It would be nice to have a healthy, sit-down meal loaded with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein 3 times a day.
It would also be unrealistic.
Sometimes the drive-thru happens.
However, if you play your cards right, there are ways to avoid dropping a 1,200 calorie bomb on your attempts to maintain your weight. And I’m only going to mention things that leave me satisfied enough to avoid raiding the vending machine at 2:30.
General rule: Stay away from fatty sauces (regular salad dressings, and anything cheese- or mayo-based). Also, there’s only so much you can do if you order something with a shitton of rice or fried potatoes.
It might surprise you to know that a regular taco contains only 170 calories. Three of these makes a reasonably-sized meal. You can even shave 20 calories apiece by ordering “Fresco style”, which replaces the cheese with pico de gallo. I don’t do this, but you can. Also good choices: the new cantina tacos, which have the traditional corn tortilla/meat/onion/cilantro/lime construction. They’re not bad, especially for drive-thru food. Steak (the tastiest of the three) = 160 calories, Chicken = 170, Carnitas = 200 calories.
There are plenty of good choices here, and they make it easy by displaying the “Wok Smart” logo next to any entrée with 250 calories or less. Get a two-entrée plate, avoid Orange Chicken and Beijing Beef, and you’re set…as long as you choose the mixed vegetables as your side. Here's why: Chow mein noodles (400 calories), steamed rice (420), fried rice (570!)…and vegetables (35).
Lots of low-cal choices, but that doesn’t matter when I am famished two hours later. Plus, it’s just not tasty. I rarely eat at Subway. If you must, do one of the lean 6-inch subs (they're marked as such) with double meat.
They finally published their nutritional info after refusing to do so for many years. It’s probably because a standard burrito there with cheese and sour cream weighs in at 970 calories. Even now, they have a very defensive disclaimer on their info insisting that their calories are far better for you.
To the numbers: the tortilla itself has 290 calories. With that in mind, order a Burrito Bol, or better yet, a salad (if you do the latter, use salsa instead of the 260-calorie dressing).
A Bol with rice, beans, meat, salsa, and cheese will come in under 600 calories. Sub fajita vegetables for beans and it’s under 500. A salad (again, use salsa for the dressing) removes the rice and about 100 calories.
Note: All the meats have roughly the same calories; if you feel like steak or pork, they’re no worse than the chicken.
It’s tough to stay under 600 calories and still get enough to eat here. A McDouble is 390 calories. A six piece McNuggets with one small sauce is 330. Get one of those with a small fry (230), I guess. When I have to resort to this I’m usually hungry again sooner than I’d like. I guess you could do a fruit and yogurt parfait (160) instead of the fries. I mean, if you're into that.
The grilled chicken salads are a reasonable option at 220-320 calories before adding dressing. The balsamic (80 calories/packet) and Italian (120) are the best dressing choices. I just don’t care for the salads I’ve had there.
This is kinda fun. I’ll do a few more when time permits.