fast Food Guide: Healthy 'Eats" On The Run

Fast food restaurants can be challenging for those pursuing a low glycemic diet. Fortunately however, most now actually offer at least one (sometimes more) excellent choices - IF you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Below we present our fast food guide, designed to help you quickly select the best menu choices to support your low glycemic diet.

Of course, menus in popular fast-food restaurants sometimes rapidly change with the times, so you may find additional healthy options than those listed below.

For obvious reasons, pizza and donut "joints" - though common and popular - are not included in our Low GI fast food guide.


Staple foods of the traditional Mexican diet are a great choice for low glycemic dieters. In particular, pinto and black beans are one of the best carbohydrate sources available anywhere.

TacoBell logo

Best Choice: Chicken Cantina Power Bowl (specify NO RICE / ADD XTRA BEANS!)

McDonalds logo

Best Choice: When dining Fresh-Mex (i.e., Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe's, Baja Fresh, etc.) Make your meal of side orders! Combine any or all of the following options:

  • (a) beans (pinto or black)
  • (b) soft corn tortilla (optional)
  • (c) 4 oz any meat
  • (d) choice of salsa
  • (e) fresh veggies to taste

Chicken Specialists

Fried chicken generally contains surprisingly high amounts of both fat and carbs. Thus it is much smarter to choose grilled rather than fried chicken - and add healthy side dishes for nutritional balance.

kfc logo

Best Choice: Individual Meal (Grilled 1 pc breast OR 2 piece leg). Sides: choose corn on the cob OR fresh kernel corn, AND green beans.

Popeye's logo

Best Choice: Blackened Chicken Tenders, PLUS regular sides of red beans and rice AND green beans.

chick-fil-a logo

Best Choice: Grilled nuggets and fruit cup OR Medium chicken tortilla soup.

Burger Joints

Fast food restaurants that specialize in hamburgers, French fries, and shakes generally offers very limited options when it comes to low glycemic dining. With one exception (Wendy's), our picks for the best choices are limited to fresh salads .

wendy's logo

Best Choice: Rich & Meaty Chili (hold the saltines!) OR BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad with Plain Ranch Dressing and NO GLAZE.

Burger King logo

Best Choice: Chicken BLT Garden Fresh Salad. Choose Ken's Citrus Caesar Dressing (1 packet), and hold the croutons.

McDonalds logo

Best Choice: Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken. Choose Newman's Ranch Dressing, and hold the croutons.

Sub Shops

The two most common outlet chains in this category - Subway and Quizno's - offer a variety of healthy ingredients - but usually served between two giant slabs of refined carbohydrates. As with the "burger" chains then, your best option is to select from the salad offerings.

Subway logo

Best Choice: Any chicken or beef salad EXCEPT teriyaki (because of high sugar content). Hold the croutons.

Quizno logo

Best Choice: BBQ Ranch Chicken salad OR Honey Mustard Chicken salad. Hold the croutons.


This is our "catch-all" category for places that just do not fit well into our other categories.

Starbucks logo

Best Choice: Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box OR Chicken & Greens Caesar Salad Bowl. Note: These items are not always available!

Stay tuned for updates to our fast food guide as the menu and restaurant chain landscape inevitably changes!

What About Low Glycemic Breakfasts?

Finding healthy breakfast choices is often a challenge to those on the go. Some helpful suggestions may be found here.

(Updated May 31, 2017)

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