Your Fast Food choices explained!
Last updated date: 13-Aug-2022
14 mins read
Nowadays, a significant portion of the population prefers to have food that is prepared and served quickly. Also, fast food has become a part of our everyday life. Everywhere we go or pass by we find fast-food restaurants, especially on the way to the airport or en route to work. So, our attitude towards food has changed, and eating fast and convenient has become a priority for most of us. Let’s look and analyze if your fast with food recent attitude is good for our health and if not if it can be improved in any way.
What exactly is fast food?
Fast food is a type of mass-produced food that is prepared and served very quickly. The movement began in the United States in the 1950s and has spread worldwide.
Fast food chains provide a limited menu, which includes main items such as hamburgers, French fries, chicken wings, sandwiches, and soft drinks. Food items are generally mass-produced and prepared in bulk in advance of customer orders.
Fast food restaurants are well known for their ability to serve food quickly. Specifically, they are known for their drive-through window; this was once a small walk-up window but after the rise of suburbia it became a much larger drive-through window that could accommodate cars and trucks with an order taker inside or outside at the side of the building (in some cases drive-through windows were used for pickup only).
The first true fast-food restaurant was Wimpy's in 1941; its founder Harry M. Stevens had to develop innovative ways to deliver hamburgers quickly without having to pay for labor to prepare them in-house before serving them to customers.
While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, it should be considered that this term typically refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-away.
The Spread of the Fast-food Industry
The traditional family meals are increasingly replaced by the consumption of takeaway, as more people work long hours and find it difficult to prepare meals from scratch. The global fast-food industry is expected to reach $284 billion in 2020 from $243 billion in 2017 at a CAGR of 4 percent over the forecast period. The market is mainly driven by growing consumer preference for healthier options, increasing disposable income and urbanization trends.
In America alone, about 200 billion dollars worth of fast food is sold every year. People love this because you can get everything you want in one place: hamburgers, fries, sodas, salads, ice cream cones, milkshakes, and so on. The fast-food industry has undoubtedly grown exponentially in the past decade, with new chains opening all over the country. Fast food restaurants are often affordable and convenient, making them an attractive option for many consumers.
McDonald's is an example of one of the world's largest chains of fast-food restaurants operating in 119 countries and territories around the world, serving around 68 million people daily. The spread of McDonald's through Europe was one of the most successful foreign ventures undertaken by an American company. The average American spends about $1,045 per year on McDonald's products. Subway is another popular chain in the U.S., and it serves over 2 billion customers each year.
How to eat healthy at your favorite fast-food restaurant?
The fast-food industry is huge, and it's not just the drive-thru window that people are turning to. More and more chains are adding breakfast to their menus. But what if you need a healthy meal that's fast? A lot of the time, when people think of "fast food," they think of greasy, unhealthy fare. With our lazy culture, though, it's getting harder to avoid fast food altogether. And yet at the same time, there are plenty of options that can provide you with the calories you need without having to resort to a greasy bacon cheeseburger.
In order to find the healthiest fast food, we considered three main things: healthy ingredients available, vegetarian options available and options for those who have specific dietary needs. The restaurants below meet or exceed these requirements—so next time you're in a hurry, you know where to go!
- Grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo at Chick-fil-A (290 calories)
- Turkey burger at Burger King (300 calories)
- Salted potato chips at Sonic (280 calories)
- Chipotle burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables and red salsa (350 calories)
- Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets (250 calories)
If those are not among your favorites and you're trying to lose weight, here are some tips for making smart choices at any drive-through.
- Check the nutrition facts before ordering. Most fast-food chains have calorie information available online. Check the McDonald's menu for example and you'll find that a small order of fries has 240 calories, a Double Cheeseburger has 390 calories, and Chocolate Chip Cookie has 440 calories. You can use this information to help you make smarter decisions about what you order when you're ordering fast food.
- Look for sandwiches on whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, which is higher in refined carbs, sugar and calories than whole wheat breads (though all breads should be eaten in moderation).
- Choose leaner cuts of meat instead of fried chicken or burgers with extra cheese or bacon bits. If you can't find grilled chicken breast or grilled fish fillets, consider ordering salads instead of sandwiches or burgers —
- As most salad dressings are high in fat, ask for oil and vinegar instead of ranch dressing if possible.
- Don't add extras like cheese or bacon
Fast food with high protein
If you're looking for a meal with more protein than carbs, try these options from the following fast-food chains:
- Burger King has two burgers that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates: the Whopper Jr. (6 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein) and the Double Whopper (18 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein). For example, at Burger King, a Double Whopper with Cheese contains four times as much fat as a Whopper Jr., but only slightly more calories.
- Subway offers a 6-inch Baked Linguini Veggie Delite sub with 513 calories and 15 grams of fat — about half of which is saturated fat.
- Taco Bell has several offerings that provide at least 10 grams of protein per serving: meaty bean burrito (8 g), double steak burrito (15 g), triple steak burrito (18 g), crunchy taco supreme (13 g) and nachos supreme (10 g).
Fast Food with Gluten-Free Options
Fast food is a convenient and economical way to eat, but it often comes with a side of gluten. If you're gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease, eating fast food can be tricky. Luckily, more and more restaurants are offering gluten-free menus. Here are some of the best options:
- Chipotle Mexican Grill offers a variety of meat and bean burritos, tacos, and salads that are all naturally gluten-free. The chain also has a list of ingredients for each dish on its website, so you can easily check whether your favorite item is safe for you to eat.
- Subway's gluten-free menu includes nine types of bread including wheat bread, wheat English muffins, and corn tortillas. The chain also offers breakfast items like egg and cheese sandwiches on gluten-free bread at participating locations nationwide.
- Taco Bell has two types of tacos that are naturally gluten-free: hard shell beef tacos and soft flour tortilla chicken tacos with cheese sauce. You should avoid other menu items because they contain flour in some form — even if it isn't listed on the ingredient label as such!
So, what is the calorie intake of an average fast-food meal?
The average fast-food meal contains anywhere from 800 to 1,200 calories per serving depending on what you order from the menu — this amount is more than enough for an entire day's worth of calories if eaten regularly throughout the week! The fast-food with the highest calories includes:
- McDonald's Big Mac meal: 1,540 calories, 53 grams saturated fat, 2,040 mg sodium (45 percent of daily value)
- Burger King Triple Whopper meal: 1,290 calories, 93 grams saturated fat (48 percent of DV), 2,490 mg sodium (51 percent of DV)
- Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Deep Dish pizza: 1,440 calories (32 percent of DV) and 1,970 mg sodium (52 percent of DV) for a medium pie; 4 slices have about 800 calories and 2,000-2,200 mg sodium each
Fast food with breakfast – a common daily choice!
What's better than a nice breakfast in the morning? Absolutely nothing. Whether you're eating at home as a family or heading out to grab some fast food on the way to work, this is a meal that should never be skipped. It's one of the most important meals of the day, and it doesn't have to be complicated to get right.
Fast food restaurants with good breakfast and the go-to breakfast options are listed below:
- McDonald's - Order an egg white delight McMuffin with whole-grain mustard—to keep things healthy, ask for no cheese, and get apple slices instead of fries.
- Dunkin' Donuts - Ask for egg whites only, no meat, and whole-wheat toast on the English muffin—then ask for your eggs cooked over easy so they'll be even healthier! Add a few berries or another fruit to round out your meal.
- Subway - Go in the middle of the night, when you can get a foot-long sub for five dollars. Order it without cheese or mayo, hold the meat and double up on veggies like lettuce and tomatoes. Get lots of avocado for extra healthy fats!
- Taco Bell - The Fresco menu has lots of great options – our choice – is beans on toast!
One of the most time-consuming aspects of getting ready for and heading to work in the morning is preparing a proper breakfast. You can't just slap a piece of toast in your mouth as you run out the door because when you've got that kind of time crunch, your brain can't focus on much other than what's going to get you to work as fast as possible. That's why fast food establishments have become so popular—they offer something that can be prepared easily, quickly, and even in their drive-thru window, which helps you get on with your day. And there are even some options that don't sacrifice health for speed—and if you're willing to think outside the box a little bit, there are even ways to make healthy choices when eating out. You don't necessarily have to compromise your diet when you eat at a fast-food restaurant, either—it just requires a little more effort than ordering off a menu as quickly as possible.
Therefore, fast food restaurants near me can be divided into two categories—those that offer breakfast all day and those that do not. This is important because it means that you have slightly different options depending on which type of restaurant you visit. At a restaurant with breakfast all day, you can order breakfast items at any time as well as lunch and dinner items. This offers you a much wider selection of foods than if you went to a traditional fast food restaurant, which typically only serves meals during its standard operating hours.
If you don't mind getting up early, visiting a fast-food restaurant near me that serves breakfast all day is an excellent idea. You can get in line before the lunch crowd arrives, ensuring that you'll be able to order very quickly once the store opens for business. Also, most people tend to go for lighter meals in the morning, so this will give you more healthy options than
Can you find vegan and vegetarian options at fast-food restaurants?
Fast food is great when it's time-consuming to make a meal, or you're craving something crispy and salty after a night out. But if you're going to be picky about the fast food you eat—whether it's because of health reasons, like being vegetarian, vegan or Paleo, or just because your doctor recommended eating more whole foods—you have to be prepared for the fact that many of your fast food options are going to disappoint.
Fast food restaurants are notoriously bad at catering to a variety of dietary restrictions. Vegan options are often limited and highly processed, like most of the snacks in the vending machines. Most fast-food chains don't offer vegetarian alternatives at all. Even if you're looking for a salad option, odds are it will come with meat unless you request otherwise.
The best way to combat this is to know your options before you go. Here is a list of the latest vegan additions to fast food menus:
- KFC began selling its Beyond Fried Chicken option in January 2022. Made from pea protein and flavored with KFC’s signature “finger-lickin' good” seasonings, it is hard to tell you are eating a plant-based option in the first place. While the ingredients are vegan, it is important to note that the chicken nuggets share equipment (like fryers) with non-vegan items.
- McDonald's recently brought its McPlant burger, made with a pea protein patty, to the United States. After a trial in England, it is currently tested here. The burger is completely vegan in the UK but contains non-vegan mayo and American cheese in the U.S. The fries are not vegan either, as they contain beef flavoring.
- Taco Bell’s new plant-based menu options are sure to please both vegetarians and vegans. The brand’s Veggie Power Menu Bowl, Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme, and Fresco-style customization options give more flavor options than ever before.
You can also download an app like Vegetarian Times' Veggie Lover's Guide that offers detailed tips on how to order at each restaurant you visit so you can avoid an accidental side of chicken tenders in your veggie wrap.
How bad is fast food for your health?
Fast food is often high in fat and sodium. A typical fast food meal provides more fat than the average person should eat in one day, and there are far more calories in a single fast-food meal than should be consumed in an entire day by anyone trying to lose weight or control his or her weight. Fast food meals are also often very high in sodium. This can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Fast foods are filled with preservatives, dyes, and artificial ingredients that we simply don’t need to be
Therefore, people who eat fast food most days of the week have an increased risk of getting diabetes type 2, heart disease, stroke , cancer , high blood pressure (hypertension), fertility problems, depression , weight gain , stomach pain (gastric reflux) and also lead to obesity .
The main problem with fast food is portion size. Large servings of fried chicken, french fries, or onion rings can quickly add up to an excess of calories that could otherwise be saved for more nutritious meals. When a restaurant is trying to keep costs down by serving cheap food quickly, it makes sense that you'd get more for your money—but it also usually means you'll get more calories than you realize or need because you don't pay attention to how much you're eating and it's
Fast food has been generally associated with a number of negative health effects, including obesity and cardiovascular risk. Research on childhood obesity has shown that fast food intake is a significant contributing factor. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the United States and nine million U.S. children are now at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Fast food is highly processed, which can lead to high levels of saturated fat and sodium in foods. Highly processed foods are without doubt high in calories but low in nutrition. Also, research shows that meals higher in calories are more likely to be consumed outside of the home, thus increasing the likelihood that these dietary habits will continue into adulthood. High levels of saturated fat have been linked to cardiovascular disease risk as well as cancer risk.
Is it cheaper to eat fast food?
The popularity of fast-food restaurants is undeniable. With the ability to fulfill a wide range of tastes, textures, and portions, as well as being open around the clock, fast food restaurants provide an incredibly convenient and affordable source of food. But are their prices too good to be true? Here are a few different reasons for which fast food is sometimes the way to go:
- It is often cheaper than dining at a sit-down restaurant. For example, McDonald's has a dollar menu that allows you to choose between different meals for only $1.
- It can be eaten very quickly. Most fast-food restaurants have a drive-thru so that you can order your food and eat it on your way home from work or while running errands. The third reason is that there are so many different varieties of meals available. You can get breakfast at lunch time, or you can get burgers or chicken for dinner. Fast food even comes with breakfast all day!
- Fast foods are also a great option for those who don't know how to cook. If you lack certain skills in the kitchen, preparing a complicated dish from scratch might be an intimidating task because you're concerned about screwing it up somehow.
The term "fast food" seems to be inextricably linked with "junk food", but if this is what you are looking for, there are chains that specialize in that sort of fare. On the other hand, if you want healthful options, don't forget about places such as Subway and Panera Bread, which serve salads and sandwiches as well as standard fast-food fare.
Fast food restaurants offer an array of choices for patrons who are watching their weight or who have specific dietary restrictions. In addition to the standard hamburgers and french fries, many chains offer salads, wraps, and grilled foods that people concerned about their weight or heart disease can enjoy without feeling like they're missing out. They also offer vegetarian selections that are especially welcome for those who are vegetarian or vegan. Fast food restaurants have started to repeatedly note on their menus that they offer "healthy choices".