How to make healthier choices when eating out, Part 1: Fast Food, eg. Subway & McDonalds

Author: Michael Fouts

This blog is part 1 in a series of posts I’m going to make regarding eating out.

Alright, so you can’t avoid eating out, whether that’s business meals, family socials, etc.  I get that.  Personally, I eat out more than I’d like to admit.  I’m a busy guy, what can I say, preparing meals takes time; I almost always eat breakfast at home but lunch and supper tend to be hard to get a home cooked/prepared meal.  So what can you do and how can you make some better choices when eating out?  Check out some of the suggestions below. *Disclaimer – I will always recommend home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients over any of the suggestions below, these are simply alternative choices.

Some tips for eating at fast food restaurants

I’m going to use two examples for fast food that will help highlight some key tips: Subway & McDonalds.

I had a “bad” day this week – I went to McDonalds twice.  I Initially went there because I’m currently in the midst of moving all of my stuff from my Condo In Edmonton, to a new Duplex rental In Sherwood Park.  As such, I’m sparse on groceries and I wanted some eggs, and quick; I wasn’t in the mood for cold hardboiled ones either.  I went there a second time because my Grandpa insisted, and I’m not going to argue with my Grandpa – respect your elders.  So what did I eat?

First Visit: Small coffee (one cream, one milk), Two Egg McMuffins (Ham, asked for no butter, and removed the top bun on both, kept the cheese, but you can also ask for no cheese).

Second Time: Water & Ice, Italian McTaster (weird name, but it was delicious for 380 calories).  The McTaster is a smaller portion size than your typical burger, so keep that in mind because many people might opt for 2.

Another fast food place that I often visit, which has many healthy choices available: Subway.  Don’t be fooled though, just because it’s subway doesn’t mean everything you eat there is healthy.  Eating a 12-inch chicken bacon ranch, with extra ranch sauce, 2 cookies, and a large coke is not “healthy.”

I rarely, if ever, order a 12-inch sub with the intention to finish it in one sitting; I will save a 6-inch for later.  Instead, I usually have a 6-inch loaded with veggies and soup.  If I’m hungry I’ll get double meat.  Sometimes I even order the apple slices; no they aren’t just for kids.

Takeaway tips:

1) Be conscious of your portion sizes and the amount of carbs you are eating in the form of bread.  Opt for an open-faced sandwich if you can (like I did with the Egg McMuffin); this might get a little messy with the sub but keep in mind that in terms of portion size and amount of calories from bread, that 12 inches of bread is 420 calories!

2)  Opt for chicken and ham over bacon, sausage, or salami’s.

3)  Easy on the sauce, and when available opt for no butter.  You can also opt for no cheese, but I like cheese too much to not have cheese.

4)  Have sugarless drink alternatives: water > diet pop > pop.

So these two examples should show you that just because Subway is often seen as “healthy” in the eyes of the consumer, or at least has a more health-conscious image, it doesn’t necessarily make it a healthier option;  It is the options and choices you make when buying subway that will determine that.  Further, eating at McDonalds doesn’t always have to be “unhealthy,” there are food choices there that you can make that will still allow you to be health conscious.  One thing to be noted, that I alluded to in the beginning, I still recommend home-made versus these fast food choices.  Typically anything that is quick and easy, or as my Nutrition Prof use to say: “If you are reaching through your window to get it” is typically higher in sugar and salt.  This is because these are natural preservatives (prevent spoilage by bacteria) and will be higher in “convenient” food, than in your grocery store bought comparison – for the most part.

Till next time,

– Mike




Michael Fouts

Mike owns a mobile and online weight loss Personal Training Company, OverHaul Fitness, and has helped many clients successfully lose weight and keep it off. In his spare time you can find him eating sandwiches, watching thought provoking movies or tv series (like Westworld), or doing something active like squash, hockey, or training for triathlons. Get Connected with Mike:; Twitter: @Foutyfacts; Instagram: @Foutyfacts

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