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A new generation of fast casual restaurants works to create the perfect balance of healthy, flavorful, and accessible. Here, our ten favorites. Our choice for healthy, fast dining.

10 Healthy Fast Casual Restaurants to Try Any Time of Day. Whether you’re filling up mid-road trip or taking a quick break to pick up lunch, fast-casual restaurants are a convenient alternative to fast food and packed lunches. While many restaurants are making an effort to provide health-conscious options, smart choices remain tricky with high-sodium soups, high-fat dressings and high-calorie. From the west coast to the east coast, here are 12 healthy, well-known fast-casual destinations in the states. Read on to discover the top 5 healthiest fast food restaurants and the best menu choices at each one.

1. McDonalds. Yes, the Golden Arches make this list of healthiest fast food restaurants. There are several reasons for this.

In 2011 McDonalds made a pledge to “champion children’s well-being,” “expand and improve nutritionally-balanced. So we teamed up with registered dietitian Rebecca Lewis, who works in-house at HelloFresh, to bring you the lightest, healthiest items at 10 of our favorite guilty pleasure fast-food joints — all for less than $5. You’ll notice that some of our really, really favorite fast-casual restaurants (think: burritos) don’t show up on this list. The fast-casual sibling of P.F. Chang’s hit its 200th unit late last year, and the growth hasn’t slowed.

Notably, it opened its first unit on a college campus last year. And as it expands, Pei Wei is embracing a new, lighter look that was rolled out in 2015—with all existing restaurants expected to be remodeled over the next few years. When it comes to restaurants, fast casual has been the growth darling of the industry for almost 20 years.

While it still accounts for less than 10% of the total market, the number and diversity of fast casual restaurants has been exploding across the country, with an astounding growth of over 500% since 1999!The newly frugal spent more of their dining dollars at fast-casual restaurants and chains offering fresh food for just a bit more than quickserve prices, and fast casual has been the fastest. A 2016 study in the Journal of the Acad­emy of Nutrition and Dietetics compared 3,200 full-size entrees from 34 fast-food and 28 fast-casual restaurants in the U.S. Calories ranged from just over 300 to 1,035, with fast-casual entrees averaging 200 more than fast food (760 versus 560). The study did not assess the nutritional quality of the meals.

The fast casual opened 10 restaurants in 2017 and expanded to two new markets, bringing its total unit count to 33 restaurants in six states and Washington, D.C. Roti, which was founded in 2007, expects to keep that pace humming in 2018, with even more markets on the horizon.

List of related literature:

Restaurant Recommendations FastFoodburger chains (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King) • Garden side salads with reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressing.

“The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days!” by Connie Guttersen
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✓ Fast casual: Found everywhere nowadays, these are homogenized versions of fast food and casual dining.

“Acid Alkaline Diet For Dummies” by Julie Wilkinson
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Japanese restaurants appear to be full of healthful options, and they are—but it’s also easy to overdo it.

“The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss” by Rania Batayneh, Eve Adamson
from The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss
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Some of the chains in trouble are at the low end (e.g., Arby’s, Krispy Kreme), but most are midrange, casual dining chains such as Applebee’s and Outback Steakhouse (themed as an old-time Australian restaurant).

“Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Continuity and Change in the Cathedrals of Consumption” by George Ritzer
from Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Continuity and Change in the Cathedrals of Consumption
by George Ritzer
SAGE Publications, 2010

Japan’s Wendy’s burger restaurants can be described as “fast casual” rather than just fast food places.

“Global Marketing Management” by Masaaki (Mike) Kotabe, Kristiaan Helsen
from Global Marketing Management
by Masaaki (Mike) Kotabe, Kristiaan Helsen
Wiley, 2020

• Fast Casual: Limited­service restaurant with a fairly limited menu.

“Essentials of Services Marketing” by Jochen Wirtz
from Essentials of Services Marketing
by Jochen Wirtz
Pearson Education, 2012

Japanese restaurants serve delicious miso soup, salads, and vegetable sushi.

“Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs” by Neal D. Barnard, Bryanna Clark Grogan
from Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs
by Neal D. Barnard, Bryanna Clark Grogan
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With quick-service and fast-casual competitors offering more premium menu items, a weakening consumer environment from lower-income customers, and the popularity of upscale-casual steakhouses, many casual-dining operators are suffering.

“Hospitality Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases” by Cathy A. Enz
from Hospitality Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases
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Many of these users have also reviewed restaurants, so we write the following query to find out which ones they like best:

“Graph Algorithms: Practical Examples in Apache Spark and Neo4j” by Mark Needham, Amy E. Hodler
from Graph Algorithms: Practical Examples in Apache Spark and Neo4j
by Mark Needham, Amy E. Hodler
O’Reilly Media, 2019

This fast-casual restaurant is best known for home-style comfort food (rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes) and was primarily viewed as a lunch place.

“Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger
from Contagious: Why Things Catch On
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Simon & Schuster, 2016

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

[email protected]

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80 comments

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  • How does that wendy’s salad have 40g of sugar without dressing? Did I just misread that? That is a little over 3 tbsp of sugar… on a salad…:(

  • immediately hit the dislike button as soon as number 10 was shown cause that shit is not healthy those things are drenched in butter

  • My daily Subway Salad:
    . 2 scoops of Regular grilled chicken strips (heated)
    . 3 egg whites (heated)
    . A lot of Spinach
    . light lettuce
    . Red Onions
    . Tomatoes
    . Cucumbers
    . Bell peppers
    . Banana peppers
    . Black olives
    . Pickles
    . Sweet onion
    . Honey mustard
    . Red vinegar
    All chopped up together with 2 scoops of guacamole on top.

  • Healthy fast food options, eh? ��
    Sounds like it’s gonna be an interesting video!

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  • Hey bullyjuice I cant seem to get bigger I’ve hovered around 76 to 80kg for the past 10 years, I’m very ripped, just cant gain size..

  • If food tastes great in season and different parts of the world have different seasons what’s is the problem with having a fruit sourced year round?

  • Calories really don’t matter all that much it’s really the carbs you should watch out for because that’s where all the unhealthy fats come from

  • Hey bullyjuice or anyone that wants to help me out. I just wanted to know from anyone’s perspective what do you think is better? Running on a treadmill or outdoors? And which one do you think brings the best of not fastest results

  • In the McDonald’s i work in Northern Ireland we do a grilled chicken wrap of your choice and it’s really good and low in calories and very filling even without the fries

  • I like to go to panda express because you can get double teriyaki chicken and veggies. you get about 74 grams of protein for around 600 calories.

  • Thanks so much bro this video is very helpful I don’t make my own food too much so this will help until I get into a habit of doing so!

  • The Veggie Burger sold by Hungry Jacks (The Australian Brand name for Burger King) is really unhealthy and has more fat, sodium..etc than a meat whopper awful

  • There are these Cinnamon Roll pancakes at The Cheesecake Factory you should try. I heard something that it’s like the worst possible thing you can eat at a restaurant because of all the sugar. I have not tried it, but you should

  • Do a video on meal prep for the average person that might be at work from 8 am to 5 PM. Something that is easy and quick to make and filling

  • Instead of me having subway, I got my a firehouse subs with the Firehouse Hero large (2x) 2420 calories, with 136 grams of protein, 114 grams of fat, and 212 grams of carbs. (Served with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and many other veggies). That’s like my pre/post-workout food, love your videos man keep up the good work bro. #God1stGodBless

  • Great fast food options! Good alternatives for when you can’t get in the kitchen. Gonna have to check arby’s out, also almost at 500k! NICE!

  • this is perfect. my house burned down last week and I’m staying in a hotel for a couple weeks with no kitchen so I gotta order out but I dont want to eat shit food

  • I was like what’s Alec ordering ���� can’t believe how low calorie these breakfasts were �� I think my morning porridge is defo in the 300-350 cals range x

  • The girl on the left is so offensive & judgy about E V E R Y T H I N G. If someone wants to hv greek yogurt or grilled nuggets, let them. you are not the barometer that decides whats acceptable or not. Let Joslyn live her best life, god!

  • Absolutely a lie. Look up all these foods online folks. The calories, fat, sodium and sugar is through the roof. Just because you compare a bad food to a truly nasty food doesn’t make it healthy. Beware!

  • I blame.super size me….fucking ruined fast food. No one is kidding themselves, no one is going to a fast food joint to eat healthy….that’s like someone eating fat free ice cream….like who you kidding? Either make the choice to eat what u want and be happy or actually go all the way and eat healthy. I liked the fucking super size me sizes….I didn’t need some asshole making shit worst for ppl who want to just fucking eat high calories cheat meals.

  • or just… make something yourself at home. if you really can’t then go to a place that actually makes food with fresh and non processed ingredients

  • I can’t make myself eat lettuce I can only but I can eat spinnich, cucumber and tomato. Do you have any tips for what I should eat? also your workouts are helping me out ALOT.

  • Starbucks is the epitome of US monopolytake a simple cheap product.. and shill it around.. brits are addicted to coffee but no so addicted to the ‘brand names’

  • Great job young man I’ve been watching you for a little while I like your presentation and you make it fun this particular episode eating while on the go really hit home I’m always really hungry after the gym so I go grocery shopping but sometimes it do stop at McDonald’s to get their grilled chicken wrap 3 of them they are good and filling but I didn’t notice a couple of other places you went to that I will try great job keep up the good work health is wealth

  • If your hungry for a taco or burrito at Taco Bell, you can ask for nearly any of these with refried beans instead of ground beef. Great source of protein, and a great tip for vegans and vegetarians!

  • Jesus Christ, do you guys NEED to use each fork that comes with each food? just use the previous on, so much plastic waste for no reason…

  • Stupid������������������������really stupid ��������������������������������‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂��‍♂WTF ������������������☠��������������������������������‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍⚕��‍⚕��‍⚕��‍⚕��‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍����‍♂��sorry but u guys are really ����������������������������������������������⏰

  • Come on Steve. How you gon sit there and crush all that goodness and not go an get a vegan option for Mr. Baker???? He looked so sad:(

  • If I’m trying to be healthy while travelling, I almost always go to Wendy’s. I get the broccoli and cheese baked potato, but ask for no cheese and for a packet of chives. Most Wendy’s have hummus and a quinoa/chickpea condiment to top it with. If you’re out of luck, then top it with black pepper and mustard (sounds gross but it’s actually really good). I usually combine that with the side salad and the pomegranate vinaigrette. It’s more than enough food to fill you up, and it costs less than $5. Some Wendy’s have a strawberries and blueberries cup that’s good if you have a fruit craving. Before I was vegetarian I also used to like their chili.

  • Thank u so much 4 this vid,
    I have this problem & have been trying so hard but wen u gotta move quickly its tuff.
    Thanks again & keep up da gud work..
    #TBETICAL

  • Stop demonizing fat! Look at the science, because fats aren’t inherently bad for you. Carbs are inherently bad for you. Protein isn’t inherently bad for you. You can literally live an unhealthy lifestyle with all of the macro nutrients, but I’ll say that if something is high in fat doesn’t mean it’s bad for you solely from that.

  • Ms.mojo: The bean taco is a choice you’ll never regret in two or three hours

    Me: wait a minute how did you know I planned to go to Taco Bell

  • 240 calories in an impossible whopper? How can this be?

    “There are 630 calories in a Impossible Whopper from Burger King. Most of those calories come from fat (48%) and carbohydrates (36%).”

    https://fastfoodnutrition.org/burger-king/impossible-whopper

  • Sis you don’t count the calories you count the carbs because every 4 carbs=1 tsp or tbs of sugar so 40 carbs is 10 tsp or tbs of sugar even if it’s 120 calories.

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  • I question those calorie counts. The BK grilled chicken burger has only 150 calories? Most buns alone are 150 calories by themselves.

  • It’s ok, joslyn, I love plain greek yogurt too! The chobani squeezable greek yogurt pouches are my absolute favorite. I would literally just squeeze it directly into my mouth for a snack as I watch youtube videos.

  • Bullyjuice, GOOD LOOKIN out on this video. This gives the people such as my self that’s tryna eat rite something to look forward to as far as healthy fast food options. Still trying to stick a healthy diet while away from the kitchen. Thank you so much, now i don’t have to be tht guy who goes out with friends being a buzz kill, & says i can’t eat this stuff because it’s not healthy for me.

  • My favorite healthy fast food is the teriyaki chicken from Panda. It’s just grilled chicken with teriyaki seasonings and the sauce comes on the side!

  • Can you recommend a weekly food prep cuz I work 12 hour night shifts and it’s hard to stay healthy with little time to prepare food. There is a small kitchen at my work too so I have access to a microwave, toaster oven, and electric stove top burners.

  • Lol funny thing is that Starbucks is most expensive, seems like it would be the “healthiest” but in reality it’s already pre made where as McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are made “fresh”

  • Two things, Starbucks are in pretty much every town and city in England just not in as high numbers as the USA, secondly, English muffins are just muffins or breakfast muffins here

  • Going to any of these places looking for a healthy option means you lost, turn around and learn to cook. I wouldn’t order any of these things. Because I don’t want grilled chicken or beans only, I want fried food and real meat in there. Note: I cook most of my own food from scratch and only go to fast food places for an occasional treat.

  • Sadly local McDonalds pulled the Egg White Delight. Sometimes I’ll add a breakfast filet when at Chick Fil A if I am expecting a low protein day.

  • Thanks man ive been watching your exercise videos an weight gainer It was hard for me to gain weight i was 125lbs at 19 im 20 now and 150lb

  • If you ask McDonald’s for the egg white delight with no butter you save 3-4g of fat. I usually get mine with no butter or cheese but that’s just me

  • Great video! I’m going to Japan soon so needed some breakfast ideas just Incase. Trying to keep things low fat and have protein and carbs higher.

  • I’m calling bullshit on the BK burger being only 150. I’ve counted calories for 10+ years. I’m guessing more around 350. 150 maybe just for the chicken!!!

  • It seems as if this vid is suggesting that these options are actually healthy, not less unhealthy. Let’s still go for the latter, eh?

  • I feel as though the healthiest at McDonald’s or even Wendy’s or burger kind is a hamburger without the bun and al the continents and stuff and just shredded lettuce on top

  • Through out my moms pregnancy she stay by the door knowing that I will come in at 4 o’clock from school to go over to Wendy’s to get that salad every single day thankfully it was only across the street lol

  • Appreciate you bully, been subscribed to this you for a min. Appreciate showing us another way to look at fast food. And letting us know there’s different options out there. Love brother

  • Steve, can you do a lunch and dinner fast food video? I’m on the road a lot and struggle to find quick healthy options. ���� thanks bud!

  • Taco Bell should be sued for false advertisement when they consistently show way more meat than is given at the point of purchase.

  • i want to have joslyn’s eating habits, but i think im always gonna be like naz w/ her love of fast food lol. im literally eating mcdonalds as i type this

  • The bean burrito seems healthy, replace meat with beans, you get more protein, and you’re helping your environment, including the animals within it. For good did not make us to eat animals, nor their products.

  • 7.30 in the morning here just had my Egg whites with oatmeal and a cup of chai (tea for the uninitiated:) and sipping on my preworkout Amino Energy by ON but this video is making me hungry again 😉

  • Great content Steve! This will be helpful for the busy parents and professionals who don’t have a lot of time in their days. My suggestion for the next video, something in regards to the least damaging sweet treats! Sweets are always a killer when it comes to “dieting” and for my they are by far the hardest thing to cut out of my diet. Love everything you do! Thanks!

  • I need to try the grilled chicken wrap from Chick-fil-A, thank you it sounds delicious! Keep doing these healthy cheat days, nice having healthy options!

  • yo big fan of the videos, i got a question for you you if you ont mind….i work graveyard n i started meal prepping this week. I take lunch around 2-3 AM was wondering wether or not you had any advice on if i should eat full meals or jus take some snacks like fruit that’ll full me up? would appreciate you if you replied…or anybody else advice at that

  • The entire middle east eats nonflavored yogurt. Americans are crazy putting sugar in something that’s supposed to be healthy. Plain yogurt is where it’s at.

  • What do you guys think of the recent fast-casual trend? I used to LOVEEE Chipotle but glad there are so many more options now. What is your favorite?

  • I mean tbh if you’re really trying to do healthy don’t go to a fast food place. HOWEVER if you have a craving you can’t get rid of, then I agree do some damage control and pick something that’s less fattening

  • you are not finding any of this food in UK fast food restaurants. ‘Egg white sandwich and low fat turkey bacon’ from Maccy D’s…no chance mate

  • Ok so I’ve been watching since way back but I feel like the girls aren’t that big of a fan of nas and I don’t want to be mean but you can tell when someone doesn’t like another person but it’s very surprising because Joselyn love everyone soooo idk

  • wow McDonald’s has a lot of food whether it’s healthy food breakfast or classic fast food and desserts and drinks I love you McDonald’s you are my number one favorite fast food restaurant McDonald’s rules!!!!!

  • One of the best “healthy” fast food meals I’ve ever tried came from none other than Jack-In-The-Box, the home of the notorious Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger! Their grilled chicken strips were delicious, even without any sauce, and had only about 250 kCal. I wish they’d bring them back.:-(

  • I work at chick-fil-a and recommend the grilled wrap but ask for it as a veggie wrap it will come with the roasted corn mix and tomatoes. I like our chicken though so I’d still ask for chicken in it.

  • The way you said barbacoa killed me. It makes a qua sound. like aqua, bar-ba-qua. Waaaait did she just call pico de gallo fresh tomato salsa??? Even the Qt gas station has it listed as pico de gallo.

  • Wow an amazing mashup of Chipotle, Subway and Ben & Jerry’s, for Salads��
    New billion dollar trend in food business, is to come up with the next Chipotle of…��

  • You guys should compare Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks pumpkin spice items. They both return in just a few days:) Also don’t know how I just found this channel but I’ve been watching ever since!

  • This was published in 2017, and they STILL mention fat as a bad thing. CARBS and SUGAR are what’s poison! Get with the times. This video is based in information from the 90s.

  • I am doing keto/carnivore lost 85 lbs/yr but very very slowly getting stronger. By the way i eat just dinner between 3000-4000 calories. I will start ur exercises to see how much i can do off course start all ur beginner stuff.

  • I have to get the grilled nuggets cause they fry their regular ones in peanut oil and I’m allergic:/ (not deathly that’s why I still eat there)

  • They cheated you on cheating with the chick fil a wrap that thing comes with avocado ranch that’s so bomb and makes that thing 13729473827 times better!!!

  • Good video but maybe you should be a bit worldwide for instance I live in Turkey and we dont have any of these fast food places
    So please try to make a video about other countries than USA

  • At panda express its called Broccoli Beef, not beef broccoli, that’s why it’s mostly broccoli. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, its called beef broccoli.

  • Absolutely not healthy in any way. Any perceived benefits will be over shadowed by the fat, sugar and by being super processed.and chicken is one of the worst protein sources…

  • Well Naz I guess we can’t be friends ��‍♀️ I LOVE the grilled nuggets at chick-fil-a. prefer their grilled nuggets over any other grilled chicken.