While fast food is definitely not something you should eat every day (even when saying fast food aim to be healthyor trick you into thinking that plant-based is nutrition), the nuggets fix now and again is definitely not the end of the world—unless the amount of sodium in the aforementioned nuggets is staggering.
Always on the cutting edge of innovation and invention, fast food restaurants are constantly launching new and exciting menu items and limited-time specials. As tempting as it sounds like fried pickles or mac & cheese, it’s important to pull the curtain back a bit (or in this case, pull back the bread and vermicelli) to see what ingredients are really hiding underneath and whether there is a loss of nutrients or not worth it.
Over the past few months, there’s been a huge influx of new fast food menus and seasonal specials, from the much-anticipated Strawberry Frosty arrive new meatless burgers. But behind the buzz is the fact that many of these newcomers… are less healthy.
To dig deeper into this novelty fast food, we consulted with a registered dietitian. Amy Goodson about new items worth ordering or avoiding — and some healthier alternatives if cravings persist.
Per capsule: 45 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium
It’s always interesting when a chain of restaurants revives old classics (ahem, Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza), which is why there is such a buzz over the long-awaited comeback of KFC’s Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets.
Returning for the first time this summer in decades, the crunchy snack is available in 8, 12 and 36 pieces, accompanied by dipping sauces. One big caveat, for now, is that they’re currently only available in one test market: Charlotte, NC. But considering how not great these low-weight sodium bombs are, that could actually be good news. for you. Sorry, Charlotte.
“While 45 calories and 3 grams of fat may not seem like a lot, when you start multiplying that by 8 and 12, it can add up pretty quickly,” says Goodson. “The No. 8 nut order contains 360 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 1,080 mg of sodium. The No. 12 nut starts inching up there with 540 calories, 36 grams of fat, and 1,620 milligrams of sodium, half of the daily allowance. And remember, this has no extras!”
To keep things healthy, Goodson emphasizes the importance of portion control. “Put the 8-piece nuggets in and pair with some more nutritious sides like corn, chickpeas or mashed potatoes. Pairing fried nuggets with fresh vegetables will help keep the sodium and fat content lower for the meal.”
Per bowl: 660-790 calories, 36 g fat, 57 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2,270 mg sodium
Apparently, KFC is feeling nostalgic this summer, because the brand has also brought back another dish that hasn’t worked since 2019. A standout accompaniment, Mac & Cheese is quickly becoming a popular side dish with its crispy popcorn chicken. And again, it’s not the best choice for a healthy diet.
Unlike the mac & cheese accompaniment at KFC, these bowls are a calorie bomb. “While a serving of mac and cheese can fit into a meal with 140 calories and 6 grams of fat, the Mac & Cheese Bowl can put you past the calories, fat, and sodium for a meal,” explains Goodson. eat,” Goodson explained. “With 790 calories, 36 grams of fat and 2,270 milligrams of sodium, this is more than most people need while sitting.”
If you still want to scratch the itch, Goodson recommends using a smaller portion are not Comes with popcorn chicken. “Instead of enjoying the whole bowl, order a portion of macaroni and cheese. Pair it with grilled chicken breast, chickpeas, and corn flakes for extra protein and fiber. This meal will have total fat, sodium, and fat. significantly less, and more calories than a full Mac and Cheese Bowl.”
Per McFlurry: 640 calories, 21 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium
America loves the McFlurry moment. Anytime McDonald’s releases a new ice cream, it turns into McFrenzy. That’s why there’s buzz about a new one, McFlurry flavors full of candy being tested in Southern California. Made with vanilla MSG and sprinkled with Hershey’s candies, it’s essentially an upgraded version of M&M McFlurry. But more candy also means less health.
“Everyone should enjoy dessert wherever they go, but at 640 calories and 21 grams of fat, Hershey’s Mix McFlurry can be a bit too much,” says Goodson. “Especially if you also ate a McDonald’s meal during this drive.”
Instead, she suggests keeping things simpler — and less candy — for something sweet. “McDonald’s Vanilla Cone has only 200 calories and 5 grams of fat. The vanilla cone has only 22 grams of added sugar compared to the 83 grams of added sugar in McFlurry. And it still gives you something sweet to cool off the heat on.” friend!”
EVERY SANDWICH: 410-450 calories
After a Drama, lawsuits and drop in revenue, Subway is in dire need of a refresh. And that’s exactly what they did with a complete menu overhaul as part of their Eat Fresh campaign. This summer, the chain removed the customization on its famous customizable menu (bold move), and instead started selling 12 loaves of bread to be ordered as is. But just because things are “refreshed” doesn’t automatically mean they become a signal of health, especially since some sandwiches are supposed to be cheese and meat bombs.
Check out a range of new sandwiches, from “The Boss” (marinated meatballs) to “The Monster” (a meaty monstrosity with steak, bacon, and Monterey cheddar), each with its own ingredients. Nutrition, fat, calories and sodium are wildly different counts. “When it comes to toppings, what you put in the middle of the bread can make or break nutritional value,” says Goodson. “While Subway offers a lot of subscribers, here are some key moves to reduce calories and fat.”
For starters, she recommends going with a 6-inch sub instead of a long-legged one. “Choose whole grain breads or wraps for more nutrients. Remember that more bread and those with cheese will have more calories. If you really want to cut calories, try wrapping.”
For meat, Goodson recommends choosing lean meats like turkey, chicken, ham, and even roast beef. “Other meats like meatballs, pasta, salami, salami and other meats are generally higher in fat, calories, and sodium.”
And when it comes to seasoning, restraint is the name of the game. “Sausages and sauces like ranch, mayo, and other creamy dressings are high in calories. To lose weight, try Subway’s new mustard or mashed avocado. If you love the creamy option, let it go. side and use less.”
Per Impossible King Sandwich: 552.2 calories, 21.7 g fat (11.2 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 34.6 mg cholesterol, 1,998.9 mg sodium, 56.6 g carbs ( 5.1 g fiber, 10.3 g sugar), 29 protein
Per Impossible Southwest Bacon Burger: 795.7 calories, 42.3 g fat (14.7 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 36.9 mg cholesterol, 1,604.3 mg sodium, 73.3 g carbs ( 7.2 g fiber, 12.2 g sugar), 37.4 g protein
Burger King debut two new plant-based breads this summer: Impossible King and Impossible Southwest Bacon Seller. But don’t be fooled by the meatless pie: just because something is meatless doesn’t make it automatically healthy.
“While it may seem like a meat substitute might be better for you, the truth is Whopper Jr and a good ol’ cheeseburger both contain less than 350 calories,” Goodson notes. “If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to meat, the Impossible King and Impossible Whopper have less fat and calories than the Impossible Southwest Bacon Burger. In addition, the Impossible Whopper adds tomatoes, vegetables, and more.” Lettuce and onions add beneficial nutrients and provide less sodium than Impossible King.”
Goodson also suggests skipping the mayonnaise to reduce total fat and calories. “Another way to cut calories is to eat less bread and wrap the bread in lettuce.”
Each serving: 800 calories, 62 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 3,200 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 7 g protein
Chicken fingers aren’t the only thing deep-fried at Zaxby’s. The Southern chain, known for its crispy chicken, crisps and signature sauce, decided there wasn’t enough fried food on its menu and didn’t just choose Take home the Limited Fried Picklesbut to turn them into a fixed menu.
Made with cornstarch dill pickle slices, deep-fried and served with buttermilk and herb ranch dressing, they’re the pinnacle of Southern comfort — and they’re pretty awful for you, too.
“If you want to try this favorite, consider sharing your plate with a larger group and be mindful of portion sizes,” says Goodson. “A few bites can satisfy your cravings without draining your calorie bank.”
Another shareable option she recommends is Zaxby’s Crinkle Fries. “A large order has 530 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 930 mg of sodium, has significantly fewer calories, fat, and sodium than pickles and is still a great snack that can be shared. This is for three people and you have a side that’s delicious but has more calories for you. And if you’re going to have fries, try pairing it with a salad with chicken. It’s another way to balance it out. your plate and enjoy your favorite dishes!”