It is not hard to make fat loss work at fast casual restaurants. Sure, it might not come naturally and it might represent out-of-the-box thinking for you at first, but there’s absolutely a way to enjoy your meal and have it be fat loss friendly at your fave fast casual restaurants.
What I thought I’d do in this post is share fat loss friendly choices I’ve recently made at 10 different fast casual restaurants. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to eat at home. I love to pull together simple, flavorful meals with high-quality groceries. But, sometimes I don’t feel like cooking and sometimes I’m on the road. When I first started losing weight the idea of eating out seemed like a prescription for failure. I felt like the day was shot if it required eating out. I’d have to strive for perfection another day. These days, I know I will make the best choice I can. So, you ready for this?
Quick disclaimer: these are just my choices. This doesn’t imply that it’s the only fat loss friendly choice. It’s just my choice. Honestly, you don’t have to make these choices. Make the choice that represents an improvement FOR YOU. For example, if you usually get rice and beans at chipotle, make a gradual improvement by choosing one or the other. Or, if you normally would get a sub at Penn Station or Subway, take off the top half of the bread and eat the sandwich with only the bottom half of the bread. Either way, make a choice that represents a gradual improvement for YOU.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
I think Chipotle is a really easy one. My goal when putting together a meal is to focus on veggies, protein and healthy fats and have the carbs be an accessory to the meal. Chipotle is allll about meat and veggies. Typically, what I’ll order here is a salad. I’ll skip the rice and beans, add chicken or steak (no need for double protein on most days) and then top it with fajita veggies, pico and guacamole.
Honestly though, there are so many ways to make an improvement. You don’t have to do a salad. You can do a burrito if that’s you’re style. But if you normally get both rice and beans in your burrito, opt for one or the other. Or if you aren’t a green veggies fan, just do a burrito bowl and skip the tortilla!
Do you have a Zoe’s Kitchen near you? Oh my goodness. So many amazing choices. One of my faves is the Protein Power Plate. It’s cabbage with feta cheese, grilled chicken and carmelized onions. Divine. I also love the steak kabobs over a veggie medley. The veggies normally come with potatoes but I opt for double veggies. Veggies are carbs, afterall.
Salsarita’s Mexican Cantina
Same strategy applies at Salsarita’s as Chipotle. Focus on the meat and veggies. Dial down the carbs. Maybe you do beans without the rice. Or a tortilla but no rice/beans. Or maybe you eat half of that jumbo burrito you normally get. Or you start to skip the chips. So many ways to make an improvement! Maybe you’re typically adding guacamole, sour cream and cheese. How about going for 2 out of 3 next time? Pick the two you love the most.
My Salsarita’s order is almost exactly the same as Chipotle except it’s not a salad. I’ll do a burrito bowl with just chicken, pico, veggies and guacamole.
People tend to freak out about sandwich places and really feel like there aren’t good options. Not true! Jimmy John’s makes a killer unwich! Basically, they’ll wrap any sandwich is crisp lettuce leaves. In this case, I ordered the California Club with bacon, hold the mayo. So we’ve got turkey, avocado, bacon, tomato and cucumber. It’s amazing!
I gotta say, I like Which Wich’s lettuce wraps more than I like Jimmy Johns, though they certainly aren’t freaky fast. More like painfully slow and a wee bit more expensive. Worth the wait, though! You basically create your own sandwich and can opt to have it as a lettuce wrap. Even if you aren’t a lettuce wrap fan, you can always eat your sandwich with a fork and knife and have only 1/2 the bread. I doubt you’ll enjoy it any less! My standard Which Wich order is turkey, cheddar, basil pesto, bacon and tomato. Ah-may-zing!
Another sandwich shop that freaks people out! Here’s the thing though: they will make any sandwich into a salad or a bowl. A salad version would be served on top of lettuce (as seen below – that’s the Philly Cheese Steak) or just in a bowl without the lettuce bed. No excuses!!!!
I think there are a lot of options you can make at Chick-fil-A. First, they have grilled chicken nuggets! Perfect! Or, a grilled chicken sandwich is always better than a fried one! Plus, you can leave the bun on the side if you’d like! They also have a few good salads. This is their grilled chicken salad but they also have a great Cobb salad, you just have to request your chicken grilled and not fried.
Burger places are so easy! Just hold the bun! When I go to Burger Spot (or any burger place), I’ll choose the most delicious sounding burger and just leave the bun on the side or ask that they not include the bun. Sometimes I’ll choose sweet potato fries, othertimes I’ll pass and just really savor my burger. If you feel like that won’t fill you up, add a side salad.
This is one I HIGHLY recommend! First of all, they have a huge salad bar so you could create a customized, amazing salad on the cheap. But if you aren’t in the mood for their salad bar, they have a few amazing salad creations. On top is their quinoa, mango, avocado, shrimp salad and below that is their chicken, bacon, cheddar salad. Both are freakin’ amazing. No bland salads here! They’re totally delicious and very filling!
This is last on the list because without even getting into a convo about food quality, I think their food tastes like garbage. Just my opinion. My #1 food rule is “eat foods you love” and McDonald’s would never make my list. But, my tastes clearly don’t represent that of the Standard American Diet. I will say – you can do better. Try out the above 9 before defaulting to McDs. With that said: you can always get a burger and scrap the bun. They have a handful of salads with grilled chicken. If you need to eat something while you’re driving (which I don’t recommend primarily bc you can’t enjoy your food that way), opt for one of their grilled chicken wraps – but be warned – they aren’t that great. Honestly though, I don’t think any of their food is. Just my $0.02.
Here’s a challenge for you: If you feel like you don’t know how to make a good choice at a particular restaurant, email me the link to their menu and I’ll weigh in with the most fat loss friendly options. Ultimately, we do the best we can. Will every choice be perfect? No. Will every choice be the best one possible? Nah, probably not. But it’s important to understand that you can reach your fat loss goals and dine out, travel or be on the go. You get what you look for, afterall!